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The Barn needs more help from volunteers

Barn volunteers from left to right: Grace Petty, Nancy Oughton, Tiffany Looby, and Rebecca DeAllie practise their golf swings (Photograph by Jessie Moniz Hardy)

The Bermuda Hospitals Auxiliary is in desperate need of more volunteers to help them run The Barn, one of the largest thrift stores in Bermuda.

“Since the pandemic, many of our volunteers have not returned,” said Nancy Oughton, Barn general manager.

The Barn is open to the public on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 9am to 2pm, but volunteers are there five days a week, sorting, cleaning, washing, pricing and putting out items.

Since the pandemic began in March 2020, the charity has been deluged with “treasures”.

“When everyone was on a lockdown, I think people had time to have a real cleanout of their closets and homes so once the restrictions were lifted we were overwhelmed with donations,” Ms Oughton said. “That has now levelled off, but we are still receiving an abundance of donations on our drop off days, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 9am to 11am.”

Rising inflation has made business “steady” at the Devon Spring Road, Devonshire facility.

Ms Oughton said: “Many people are struggling financially and with ever increasing costs of goods, people are having to tighten their budgets. As a result, many new customers have come to the Barn. They are realising how far their money can go and what good quality items they are able to purchase for very reasonable prices.”

Funds from The Barn are used to purchase equipment for local hospitals. The charity also runs a café and gift shop at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital, but The Barn is by far, their most successful venture.

People of all ages and walks of life come to The Barn looking for a bargain. Some customers are affluent while others are living on a very tight budget.

You can find everything from golf club sets to couches and tables, but the most popular items are clothing, books, linens and baby items, including car seats, strollers and cribs.

“Customers are always surprised by what treasures they can find at The Barn,” Ms Oughton said.

She said many first-timers quickly become lifelong patrons when they see the range of bargains available.

“Gone are the days when there was a stigma attached to shopping at thrift stores,” she said. “Today, people are happy to shop at thrift shops and are amazed at what they can find.”

There are even customers who come almost every day the store is open to see what is new.

“We had one customer like that who was supposed to be getting rid of things before he left the island,” she said. “He was still coming in the day before and buying saying don’t tell my wife.”

One of the challenges of being a volunteer is not going home with items from the shop at the end of the day.

Volunteers are needed to work at least three hours a week. They are also needed in The Hospitals Auxiliary café and gift shop.

For more information call 239-1525 or e-mail nancy.oughton@bhb.bm.

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Published June 13, 2022 at 7:42 am (Updated June 14, 2022 at 8:09 am)

The Barn needs more help from volunteers

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