By Teresa Ramsey
Shoppers queue outside the Paeroa Promotions Opportunity shop, waiting patiently for their turn to browse through the bargains inside.
It’s the first day of Covid-19 Alert Level 2 and founder and manager Marise Carey and her team of volunteers have been busy behind the scenes during the shutdown, getting ready for the expected crowds.
Marise also spent the shutdown setting up an online shop – “to keep me busy and sane but to generate money for the shop”.
“We were okay until about August with enough funds in our account to carry us through, but no-one really knew how long this was going to go for. I have to be busy,” she said.
“I was only in lockdown for two weeks and I didn’t cope well.”
Keeping busy is how Marise copes with losing her 22-year-old son William, who died in a car accident two years ago.
“I need to do something meaningful. That’s another motivation for doing this. I need to give back, it’s a healing thing, keeping busy, helping people. William always helped everybody, that’s the way we brought the kids up.”
The online shop exceeded all expectations during the shutdown, with orders flowing in from Wanaka, Christchurch and Welling to Napier, New Plymouth and Kaitaia.
The reason the online shop took off was the reasonable pricing and good quality items, she said.
“From that we had a really good response and made a lot of money, which I actually decided to invest back into the shop because we haven’t invested a lot in fittings.”
The online shop is now closed, and will only reopen if the country goes into shutdown again.
Marise opened the Hughenden St op shop six months ago to give back – all profits are donated to charity.
“We wanted to open another op shop that was community-focussed and affordable and in the same token, put the money back into Paeroa town and the local Hauraki area,” she said.
To help with the problem of finding volunteers to help run the shop, Marise began offering the shop directly to schools and community groups for a set fee to cover expenses. The groups provided their own volunteers and kept any profits they made.
“On average, they walked away with around $800 a week for their fundraisers,” she said.
This also meant they didn’t have to decide which charity groups received the profits from the op shop, she said.
Donations of clothes and bric a brac flood in from throughout the Hauraki District. The shop is becoming so busy, they’re looking for bigger premises.
“I was looking for a bigger shop before Covid. Out the back … it’s just chocka block.”