A first-rate guy selling second-hand goods: Dan Hayward employs 'the people nobody will hire'

At Dan’s Place, in the Centre Square Mall in Yellowknife, Dan Hayward employs six people and all of his staff have one thing in common — it’s hard for them to get jobs elsewhere.

'We all have our issues, so we work well together,' says shop owner of his staff

Dan Hayward (left), owner of Dan's Place second-hand shop in Centre Square Mall in Yellowknife, with his employees Bill, Mariah, and Scotty Clarke. (CBC)

Dan Hayward is not a rich man, but he has plenty of heart.

Hayward, 68, is the owner and operator of the second-hand shop Dan's Place, located in the Centre Square Mall in Yellowknife. The shop has recently expanded into three vacant storefronts in the mall, creating a 8,000-square-foot cornucopia of used video games, movies, electronics, tools, and furniture.

Hayward employs six people. All of his staff have one thing in common — it's hard for them to get jobs elsewhere.

"We are the people nobody will hire," Hayward said, including himself.

"We all have our issues, so we work well together."

Whether it be depression, addictions, or mental illness, Hayward has committed to being open and accommodating to his employees where other business owners may have moved on to the next resume.

"When I started working with him, I was in dirty old clothes," said Scotty Clarke. "I was living on the street."

"Dan is a people person… He's really good with people."

Dan Hayward closes a sale with handshake. (CBC)

Hayward said before he quit drinking in 1983, he often had run-ins with the law, and credits his compassion today to those darker times.

"I'm not no saviour, don't get me wrong. I just would like to help if I can," he said.

Hayward's heart extends beyond his employees. He also has a soft spot for his customers — especially single parents looking for hockey equipment for their children, or a cash-strapped couple just trying to survive.

"Take it with you and test it out," Hayward said to a couple inspecting a used lamp. "Pay me back when you get rich."

And that generosity may be one of the reasons why Hayward has never gotten rich himself. He has opened and closed numerous businesses over 40-plus years. His most recent venture before Dan's Place was Headgear, a clothing store he closed in 2014.

A customer browses in one of the three storefronts occupied by Dan Hayward's second-hand shop at the Centre Square Mall in Yellowknife.

Hayward admits he still lives paycheque to paycheque, like most of his customers.

"I haven't learned much because I haven't seemed to been able to capitalize on making it rich. I don't have no boats. I don't have no Ski-Doos ... I just like doing it," Hayward said.

"If the key fits the door in the morning, then it's good. When Leo [the local locksmith] changes the lock, then I know I am in trouble."

Hayward said Dan's Place is making enough sales to pay the bills and wages, but that's about it. He hopes the store will catch on with people from outside Yellowknife's downtown community. 

"It's going to take a year to get the people from what I call the rich sections of town to realize we do have some good stuff down here," Hayward said.

"So, for all the people in Niven [subdivision] and the people around the Walmart store, you're welcome downtown."


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