September 20, 2020

BY TONY MCLELLAN

On the outside, the Worth a Second Look Furniture & Housewares building looks like every other quiet, simplistic, two-storey brick building located on Victoria Street in Kitchener’s downtown core.
One step through the steel double doors, however, and the scene changes significantly. A plethora of furniture can be seen, including a colourful collection of couches, cabinets and cupboards that cover the large, open space. Although some show signs of use, the vast majority appear well maintained, and some even look new. But every single item has been used, and many would have been destined for the dumpster if not for Worth a Second Look (WASL).
The inventory does not include clothing, large appliances and computers but does include “any kind of furniture, any kind of housewares, any kind of electronics. You want it, we got it,” said Don Gingerich, one of the driving forces behind WASL.
The store focuses on community, especially on giving the less fortunate an opportunity to furnish their homes.
“The intent of the program is to make it possible for anybody on any kind of income to get some of what they need,” Gingerich said. “We’re not in it to make money, but to help people out.”
Gingerich’s words ring true upon closer examination of the prices of the various pieces of furniture and small appliances, from hair curlers to blenders. Gently-used couches that would have normally cost up to $300 are sold for $50, or sometimes even less. The same goes for the rest of the store’s inventory; both large and small items, all well maintained, are selling for a fraction of what they would have been sold for in a chain store.
The store’s reputation is known by many in the immediate community and, subsequently, many items that the store receives are donations from the public. Many items are also those salvaged by volunteers from sidewalks.
Gingerich believes that “we’re a society that has too much. If we don’t like it today, we can get another one tomorrow. But where does that other one get thrown out?”
In recent months, however, the donations and reclamations have become too plentiful, with almost all available space in the building taken up. This is both a primary concern and a great source of joy to Gingerich.
“If I could see more space in the store, which I can’t, I’d say we could double the size of the store” he said. “There’s just that much stuff.”
“The place is really run by the volunteers. There are three paid people who work here, while there are almost 35 unpaid people who work here every week.”
To say that the staff is committed would be an understatement. Last year alone, the volunteers at WASL put in more than 24,000 hours of unpaid work. At a store paying minimum wage, this would have cost $246,000.
Worth a Second Look is located at 97 Victoria St. N., in downtown Kitchener. You can contact WASL at 519-569-7566, or email don@theworkingcentre.org. Store hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays.
If you have furniture that you would like to donate, you can deliver it in person or wait two weeks after contacting them for volunteers to come and collect it.