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A quarter century of bargains

Dorothy Westerman
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Feb 04/05) - From the $200 parka selling for $20 to the antique plate bought for just $1, Theresa Reid says there is no end in sight to the merchandise or bargains at the weekly St. Pat's flea market.

Reid, the organizer of the flea market since it first began 26 years ago, says it first began as a once-a-month summer rummage sale held outdoors.

"It's become more and more popular over the years," Reid said.

Because Yellowknife is a fairly transient city, Reid said spring and summer can be very busy, with people both bringing in donations and searching for bargains.

"People say they like to shop here," Reid said amongst the roomful of items.

"They say when they come to look for something, they find it."

For that reason, Reid says she gets a wide variety of people who visit each week searching for books, clothing, computers, household items, or interesting and unusual items to be found there.

Reid said she has met some very nice people throughout the years who volunteer their time to help out with the flea market.

"There is everyone from seniors to students and also businesses who donate services," she said of the varied behind-the-scenes helpers.

"It's been very interesting."

Reid says keeping the flea market running, however, is very much a community effort.

Being involved since the beginning has been a labour of love for Reid. "I enjoy it. I like helping people with their needs. We have lots of poor people today.

"I like to do it," she said.

During the early years of the sale, all the items had to be packed and transported each week due to a lack of storage space. Often her husband and son would help her out.

Once the hall was established for the flea market, she said it became a bit easier, although many days in the spring and summer she can spend upwards of 10-12 hours per day organizing for the next sale.

One of the volunteers who helps out is Karin Clegg, an employment support worker with the Yellowknife Association for Community Living, who says bringing her clients in to help volunteer is a great way to help them get practical experience.

"It's a good place to learn practical skills, people skills and sorting or organizing," Clegg said.

Another volunteer who did not wish to be named, says she volunteered for several years at the flea market before moving away. During a recent vacation, however, she returned to lend a helping hand. "I think people come here because they love the atmosphere," she said.

"I enjoy it."

As well as selling goods to the people of Yellowknife, Reid said the flea market donates both clothing and household items to those in need, to the hospital and to fire victims.

Also, the flea market sends donations to outlying communities such as Norman Wells, Tulita, Fort Good Hope, Fort Providence, Deline, Fort Resolution, Snare Lakes, Rae Lakes and Lutsel K'e.

The flea market runs each Friday afternoon and on Saturdays at St. Pat's church hall.