The New to You sale is a win-win-win scenario. Taipei residents drop off an unwanted item, something usable that they can’t throw out with a clean conscience. The item is sold and the proceeds are directed to a different local charity every year. Meanwhile, one customer goes home with a bargain.
It’s like a Goodwill store, albeit one that’s open for business just one weekend a year, and that’s operated by a pair of colorful expatriates in Taipei.
There’s founder Lorena Poitras, a chatty and ebullient young woman with a hyper-charged shock of curly hair.
“I came to Taiwan at a time in my life when I wanted to experience something new for a year and no one in my family had lived outside of Canada before,” she said.
Eleven years later Poitras is still here, involved in dozens of Taipei-based projects with charities. Her main project is New to You, which is now in its third year.
“The ‘New to You Second Hand Charity Sale’ idea came about in a conversation with some friends,” Poitras said.
Poitras and other women expatriates were sitting on a Taipei park bench, chewing over the thorny problem of finding a store with affordable clothing in their sizes.
The quickest fix would have been a clothes swap. But they thought up something grander.
“We would accept donations of clothing and then have a party at someone’s house and sell the items for low cost in order to help out a charity,” Poitras said.
As word spread, “it was soon clear we couldn’t have it as a [house] party, and it became the New to You sale.”
The following year, the quantity of donated items quadrupled, and New to You raised NT$280,000 for the Taipei Women’s Rescue Foundation (婦女救援基金), Orphans of Nepal Trust and an independent rescuer who spays and neuters strays.
This year, all proceeds will go to rescue group Animals Taiwan to fund its upcoming relocation.
PASSING THE BATON
Because New to You has scaled up rapidly, this time Poitras enlisted the help of Liza Milne from Animals Taiwan, who will also take over the coordination of New to You starting in 2014.
“It was me who approached Liza with the idea. I suggested I work with [Animals Taiwan] on this event, and then play a smaller role in it in future years,” Poitras said.
Milne, an outgoing UK native who has lived in Taiwan for 19 years, is best known for her long-term role as chairwoman of Animals Taiwan. She coordinates much of its fundraising and has introduced events like drag nights and pub quizzes.
“I know it sounds corny, but the two of us together on this project is a pretty powerful thing,” Poitras said. “We are expecting it to be very big as many people remember last year’s event and the name is starting to catch on.”
The upcoming pop-up shop will use a one-price system.
All shirts are NT$50, all pants are NT$110 and dresses are NT$160. Designer brands like Calvin Klein, Banana Republic, Nike and Kenneth Cole are pulled out and priced slightly higher.
The sale also has secondhand shoes, jewelry, household items, books and handbags. Last year, two authentic Coach bags were sold for NT$1,500 each “to two very happy women!” Poitras said.
New to You is currently seeking volunteers to help sort, organize and hang items for the two-day sale. Also needed are donations of gently used clothing and books, as well as storage bins and metal coat hangers.