The ramshackle shed wears a cheerful look as Crystal Steel has transformed it into a cheerful and vibrant Christmas speciality shop that sits next to St Andrew’s Opportunity Shop on Vincent Street, Howick.
Three years ago Crystal realised that there were a lot of Christmas gifts and decor that people donated throughout the year which was taking up a lot of shelf space at the Op shop.
“We were running out of space and decided to have a separate Christmas shop in the shed next-door where people can buy a wide variety of Christmas stuff at a very cheap price. We’ve been running it for the last two years; this will be the third year,” says the energetic 80-year–old Howick resident.
“We collected around $1000 last year, which all goes to charity.”
Having volunteered for St Andrew’s Op Shop for 50 years, ever since it started in Otara before moving to Howick, Crystal has seen a huge change as far as charity shops go.
“There were times when people would eagerly wait right outside the shop on a Tuesday or a Thursday as we brought in new stock and they would swoop on it like birds, wanting to pick up the best stuff.
“I remember the time when a gentleman bought a suit from us for around $20 and wore it to his wedding. He dropped in at the shop on the way to the wedding to show us how well it fitted him,” she says.
Beverley Riley, who has also been a long time volunteer, says that more often than not people would buy stuff on lay-by and, on benefit day, they’d drop in to collect bags full of goodies.
Whilst there were lots more volunteers at the shop then, now the average age of volunteers is 70 to 80 years.
The ladies fondly mention 96-year-old Lorraine Stewart who sometimes takes washing baskets home to give the old clothes a wash. She even irons them and gets them on a hanger, ready for sale.
As they say, it’s all for a good cause!