En Pointe 16 — Things Supporting RWB Exceeds Expectations after Reopening

Aug 08 2020 | Posted in Blog, En Pointe

For more than fifty years, Things has brought a certain vintage style to the Corydon area. Originally created by the Volunteer Committee for the Royal Winnipeg Ballet in 1969, the store which is now called Things Supporting the RWB, offers a large collection of unique, affordable antiques, collectibles, home furnishings and more. Staffed entirely by volunteers, the outlet has contributed more than one million dollars to Canada’s oldest ballet company over its five-decade lifespan, enabling the RWB to continue delivering world-class ballet to Winnipeg and beyond.

The year began in typical fashion for Things, which had just expanded its operations to include estate sales. The relative calm seemed to last until March 20th, when the Province of Manitoba issued a state of emergency and several public health orders intended to reduce the spread of COVID-19. As a result, business as usual at Things came to a sudden and unprecedented halt. As Ruth Gregory recalls, it was the first time she felt pangs of uncertainty about the future of the enterprise.

“I first discovered Things when I began looking into the value of certain items,” recalls Gregory, who is now one of the members of the Volunteer Committee for the Royal Winnipeg Ballet. “I was so impressed by the knowledge of the volunteers in the shop, when I saw an ad in the paper in 2015, I began volunteering too.”

As a staff member, Gregory quickly discovered the store’s association with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet was the primary motivator for many of the volunteers. Their sincere passion for supporting the arts inspired staff to exceed expectations, and Gregory recalls much excitement whenever the team had a big sales day. Unfortunately, their momentum was essentially halted by the arrival of COVID-19 in Winnipeg.

During the first few weeks of isolation, everyone was asking the same questions: How long will this last? When will it be safe to operate again? As public health recommendations were slowly relaxed and those questions were answered, the staff at Things couldn’t help but begin asking themselves a new question: will our clientele come back?

“I did wonder if they had forgotten us,” says Gregory, thinking back to the weeks leading up to the reopening, “turns out, I didn’t need to worry at all.”

Three months after closing, Things reopened to a flurry of activity. On June 15th, the first day of reopening, customers lined up in anticipation. Over the coming days, Things would welcome back many of its regular patrons, many of whom expressed gratitude and joy regarding the reopening. The reopening also brought in many new faces, who seemed equally grateful for the friendly customer service that Things is known for.

One week after opening, Things had earned more than twelve thousand dollars for the RWB. That number would nearly double to twenty thousand dollars by the end of June, only two weeks after Things reopened. It seemed that the time apart had renewed interest in the store, reinvigorated the volunteer team’s spirits, and enhanced the appreciation of human contact all around.

“With COVID, it makes it harder to do sidewalk sales,” says Gregory, who is part of a group looking for new, safer ways to attract customers to the shop. “It’s a store for everyone. You won’t find anything here that can’t be had for the best price. Everything is affordable, everything is clean, and everything works.”

If you are interested in Things Supporting the RWB or simply looking to add chinaware, objets d’art, vintage chic furniture, or vintage jewelry to your home, be sure to visit the building, located at 913 Corydon Avenue in Winnipeg, or call the volunteers at (204) 284-7331 anytime from 10am to 4pm, Tuesday to Saturday.