Queens Food Bank opening thrift store in April


Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The former Kwik-Way on Liverpool's Main Street will be opening soon as the new Food Bank's Thrift Store.

Volunteers have been working on the premises at 290 Main Street getting it ready since January.

According to Shelly Panczyk, chair of the Queen's County Food Bank (QCFB), opening a thrift store to support the food bank has been the volunteers' dream for a while.

"The former chair, Charlotte White and I both had a vision of a thrift store happening, but it just didn't materialize," said Panczyk, adding that it became more of a focus since she took over from White in September.

The idea is to use the proceeds from the store to pay for the use of the building, and cover the rent at the food bank location as well. The food bank, a non-profit organization, runs on donations it receives.

QCFB has been fortunate to be rent-free at its current location for some time. The bank was located in a building owned by the Region of Queens Municipality for a number of years until it was sold about two years ago.

The operation moved into its current location, at 344 Main Street, about that time. It occupied the space rent-free due to the number of renovations the organization has done on the place.

However, that deal ran out in November 2020. According to Panczyk, the subsequent realization of the amount needed to keep the food bank running was a bit of a shock, and a way to generate more funds had to be found.

Just prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Salvation Army Thrift Store announced it would be closing its doors due to financial constraints.

"It was kind of like our window of opportunity to get things started," said Panczyk.

While apartments occupy the area above, the main commercial level had been unoccupied for several years and consequently required a lot of reparations. Workers have been labouring to replace the floor, paint and bring things up to code.

The store is expected to be open every Thursday to Sunday. It will be operated by volunteers and everything on the premises will be donated, allowing the QCFB to use the proceeds to cover operating costs or to purchase goods for the food bank.

Despite the fact there's another thrift store just next to it - Frenchy's - Panczyk isn't worried about the competition.

"We aren't going to put big prices on the items. We just want our stuff to move, so we can continually be putting out new stuff," she said.

In any case, Panczyk anticipated the store will be busy as there have been a number of inquiries regarding donating. She said an announcement will be made soon about this. In the meantime, they're waiting until all the entities involved, including the Region of Queens, give them the nod to go ahead and open.

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