Bear still managing shop after 25 years
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.