Second-hand funds fund park

Blanche Verboom, manager of Second Time Around, says the store has contributed more than $200,000 to the park. Photo by Alexa Lawlor.

Second Time Around, the second-hand store in Ogema, Saskatchewan, does much more than sell antiques, it also raises money to support the Regional Park.

Driving into Ogema, one of the first things you see is the sign for the Regional Park. Behind the sign are two baseball diamonds, a grandstand, and a large building that holds a curling rink, a skating rink, and the town’s Heritage Hall.

The Regional Park owns Second Time Around, and the revenue goes toward the upkeep of the park. Since it opened, the store has contributed more than $200,000 to the park. Sandra Fisher, a member of the Regional Park board, says the money goes towards everything, but has mainly gone towards the new playground equipment and the swimming pool.

“We had put in 35 new campsites a few years back and we wouldn’t have had them without the money from the store,” said Fisher.

The driving forces behind the store were Blanche Verboom and her husband, Bob, who moved to Ogema in 1987. They owned the bowling alley for 12 years, and after they sold it in 2001, they began pushing for a second-hand store.

“I bugged them for probably two years to get this place going, and they couldn’t do anything until they had an empty building,” said Blanche, “So, when this place became vacant, they came to me and I said, ‘Yes. Let’s do it.’”

Bob passed away suddenly in 2016 from a stroke, and a bench in the front of the store is dedicated to his memory.

The second-hand store opened on June 1, 2009, on Main Street, between the post-office and the Credit Union. Over the years, the store has become a gathering place for people in the community, in addition to being a place to find anything from furniture and glassware, to books and stuffed toys. On a Monday afternoon in October, the store was filled with people, finding treasures like a Scooby-Doo pail for $0.25, or a new neon yellow hat for $1.

Inside, a large table next to the door hosts a coffee station, where large groups of people converse about everything from community news to medical issues. A bright green frog-shaped cookie jar sits on the table, for visitors to give donations instead of paying for a coffee.

Over 100 people come into the store weekly, and not all are locals – they come from all over Canada. “We had somebody come through to a funeral last week from Calgary that brought me stuff,” said Blanche.

Fisher says donations can come from anyone that knows about the store, whether they used to live in Ogema, or they have family members there.

The store is open for just 11 hours each week, on Monday and Wednesday afternoons and Saturday mornings. However, Blanche spends most of her time at the store, even if it isn’t open.

“We are very busy receiving things,” she says. “There’s not many days that I’m not here doing something. I probably spend at least 20 hours a week here because there’s always something to do.”

Blanche says she loves her work at the store. “It’s just a joy to see people come out of Regina, out of Weyburn, out of Rockglen, out of Willowbunch, out of Assiniboia, that are faithful to us, that come every couple of months,” she says.

Running small stores was always an activity that Blanche and her husband loved doing together. “It was just something that we’ve done for years and years,” she said. “We never killed each other, everybody got along.”

Last year, when Bob passed away, it affected the whole community. However, instead of closing the store, Blanche decided to immerse herself even more in her work at Second Time Around.

“You might wonder why I’m crazy enough to stay here, but I love this. I love dealing with the people. I love seeing the people, and dealing – I mean dealing. If I put a $5 price tag on something and they want it for $2, we deal.”

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