Way back in 1967, sometime just after decimal currency changed in New Zealand, a group of young mums from Northcote Baptist Church were bottling apples at the Auckland City Mission when someone suggested starting an op shop to raise money for the new church building.
Marion Attwood is one who recalls that time fifty years ago when the shop was first opened. “I remember working there when my kids were small and outfitting them with their favourite clothes,” she says.
Today, the op shop has around seventy-two volunteers and is open six days a week in the Northcote Shopping Centre.
Volunteer Manager Niki Cowie says, “We believe it’s important as a church to have a presence in our local shopping centre. Many of our customers are people that wouldn’t think of setting foot in our church building but will quite happily pop into the shop for a chat with the friendly staff and at the same time get some bargains for their families. We really want to be a blessing to our community and show the love of Jesus to each person that walks through our door.”
All money raised from the shop is given away again. Over the past fifty years those donations have topped one million dollars. Currently sixty per cent of the profits go to fund Northcote Baptist church’s CAP Centre (Christians Against Poverty budgeting service). The remaining forty per cent goes to many different charities locally, across New Zealand and overseas. The staff have input into where the money goes and can suggest their favourite charities for the op shop to send donations to.
Charities supported include Iosis (formerly Merivale Women’s Refuge), a Baptist social services organisation working with families in South Auckland and beyond. The shop also sponsors five children overseas. One is at the John Tackle Hostel in Bangladesh, two are through World Vision, one is with International Needs Network, and another with Mukti Mission Orphanage in India. The op shop also has direct contact with an orphanage in Kenya where one of the volunteers has lived. A Blind Foundation guide dog and a hearing dog are also sponsored.
“A lot of our donations involve helping local children through Marist (working with children who have been expelled from other schools) and also the Kaipatiki Youth Development Trust who work with local youth who are at risk of offending,” says Niki.
The shop had an anniversary celebration evening recently with a few of the volunteers who have worked in the shop over the past fifty years. A cake was cut by one of the original ladies who started the shop, Elaine Davies.
Niki says, “I don’t think fifty years ago we could ever have imagined the shop would still be going strong and all the incredible blessings we have been able to pass on to others thanks to our Heavenly Father who watches over us.”
Story: Niki Cowie