The Metro Care and Share Thrift store on Agricola St. in Halifax closed last month, but the cause behind the venture will continue. 

Mel Boutilier opened the thrift store in the fall of 2014 to raise money to help fund tuition for young people who want to get a degree or learn a trade. The program is called Halifax Scholars.

This winter, Boutilier said, the future of the store came into question. Boutilier learned the owners of the building were seeking a permit to tear it down and put up condos on the site.

He said he decided to close the shop because of the cost to heat the building through winter with decreased foot traffic, and an uncertain future in the building.

"It was just a bit too uncertain as to whether we should stay during the winter and pay the expenses and perhaps lose money," said Boutilier. "When the possibility is there that they might get a permit sometime during the summer and fall, we wouldn't have enough time to recoup, make money back."

The store employed four people, two of them still work for the society. The rest of the work at the store was done by volunteers. 

Boutilier said the service will be missed in the community. 

'A hard decision'

"With thrift stores, you depend on what people bring," said Boutilier. "And so people were bringing us lots of things and telling us I want to bring this because I like what you're doing and I want to support you. And so, to think that we would be no longer doing that and seeing the people on a daily basis, it was a hard decision."

Mel Boutilier

Mel Boutilier inside the office of Metro Care and Share Society, which will forge ahead without its thrift store. (Stephanie VanKampen/CBC)

But he plans to continue raising money for the Halifax Scholars program through corporate and business sponsors.

Boutilier turns 88 years old on Friday. But he said, he's not slowing down. 

"Well, yes," Boutilier said. "There's still things to do." 

The Metro Care and Share Society's head office remains in the building, next to where the thrift store had been housed before it closed in December. Boutilier said he plans to keep the offices there for the time being. 

The society aims to raise $300,000 by the end of 2016. Boutilier won't say how much they've raised so far, but said the group still has a long way to go.

So far, the society has helped one young man enroll in community college, and has identified seven more it would like to help put through school. 

"I think everyone of us has a desire to help somebody that's hurting," Boutilier said. "They just need to find ways and means to do it."