Connie Hay did not imagine herself a store keeper, but here she is, four years as owner/operator of It’s All Good, a store in Virden that sells gently used items – from clothing to household items and even some furniture.
Not only has she started a store, with a passion for helping people find a new path in life, she started a ministry 35 years ago that is going strong today and these two endeavors dove tail.
Connie doesn’t run the thrift business alone. It’s a team effort with her husband, Bud.
“He is a big part of this business. He definitely does all the building, fixing, sorting, moving, lifting, etc. I could not do what I do if not for him.”
The Hay family’s store is in the building that first housed a laundromat and dry-cleaning service which they purchased in 1983.
By 2002, they stopped the drycleaning street clothes and focused on cleaning work coveralls.
By September of 2017 the Hays had been in the drycleaning/laundromat business for 34 years. The laundry machines were due for replacement, again. It was decision time.
Meanwhile, the thrift-shop was running well and Connie loved it. So, the laundry had to go. The entire building became Its All Good.
Although she loves operating the thrift store, it wasn’t easy. Connie suffered with health issues, needing surgery on her joints.
“Our son Brodie had moved home to help with the coverall cleaning/laundromat/ and store as I was too crippled to do much and Bud was working another job. Before I had surgery I mostly just sat at work while Brodie did all the leg work at the store.”
It wasn’t a dream to run a thrift shop, but she admits, “I’ve always liked thrift, for years I have.” She doesn’t know where her interest came from. “I don’t really remember if my mum took me thrifting. We always had second-hand clothes given to us, but I don’t know that there was actually thrift stores.”
Once Connie discovered her first thrift store or two, it got into her blood. And although she has been limited by her health, she says, “I was thankful to have a place to be other than the four walls of home. Due to some circumstances beyond my control, it took four long years before I was able to have the surgery I needed.”
Connie loves to see cast off items become wanted and useful for her customers. She thinks there are a few mis-conceptions about the thrift store business. And while she receives most of her stock through donations, she says, “Donations are not free. So much work has to go into getting stuff ready to put out (for sale). The amount of water I use for washing clothing, the soap, the cleaners I use for cleaning glass (hard surfaces). Hours and hours.”
Some items are not salvageable.
When a serious occasion arises in someone’s life, when she can, she donates. “I get messages all the time from people who are in need. There’s so many reasons why people are in need, and I’m very open to helping. It feels good when people appreciate what you’ve done. I give if I can.
“I feel with all my heart that that’s my calling in life, is to be working with people, helping people.”
The Hays also support two ministries dedicated to parenting: they donate a percentage of their profits to Kairos Maternity Home each month and donate items to the Pregnancy Support Centre for Westman.
The support centre was first called the Pregnancy Crisis Centre. “It is very dear to my heart as I was one of the founding members. I recently began volunteering there again and am working in their ‘clothes closet’ area,” she says.
She feels that God has called her to help young mothers and young people.
“Over the years we have sheltered a few young people in our home; they came to us for various reasons.
“I voluntarily operated a Mom’s group and small store (Little Lambs - mostly kids clothing) through YFC for a few years as well.
“I was a Families First Home Visitor, a position I absolutely loved because it involved working with families (mostly moms and their babies) from May 2007 until April 2012 when I was forced to leave my position due to health issues.”
She finds it meaningful to provide affordable treasures and necessities to shoppers and in the process being able to donate and to help families find their way with new hope in life.