"Avenue of sharing": a solidarity thrift store born the day after Irma

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"I have become a regular customer since I spotted a floral dress on a Facebook ad" sums up Claire * who prefers to remain anonymous to guard against possible comments from her colleagues. She who describes herself as a magnet for "beautiful things" often comes in search of second-hand clothes, bought at a ridiculous price, which she then customizes. “You must not be afraid to sort to find the beautiful pieces. I sometimes find branded clothes, ”she continues, specifying that they should be washed before wearing them.

The thrift store in the open air which now brings happiness to Claire, but also to people in a more precarious situation, has an ironically prestigious name: "Avenue of sharing". It is located a few meters from the fire station, on the other side of the road, in the great descent "Basically, we bought an old junk that the young people had to renovate while passing their diploma from the sea. But she was at Oyster Pond and sank with Irma, "explains Muriel Chabert, the president of the Sea Rooster Foundation created in the summer of 2016. In her room on the ground floor of a building in La Savane, the association provided members with a recording studio. The adjoining courtyard served as a garage for the special mechanical workshop for motorcycles. "We lost everything we had," she laments. But despite the infiltrations, the premises are still standing.

The solidarity store was thus born the day after Irma, out of necessity. "Our neighborhood was not distributed at all so we started to bring food in all the streets perpendicular to the road, and to the refugees in the school complex" advances Muriel Chabert.

At the beginning, the association distributes its own stocks and what it finds here and there. Until the soldiers, touched by the outpouring of solidarity, came to fill the room with water and food. "We were able to feed people for free for four months" assures the president of the association who also received seven pallets full of food donations, but also clothes, hygiene products and toys collected by her daughter and her friends. in Clermont Ferrand, as well as donations from individuals and the Fore institute in Martinique.

Word of mouth begins to work. "The last time we came back from Saint-Barthélemy with 19 pallets" she underlines. In Saint-Martin, there is no big quest but more and more people come to drop off clothes, toys and furniture when they move, leave the island or simply during their household cleaning. spring. Besides, as we speak, a lady in a pick-up comes to drop bags of school books and textiles. She also wants to donate furniture but could not carry it alone. Two young people leave with her to lend her a hand.

As for the clientele, it changes over the months. “At the beginning there was a little everyone. People who found themselves without anything overnight. You may have a credit card, in those moments it is useless to you ”points out Muriel Chabert. “Then we had a phase with poorer people and people from the middle class who found themselves in a precarious situation because for example they have to relocate at their expense while waiting for their insurance benefits…. Gradually we also have slightly better-off customers who are sensitive to the ecological aspect of recycling clothes. Irma also showed us the excesses of overconsumption. They tell themselves why not buy second-hand clothing rather than waste it. "

(More details on www.soualigapost.com)

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