Bear still managing shop af­ter 25 years

Central Leader - - OUT & ABOUT - TORIKA TOKALAU-CHAN­DRA

Work­ing at the same op shop for the past 25 years has been a labour of love for 87-year-old Mar­garet Bear.

The Somervell Op shop, on Re­muera Road, first opened in 1991 by a group of women from Somervell Pres­by­te­rian Church.

They wanted to help the church to be more in­volved in the com­mu­nity.

Bear was the store’s first man­ager af­ter re­turn­ing from nurs­ing du­ties in In­dia.

She says the shop had a huge im­pact in the com­mu­nity as they pro­vided af­ford­able cloth­ing to the peo­ple that needed it.

Now in her golden years, Bear still works at the shop one day a month as her gift to the com­mu­nity.

‘‘There are a lot of shops now but there weren’t a lot around in the area when we first started,’’ Bear says.

‘‘We wanted to help the com­mu­nity and we were never short of help.

‘‘And the com­mu­nity ap­pre­ci­ated what we had.

‘‘Sometimes peo­ple came in, not for what we sold but just to have a con­ver­sa­tion. And, in a way we were im­pact­ing their lives that way too.’’

The shop had its hum­ble be­gin­nings in a lit­tle room at the back of the church hall where it opened twice a week for six hours.

To­day, it’s moved to the bot­tom of the church’s three-storey build­ing and opens at least three times a week.

‘‘A lot of peo­ple came in with their things for us to sell - there were house­hold items and an­tiques.

‘‘The ini­tial aim was to help the com­mu­nity and I be­lieve that work continues to­day.’’

To mark the an­niver­sary, the shop had a $2 Mys­tery Box Sum­mer Sale for sum­mer cloth­ing on Satur­day with all pro­ceeds go­ing to Is­land Child Char­ity.

Janet Row­ley, a volunteer at the shop says the shop continues to be a bea­con of light to their cus­tomers, in one way or an­other.

‘‘As peo­ple and as a church, it is heart­break­ing to hear how fam­i­lies are strug­gling and so this is a small way we hope we can make a dif­fer­ence,’’ Row­ley adds.

The store donates all prof­its to char­ity, mostly to mis­sion work in other coun­tries.

‘‘Fam­i­lies might not be a con­ven­tional unit these days but everyone needs to feel safe in a group of peo­ple com­mit­ted to car­ing about them for life.’’

Mar­garet Bear, with other shop vol­un­teers, cuts the 25th an­niver­sary cake.

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