Buying used products no longer rhymes with poverty

Inflation is driving up the cost of living while wages are lagging behind, making second-hand items attractive. Quebecers love it dearly, a new poll shows.

They are two in three who bought, sold, gave away or received used goods between May 2021 and May 2022, according to a survey conducted by the magazine protect yourselfwhich will devote a large part of its next issue to the subject.

“The second-hand market has never been so accessible,” writes journalist Amélie Cléroux.

In her file, she shows how you can save a lot when buying a second-hand car.

She was able to save $869 on five essential baby items, namely a stroller, washable diapers, a playmat, a bed, and a highchair, compared to the original price.

And for a first apartment—dining room set, sofa, and library—we’re talking savings of $1,009.

Not just internet

Marketplace, which originated from Facebook and is owned by Meta, is by far the most popular option among Quebecers.

But there are also shops like Renaissance or the Society of Saint-Vincent de Paul (SSVP).

These NPOs receive donations and offer them for sale. With the profits they pay decent wages and create social programs.

“We help 2,000 people a year in our social mission,” confirms Renaissance General Manager Éric St-Arnaud, who isn’t really known for showing his braces.

He sees that customers are changing.

“We’ve long been associated with poverty, and that’s becoming less and less the case,” he says.

In the SSVP we make the same observation.

“We are working hard to restore our image, make it younger and focus more on the customer experience,” enumerates Valérie Gagnon, new director for 1 year, with passion.

Etna Jarquin, who was crossed yesterday at Renaissance, will not complain about it.

Etna Jarquin, foreign student and client of Renaissance

Photo Chantal Poirier

Etna Jarquin, foreign student and client of Renaissance

“I like coming here. I’m a student and I can buy nice clothes for little money,” says the 28-year-old Mexican with a smile.

Arriving in the country 5 months ago, she quickly discovered the place.

“I come often enough that by the time I arrive, the products have changed,” she laughs.

Renaissance, much more than one business among others

Although Renaissance’s client base has changed significantly, its mission remains completely intact.

The non-profit organization (NPO) has 17 department stores in Quebec and 58 spaces where people can donate their items and clothing.

“We take people’s donations, we sell them and we can pay for our social programs. There’s something for everyone,” says director Éric St-Arnaud proudly.

First, the organization employs 1,150 people who earn well above minimum wage and receive benefits and pension funds.

Then the NPO offers integration paths, ie six-month paid training courses.

There are also the Centers d’Aide à l’Emploi Renaissance (CAER), which can be found in many of the organisation’s second-hand shops.

It’s all funded almost 100% by in-store sales.

“I don’t have any owners, I’m an NPO run by a board of 12 volunteers,” recalls the director.

This gives him a free hand to help people, as Renaissance intends.

In total, the NPO helps more than 2,000 people to reintegrate each year.

“100% local”

Éric St-Arnaud, who has led Renaissance for four years and has worked there for 14, is particularly proud to be at the helm of a company that is ‘100% local’.

“That makes us strong. We receive on site. We sell locally. We create jobs locally, and in addition we help the world locally,” he says.

A recent study also allows him to look to the future with great confidence.

“By 2030, boutiques like ours will outsell fast fashion. There’s a real need for what we’re selling,” he says.

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