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Stettler’s Superfluity has been serving the community for over 40 years

A volunteer-operated business in Stettler has been serving the community for over four decades, and in that time has given much back to the community.
That’s a lot of Christmas! Superfluity is collecting Christmas items in preparation for the November sale. (kevin Sabo/Stettler Independent)

A volunteer-operated business in Stettler has been serving the community for over four decades, and in that time has given much back to the community.

The idea for Stettler’s Superfluity thrift store was born in 1979 when a group from the United Church Women were preparing clothes to send to Edmonton’s Bissel Centre.

Based on the ever-increasing clothing prices and the effect they had on low-income families, the church ladies began to see a need for a quality second-hand store in Stettler.

After checking out operations in Camrose and Red Deer thrift stores the group called a public meeting hosting representatives from around the region where they pitched their plan to create a community thrift store.

A 12-person board of directors was chosen out of the nearly 50 in attendance at the meeting, and the name Superfluity was chosen for being “unique and appropriate” as the word means “superabundance or excess supply.”

However, before the fledgling organization could even get going tragedy struck. A location on 50 Avenue had been picked for the new store, but the building was destroyed by fire before the move was finished.

Before long a new space was located and after much effort from volunteers who cleaned, painted, built shelves and organized the new store was ready for opening on Jan. 3, 1980.

In the first year alone, the new venture was proven successful with a revenue of just under $12,000.

All the items sold by Superfluity are donated by the community, and the funds not needed for operations are returned to the community as well to support various community groups. Being 100 per cent volunteer-run, the store currently uses about 200 hours of work per week using 65 active volunteers.

“It’s amazing,” said current Superfluity president, Nancy Land.

Land notes that the “real purpose” behind the store is to “recycle, repurpose, and reuse” whatever they can to divert materials from ending up in the landfill.

In the 40+ years of operation, Superfluity has raised and donated more than $1 million back to Stettler and the surrounding area. Beneficiaries have included Big Valley School, Donalda Community for the Arts, the Stettler Handibus, the Heartland Youth Centre, the Shock Trauma Air Rescue Society (STARS), the Steel Wheel Stampede and many other groups.

The years have had their challenges for the organization. The facility has moved multiple times over the years, most recently into the old Stettler Community Hall on Main Street. During the pandemic, the venerable organization was forced to close its doors multiple times so as to not put its volunteers at risk. Finally, 73 per cent of the volunteers are seniors, a significant portion of which are over the age of 80, with fewer young people stepping in to help out.

Still, when the last of the pandemic-era restrictions were lifted and Superfluity and its volunteers were able to get back to work in 2022, Stettler residents supported the facility in spades.

According to Land, 2022 was the best year ever for Superfluity; the organization raised enough funds that in addition to all the usual donations that were made they were able to donate an additional $2,000 to each of the local charities and organizations.

“We’re still kind of dazzled,” said Rose Westner, the Superfluity treasurer.

Currently, the biggest issue plaguing the charity group is thefts from the donation boxes at the back of the building. Land notes that instead of stealing, those in need can get gift certificates from Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) for their store.

Land did say that there are cameras on the donation box and they work with the RCMP where possible, but overall there is not much they can do except encourage people to drop off during regular business hours.

“I don’t see how we can change it,” said Land.

Superfluity is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Most donations, except for furniture, of good condition items are accepted. Any items that aren’t able to be resold by the thrift store are passed on to the Diabetic Society.

-With files from Superfuity’s archive.

In addition to selling second-hand items, Superfluity also runs various silent auctions as fundraisers. (Kevin Sabo/Stettler Independent)
Stettler’s Superfluity carries a wide variety of clothing and homewares. (Kevin Sabo/Stettler Independent)

Kevin Sabo

About the Author: Kevin Sabo

I’m Kevin Sabo. I’ve been a resident of the Castor area for the last 12 years and counting, first coming out here in my previous career as an EMT.
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