Posted on 11 April 2012 by Mathew White
One man’s junk is another man’s treasure.
That’s something Margaret Ogilvie couldn’t say enough as she gave a tour of the Community Living Flea Market in Osoyoos, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary this month.
“It’s been fantastic!” said Ogilvie, who is the current president of the Community Living Auxiliary, which is a branch of the South Okanagan Association for Integrated Community Living (SOAICL) – a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting people with development disabilities.
Ogilvie has been roaming the maze that is the Community Living Flea Market since it first opened back in 2002.
“Ten years ago, we wanted to find ways to help the society and our clients with development disabilities,” said Ogilvie.
Ogilvie said the auxiliary used to host afternoon teas and bake sales for their clients (those with disabilities), which was a huge success at the time, but the CEO of the SOAICL figured they could do a lot more by opening and running a flea market. So that’s exactly what they did.
“We started with one little room and it’s just multiplied and multiplied,” said Ogilvie. “We call this the biggest downtown mall in Osoyoos.”
Running with the help of roughly 25 volunteers and seven clients (who are paid for their time), the flea market has been a resounding success this past decade, said Ogilvie.
The fact that they can pay their clients makes all the difference because it allows them to feel established and to be involved with something that truly helps the community, she said, adding none of this would have been possible without the help of their clients and volunteers.
So just what has this flea market been selling over the past decade?
Well, with the exception of a few items, Ogilvie said pretty much everything under the sun. Whether its dishes, sports gear, furniture, books or movies, almost everything has a place and a price at the Community Living Flea Market.
The only thing the flea market stays away from, said Ogilvie, are clothing, due to a lack of proper washing facilities, baby equipment, due to liability concerns, and large, outdated electronics because they can be recycled.
Ogilvie said all the money made from the flea market goes towards one thing – helping their clients.
The SOAICL has a few living facilities in the South Okanagan that house a number of their clients, and the money made from the flea market is used to help those people in any way possible.
“So really what we are, is we’re a fundraiser to help the society,” said Ogilvie.
And simply “helping” the society may be a bit of an understatement, considering over the past 10 years the flea market has donated more than $50,000 to their clients, which has gone towards everything from new furniture, over-run apartment costs, carbon monoxide detectors and even Christmas gifts.
“We have a lot of clients who do not have parents alive anymore, so what we do is give one of our workers $800 … and say, ‘you go out, and you get Christmas gifts for the clients that don’t have a mom and a dad,’ ” said Ogilvie. “Everything is about our clients.”
Looking back over the past 10 years, Ogilvie said the most rewarding thing has been seeing the place grow, and at the same time, helping so many people.
“The rewarding part is that we are helping others and that’s what life is all about,” said Ogilvie. “I really believe that we need to not be so self-centered, that all we see is our needs. When we go out of our needs and help others, that’s the most rewarding. That’s a paycheque in itself.”
The Community Living Flea Market will officially celebrate its 10th anniversary on Saturday, April 28 from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Ogilvie said she would love to see everyone from the community who has made this project such a success over the years, both the donators and the buyers. There will be coffee and cake for all those who attend.
“It’s just to say thank you to the people who bring us things and the people who come buy things,” said Ogilvie. “It’s just a celebration to say we’ve been here for 10 years and we appreciate our customers and we appreciate those who bring us their treasures.”
Looking forward, Ogilvie said she wants to see the flea market continue to grow and continue to help their clients and the residents of Osoyoos.