‘I don’t want money to rule this store’: Nanaimo, B.C. thrift shop gives back

Denis Bezeau, owner of Deni’s Dynamite Deals in Nanaimo, B.C., donates the proceeds from his thrift shop to groups and individuals in need in his community, including school sports teams. Global News

Ticking clocks, vinyl records, artwork and other trinkets populate the walls, tables and shelves of Deni’s Dynamite Deals in Nanaimo, B.C.

Since the thrift shop opened four years ago, owner Denis Bezeau said the quality of donated items has reached new heights, allowing him to give more supplies and sales money to local charities, schools, groups and individuals in need.

“If they can’t afford it, they can have it if they really need it,” Bezeau told Global News, as customers trickled in on a Friday afternoon. “I don’t want money to rule this store, I want this to be a community.”

Bezeau bought the shop — once a grocery store — in the Harewood neighbourhood in 2018. He had just retired and said it grew into the secondhand shop it is today rather organically.

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“When I first took this store nothing was really planned. This was all done accidentally as it grew,” he explained. “We started giving off a little bit of money a month, and it’s grown to giving $30,000 for the month of April.”

Since 2018, Bezeau he’s donated $140,000 to schools and charities through the shop, including the Crossroads Crisis Pregnancy Centre, the Nanaimo Child Development Centre, and various school sports teams. He’s also donated about $180,000 in free items to those who walk into the shop in need.

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“I try to do $200 a day that goes out the door free,” he said. “This is about families that need it and really don’t have the money and struggle.”

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Over the years, Bezeau’s efforts have been noticed by his community. Roughly 90 per cent of his stock is now donated, with the remainder sourced from garage sales.

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“Since word has gotten out about what Deni does in the community, the community supports the store with so many great donations,” said donor Geanine Robey, who popped in on Friday.

“Whenever he knew there was a need, he would help,” added another donor, Leanna Seriani. “It’s just wonderful.”

Said customer Bob Irving, “He’s not like any other thrift store I’ve known that just grabs and puts it in their pocket. He gives it back to the community and that’s kudos from me. Absolutely.”

Jane Reynolds, principal of John Barsby Secondary School in Nanaimo, said Bezeau donated $14,000 to the school two weeks ago. He has donated to its football team since 2019 and supported its drumming, volleyball and basketball programs as well.

“It’s amazing, right?” Reynolds said in an interview. “It’s really a message of hope, and community and generosity.”

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Bezeau said he has a soft spot for sports because he was an athlete for much of his life.

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“Sports to me has been everything and that’s why I want kids to be involved in everything,” he explained. “I get involved with kids that need to be in sports. I make sure they have the equipment and I pay for their fees to get in.”

In addition to sporting equipment, Bezeau said he can always use more vinyl record donations, as they’re popular with teens and soar off the shelves.

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