Some of you may remember, I have been working closely with The Brotherhood of St Laurence (BSL) community stores, by restyling outdated clothing, ready for resale in their Hunter Gatherer retail shops. As a result, I have been fortunate to visit 'behind the scenes' of The BSL sorting facility in Brunswick.
Quite giddy with excitement, I imagined a huge warehouse resembling some sort of giant jumble sale, with mountains of clothes to wade through, and piles of muddled up bric-a-brac. My vision was far from the reality, with a well managed, relatively tidy set-up.
Large crates are filled with donations ready to sort. Once the broken and torn is separated from the resalable items, the good stuff is boxed and set aside to be distributed to The Brotherhoods' 21 community stores (op shops) across Victoria.
The Hunter Gatherer stores pride themselves on stocking the best vintage clothing and accessories, and have their own dedicated section within the warehouse. Pickers have put aside wheelie bins filled with potential vintage goodies; shoes, coats, hats, trousers, belts, frocks, bric-a-brac and more, ready for The Hunter Gatherer staff to filter through, and decide whether the items would be right for their stores. The items that are not suitable for Hunter Gatherer are not trashed, but are distributed to the regular BSL community stores.
This little area here, is for volunteers such as I, to repair or rework broken clothes:
You'd be forgiven for thinking the following image is taken from the library scene in the movie Ghostbusters, but no, it is infact the warehouse of Brotherhood Books, a Social Enterprise from the BSL which sells high quality books to contribute funds to the Brotherhood’s charitable operations.
"Over the last 10 years, we have received in excess of 45 tonnes of donated books, and the collection continues to grow." Brotherhood Books
Lots and lots of donated fridges:
Ever wondered what might happen if you donate a fridge to the BSL? These fridges are tested by onsite electricians, if they work, great, they're ready for resale, if not, then its bye-bye fridge, they are disassembled, and sold for spare parts. A great recycling initiative, much better than taking a broken fridge to the tip to be thrown into landfill whole.
I spent the morning helping the Manager of Hunter Gatherer from the St Kilda store sort through her wheelie bins, she tells me her sorting day is one of the best parts of her job, like 'shopping for free'! I can see the attraction; just like browsing any thrift shop, your day would be filled with nostalgia and excitement on finding a hidden gem.
Oh hai there, Your Majesty.
An interesting morning, I hope to go back another day very soon.