LIMESTONE Coast opportunity stores are slowing starting to reopen across the region just in time for residents to stock up ahead of winter.
After abrupt closures around two months ago due to the unfolding COVID-19 pandemic, a handful of not-for-profit organisations have recently started to stagger the relaunch of their popular outlets.
The Salvation Army’s Caldwell Street premises was the first to reopen in Mount Gambier, welcoming the public through its doors late last week.
St Vincent de Paul also resumed operation at 10am yesterday after countless hours of cleaning and preparation at its Crouch Street South store, including the restocking of winter garments.
Commonly referred to as Vinnies, store manager Denise Rogers said it had been a whirlwind of excitement during preparation for staff and customers alike.
“I was just bumping in to people while doing my shopping at the supermarket and everyone kept asking me when the big day would be,” she said.
“The time has finally come and there has been excitement coming from everywhere and everybody.”
Ms Rogers said she received an overwhelming response from the community when she was notified the not-for-profit storefront could reopen.
“I even had people who were no longer volunteering deciding to become involved again,” she said.
“I think it is because it is such a nice vibe in here, everyone looks after each other, we all work well together and it is a great place to be.”
After an eight-week lockdown, Ms Rogers said the store needed a large amount of summer stock rotated and changed for warmer winter garments.
“Everything needed to be cleaned, polished, vacuumed and we pretty much had to go over everything again,” she said.
Ms Rogers said the store was one of many which would follow COVID-19 hygiene requirements and had hand sanitiser and perspex screens in place with all customers and staff required to practise social distancing.
“It is part of what everyone has to do now and we have had to train people to stay on top of it,” she said.
“We have also restricted a two-garment limit for changing rooms, with unwanted items being removed from the floor and going into quarantine for 48 hours.
“We want to keep everybody safe.”
Ms Rogers said although donations were not accepted during lockdown as risks were too high, the public could now resume donating.
“We will be returning back to normal as much as we possibly can,” she said.
“I remind people our store is much more than a retail shop and we provide of lot more assistance to those in need than people may realise.
“We do provide food, furniture and clothing, but our assistance team also works with men and women in crisis which can range from domestic violence or travel complications.”
To maintain social distancing measures, Ms Rogers said a transportable office had been arranged in the store’s car park to provide assistance services.
Ms Rogers also thanked the Tenison Woods College community which helps operate the busy shopfront every Saturday morning.
The St Vincent de Paul store will be open from 10am to 4pm weekdays and 9am to 12pm on Saturday.
The homeware and bric-a-brac department will continue operation from 10am to 3.30pm each weekday.
The not-for-profit organisation’s assistance team operates every Wednesday.