Indie saying no indie

One person can make a difference

Nearly New Shop volunteers one person can make a differerence

photo: (L-R) Sharleen Gunston, Caryl George, Lois Soroka, Isabel Shaw

Recently the Brandon Regional Health Centre Auxiliary celebrated a $4 million fundraising milestone due to donations from the Nearly New Shop and their Gift Shop, since 1982.

The Nearly New Shop, which sells gently used clothing and household items, came into being because Lois Soroka decided to ‘make it happen.’

This story of how it came about first appeared on the Brandon Now website in 2013.

Sadly, Lois passed away in July 2014. To recognize her contribution to the fundraising efforts of the Auxilliary, we present the article here:  

Open a thrift shop to raise money for the local hospital auxiliary? What a good idea, most people would say.

And, that’s probably as far as they would go. Fortunately, Brandon’s Lois Soroka wasn’t ‘most people’.

“I heard there was one in Victoria, BC, so I went to see it,” she said.

After a firsthand look at the operation, Lois returned home ready to start a similar venture.


Her friend, Irene Bergner, offered to help and they set about finding a space, and merchandise for the aptly named, Nearly New Shop.

“The hospital gave us a room in the Nurses Residence to use.

Then we phoned everyone we knew for donations and told them to phone everyone they knew,” said Lois.

“Irene and I really enjoyed running the Shop. My children would always say, ‘Mum’s gone to play store again.’”

They soon needed more space for their successful endeavour and relocated to a building downtown.

And again, the call went out for help.

“We needed more volunteers, and items such as shelves and racks to furnish the new store,” Lois said. “Business owners were very good to us.”

Now celebrating its thirtieth anniversary, the Shop continues to thrive.

A move in January 2012, to a location across from Superstore, led to an increase in customers.

The charitable organization operates with one employee and over seventy volunteers.

The shop’s longest serving volunteer, and oldest in age, is ninety year-old Isabel Shaw.

“I saw a story in the newspaper about the shop opening and thought it would be nice to help out,” she said.

“The volunteers have been very loyal,” said Lois. “Most come once a week and some, twice a week.”

Caryl George, who is the youngest volunteer, has been marketing the shop on twitter and facebook since February 2013.

“We all thought the store should connect with social media,” said board chair, Sharleen Gunston.

Caryl’s photo displays on twitter and facebook are an attractive showcase for the shop’s ‘like-new’ (and sometimes new) merchandise.

Other volunteers also take on specific tasks.

“We have someone who does the puzzles to make sure all the pieces are there, another looks at the cameras to make sure they work, someone else checks all the jewellery,” Sharleen said.

The Nearly New Shop is a win for everyone.

Quality items are recycled to customers at very affordable prices, leading to support for healthcare in Westman.

Lois’ leadership, and ability to attract volunteers to help run the shop, turned a good idea into a reality.

The efforts of the volunteers have contributed to the funding provided by the BRHC Auxiliary to Brandon Regional Health Centre for capital equipment purchases since 1982.

The Nearly New Shop is located at 601-9th Street, Brandon, MB
Phone: 204-728-7137, Facebook



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Today’s Throwback

Western Motors Heritage Brandon

Western Motors

June 1963.

Western Motors opened in 1926 and operated on the corner of 10th Street and Princess Avenue for over forty years. The building was demolished in 1971.

Source: L.A. Stuckey/Lawrence Stuckey collection, S.J. McKee Archives, Brandon University

photo courtesy of Heritage Brandon


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