NOVA Maison in Hudson has been open for a few weeks now, but things are far from normal.
The furniture store is only open three days a week, while their clothing store, NOVA Boutique, is open by appointment only.
Both shops are run solely by volunteers — most of them over the age of 70.
Janet Ellerbeck, who’s in charge of both stores, says she’s lost about half of her volunteers as a result of the pandemic.
“I don’t have the normal girls who used to work their shifts,” she said. “Some of them have husbands who aren’t well, so they’re scared they’re going to get their husbands sick.”
NOVA Hudson is a charitable, non-profit organization that receives no federal or provincial funding.
It relies on donations to run its stores, and all of the proceeds go to provide nursing care to patients in the community.
Ellerbeck says the pandemic has done a number on the stores. If they’re lucky, she estimates each store will make around 20 per cent of what they normally would in a year.
“We have rent to pay,” she said. “It’s $2,500 a month at the clothing store and we haven’t sold any clothes in four months.”
The West Island Mission has experienced similar issues.
Over the last few months, the organization has lost a handful of older and experienced volunteers.
“Typically during the week, we would have about 25 volunteers come through the door,” said Suzanne Scarrow, the mission’s executive director. “At the very beginning of the pandemic, we went from a typical 25 to about five.”
In order for volunteers to be able to work safely and at a distance, the mission has changed how it operates, including installing a mezzanine.
Scarrow says with that, hopefully all of the volunteers they lost, will soon return.
“It was a long four months of them not being able to come in and do their work, so now they’re coming back in. They’re happy, they’re excited and they’re excited to see each other,” she said.
“The energy in the warehouse is really lovely.”
Both organizations hope that that energy combined with the help of the community, will get them through this rough patch.