Nova Scotia

Store gives work experience to those with disabilities

A new shop in Halifax is using its business as a training ground for those who have difficulties finding jobs.
People with special needs run Common Values Emporium to gain experience before stepping out into the workforce. (CBC)

A new shop in Halifax is using its business as a training ground for those who have difficulties finding jobs.

People with special needs run Common Values Emporium, at the corner of Agricola and Cunard Streets, as a way to gain experience before stepping out into the workforce.  

The store opened Wednesday and sells everything from dish towels to paint brushes.  

'I think it's a fantastic opportunity to help people to move their life forward."

Jan Hovdevo is an employment coach for the store.

"We employ people with cross disabilities and they can be someone who is self-referred or they get referred to us through other agencies like Capital Health, for example," says Hovdevo, "They can be a person who is in a wheelchair or a mental health consumer or they could have both."

Hovdevo works hands-on with staff, teaching them skills they can use in the real world. She says the store's volunteer workers  have a tougher time finding employment.

"I think we're finding that they're having a really difficult time which is why they're using services to get support. The market is just tough right now. You're competing with a lot of skilled people out there," she says.

Affirmative Industries is the group behind the shop and two others in the HRM, Petstuff on the Go in Dartmouth and Dartmouth's Mort's Convenience. Hovdevo says they're all successful.

"We have a young girl right now, she's working as a warehouse demonstrator at Costco, we've got another person that's working at the Sportsplex in Dartmouth... We've got people in grocery stores, pretty much anywhere."  

Common Values Emporium has been getting good feedback from customers.  

"I think it's fantastic and an opportunity to help people to move their life forward," said customer Liz Cleary. "I think people should shop in stores that promote things like this."

Hovdevo estimates the store will employ 40 people over the next year.

She says it takes six to eight months for workers to learn all the skills needed to find a paying job.

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