NEW GLASGOW – Dust is kicked up in the air as brooms push discarded construction materials into a pile in the middle of the room.
The sweepers, clients of Summer Street Industries in New Glasgow, have to work hard as renovations to the organization’s latest business venture are ongoing.
New Beginnings is an appropriate name for Summer Street’s foray into the retail business, said project leader Jannesta Fitzpatrick.
“It’s a new beginning for us, for our clients and for the customer,” she said.
The store, located on the corner of the East River Plaza next to H&R Block, will employ and train about half a dozen clients of Summer Street.
“Retail is new to us,” said Summer Street executive director Bob Bennett. “But we’re always looking for new opportunities for our clients.”
The store, slated to open in two to three weeks, will sell gently used clothing, unique gifts, crafts and art and house Summer Street’s trophy shop.
“If you’re looking to give a one-of-a-kind gift, then this is the place for you,” said Bennett. “They’ll be made and crafted from clients of other Summer Streets throughout Nova Scotia.”
Used clothing can be donated to New Beginnings at the Summer Street location on Park Street. There, the clothing will be washed, dried and ready for sale. Bennett believes this will be a great opportunity not just for the clients, but for other Pictou County residents as well.
“Every time someone comes in here to look around and make a purchase, they’ll be building relationships and connections with us.”
Fitzpatrick, who has been leading and planning this initiative for the past two years, said while this venture is uncharted territory, it is in line with Summer Street’s core principles.
“We’re always looking for job and training opportunities for our clients,” she said. “This store achieves both with the sales and training part.”
While profits won’t necessarily be the sole objective, Bennett said that New Beginnings will operate as a social enterprise, with people first.
“The money will go back into creating opportunities for our clients.”
Summer Street Industries works together with people with intellectual disabilities to discover opportunities and with the community to create awareness of the skills, talents and gifts that everyone has to offer.
On Twitter: @NGNewsJohn