The fire at St. Patrick’s church over the summer not only meant damages to the church, but the loss of their well-loved flea market; now the church has opened a new thrift store to fill the flea market’s shoes.

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St. Patrick’s thrift store Vinnies celebrated its grand opening Saturday.

The store had been open since March 20, but their grand opening wasn’t until April 1st.

Unlike the flea market, Vinnies will not operate out of the church’s parish hall. Instead, the church has rented out a building on Old Airport Road to house it.

While they only hold a lease until September, project manager Mark Needham tells us that the church hopes to make their stay permanent while the parish hall where the flea market used to be held will now be reserved for other activities.

“It’s a new location, so a new start, a fresh start,” Needham said.

Changes to the flea market

Besides a new location, Needham says several changes come with the new store.

Project manager Mark Needham.

They plan to operate six days a week, he says, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Saturday. They also have a couple of paid employees along with volunteers helping run the business.

The most important change is to what donations they’re taking in.

“We’re looking at not taking in as many items as we had in the past,” explained Needham.

The store’s main focus, he says, will be on clothing, houseware, giftware, jewelry and knickknacks.

They will no longer be taking furniture, beds or cribs, mattresses, pillows, appliances such as televisions and radios, books or movies, and sporting goods or camping equipment.

“We’re not able to take that just because of the room we have,” he said, adding that any clothes the store holds on to for too long will be packaged up and donated to the surrounding communities.

Reunited with father’s sweater

Needham says the community has been reacting well to the reopening.

“They’re very, very pleased,” he said.

“[The flea market is] sort of a win-win-win for the people giving away items, it makes them feel good and it’s a spot for them to take the items, it helps the people in the community, and it also helps those folks in other communities as well.”

Tawna Brown found her father’s old sweater after donating it over a year ago.

One person the flea market helped was Tawna Brown.

Brown came to the grand opening with a friend, and left having found her father’s sweater that she had donated over a year ago.

“Last year I came back from traveling around the world for a year,” she explained.

In that year she lived out of her suitcase, and says that when she returned home she realized how cluttered her possessions were.

Brown began to purge everything she had, including her father Terry’s old wool sweater, who had lived in Yellowknife for 30 years.

“I felt bad after I gave it away, because I felt sort of connected to it,” she explained. “Then here I am at the grand opening and here it is!”

Vinnies is located at 349 Old Airport Road, where the old Pioneer Supply House used to be.