Mt Roskill couple Joan and Eric Jackson had a vision to make quality clothes and household items available to local families at affordable prices. In 1999 their vision became a reality when Joan noticed a nearby shop had become vacant.
Set up under the auspices of Mt Roskill Baptist, a 3-month lease was first taken in January 1999, followed in April by a long-term lease once the fledgling op shop proved to be a huge success. Twenty years on the New 2 U Op Shop is a busy place. People come and go, they linger, browse and spark conversation with one another. It’s clear from the outset that this isn’t your regular op shop. This is a place where members of the community find a shoulder to lean on and a listening ear.
The modest op shop involves a surprising amount of behind the scenes work of cleaning, sorting and repairing, all done by over 30 volunteers and currently overseen by the manager, Dianne Ferguson. Quite a few of the team, like Diane Wichman, live in the area and have been involved since day one. From the beginning it has been a labour of love and commitment by the local congregation, but now also involves many from the community. Diane also acknowledges the generosity of those who donate items, commenting “We couldn’t do it without them; It takes a community working together to help a community.”
Dianne says that her reason for being in the shop is her love for the Roskill South community, and the invaluable benefit the shop provides to them. “Many of our customers express their gratitude at such low prices, and that they can clothe their families on a tight budget,” says Dianne. “It makes a difference to their day-to-day lives.”
“And it’s not just the low prices that impact the community, but also surplus profits and unsold goods find their way back to the community too”, she says. “For instance, scrap metal is taken to the scrap metal yard, books are donated to the Lions’ Book Fair in New Lynn, and even golf balls find a new home at the local school golf club.”
The op shop also provides an opportunity for people such as school leavers and mothers returning to the work force to gain work experience, with the shop then acting as a referee. It is also a safe place for speakers of other languages to come to practice their English and help them to feel they can contribute to the life of this community. Often new migrants cannot get work in NZ, but they can volunteer at the shop. This gives them work experience and a new network that they can tap into for assistance and friendship.
To celebrate twenty years in the community, the op shop invites all who have had some contact with the shop to an afternoon tea on Saturday 2nd March at 2pm, at the Mt Roskill Baptist Church lounge. Bring your stories to share with us and meet up with our wonderful team of volunteers.
New 2 U Op Shop can be found at 489 Richardson Road, Mt Roskill, and is open Mon-Fri 9am-1pm and Sat 9.30-1.30.