New Calgary market will offer pay-what-you-can clothes, household goods and food

A new second-hand market is opening in downtown Calgary with no price tags. 

Good Neighbour Community Market aims to be a community gathering place

Pay-what-you-want thrift store aims to help those who need it

2 years ago
Duration 3:01
Good Neighbour Market is opening in downtown Calgary with no price tags for clothing, food, and household items. It's only possible because of generous donations and a community of volunteers.

A new second-hand market is opening in downtown Calgary with no price tags. 

Good Neighbour Community Market, located at 149 Fifth Avenue S.E., is just steps away from the Bow skyscraper and Chinatown.

It will offer donated clothing, books, houseplants, household goods and non-perishable food items. If customers like, they can make a voluntary donation to help cover the market's expenses. 

Alice Lam, who co-founded the market, said a team of about 45 volunteers from electricians to painters have been hard at work getting the market ready for opening day on July 24.

"Starting a store is not easy, but it's been 'many hands make light work.' We've been really blessed to have a network of folks who really believe in the mission of what we're doing here," she said.

  • WATCH | See what's inside this pay-what-you-want thrift store

"It's been really exciting and inspirational … especially after a really hard year, feeling isolated and withdrawn from the community."

The Calgary market invites shoppers to pay what they can for donated items. (Helen Pike/CBC)

Lam said the market sprang from a previous initiative, a free community fridge set up in Crescent Heights.

People donating food were also interested in contributing clothing and other items. A landlord offered up the space on Fifth Avenue for free, as long as Lam's team of volunteers revitalized it at their own cost.

"This store, just like the fridge, is about mutual aid. It's about giving a barrier-free experience. So we're not checking folks' income when they come to the store. We're really just relying on the community to take care of each other," she said.

The market is just Lam's latest community initiative. She's also the organizer behind a push to deliver bouquets of flowers to isolated seniors and the founder of Volly, an app matching volunteers with nonprofits.

She said she hopes the market can become a community hub, and possibly offer services like financial literacy lessons for community members or artists' studios. 

"I really like this neighbourhood because we're located so close to so much subsidized housing, Chinatown and the East Village. There's actually quite a high population of seniors, low-income individuals that live in the neighbourhood — and there really isn't a community gathering space for them," she said.

Gabriella Wong Ken, a cofounder of the market and of mutual aid organization The Hatch, said it was important to the team to make the market inviting and inclusive.

The entrance and walls are decorated by local artists.

"I think that everybody deserves access to everyday items that they need in a dignified way," she said. "For us … this is just purely about helping other people, which I think is just wonderful."

Donations are welcomed at the market between 1 and 5 p.m. on Fridays. Donations can also be dropped off at Tigerstedt Market or Le Freak. 

With files from Helen Pike


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