The Perpetual Bazaar has been a fixture in downtown Brampton since 1974. It’s a non-profit consignment store staffed entirely by volunteers and managed by a volunteer board of directors.
Originally founded by a group of citizens out of a church basement to be a support to the senior citizens of our community, it has grown, through much hard work and dedication, into the retail establishment that is located on Brampton’s Main Street today. They moved into their current location in 2015 through the help of a very generous anonymous benefactor and have continued to grow ever since.
Everything in the store is hand-made by senior citizens or people with disabilities. They have approximately 200 vendors, many of whom possess 70 or more years of experience in arts that are becoming increasingly in demand while harder to find in this day of mass produced throwaways. They are well known for quality products and novelty items ranging from simple bookmarks to heirloom quilts and just about anything one can imagine in between. If they don’t have it on the shelf, there is a good chance they may know just where to get it made.
The organization is still a community-based registered charity and they still pride themselves in providing services and supports to senior citizens and people with disabilities by:
* relieving isolation and loneliness by offering an outlet to sell handcrafted items and showcasing the abilities and creativity of senior citizens and disabled persons. Keeping hands and minds in use to offset the mental and physical effects of aging.
* promoting the projects of senior citizens and the disabled in our community
* establishing and supporting programs, projects and other activities which contribute to the advancement and development of the abilities and interests of senior citizens and people with disabilities.
They participate in the community by organizing craft sales to provide a place for community vendors to show and sell their products and they have offered assistance to students in a business studies course at a local senior elementary school by providing them with a venue for selling their products and offering support for their program.
Their volunteers offer craft lessons free of charge at the local library to provide new skills for those wanting to learn and a place to socialize for those who are looking for a friendly group of similar interests.
They participate in local events in the downtown sector to support the Brampton BIA in their efforts to promote our city. From Easter egg hunts to Halloween handouts, from Hometown Hockey to Classic Cars, they try to get involved in some way to help keep Brampton thriving.
The window displays have become an interesting focal point with customers venturing downtown to see the latest offerings. In November, they have a special window display to honour our local veterans for Remembrance Day. Our volunteers produce knitted and crocheted poppies for donations that are, in turn, presented to the local Royal Canadian Legions in support of their Poppy Fund. They won first place for their Hometown Hockey window display this past April.
Most of all, they provide a welcoming place to stop and chat for the people of Brampton as they go about their daily tasks. There are many people in our community who are alone. Having a place with a friendly atmosphere where they are encouraged to stop and share a bit of time can help to brighten their day and make it just a little bit less lonely.
As a not-for-profit organization, the only source of income is the small markup added to items offered for sale. They rely heavily on corporate sponsors, donations from supporters and their own fundraising efforts to remain in business.
The stars and backbone of their organization are their volunteers – about 25 women (and a couple of men) with an average age of 80 years, who put in countless hours to keep the store running smoothly. They have no paid staff. Even the board of directors is entirely volunteer.
“Our reward is the satisfaction of knowing that we are serving a need for the vulnerable members of our community,” said Kat Pechmann, Perpetual Bazaar president. “But we need help. We are looking for those interested in donating in some way, either by supporting our fundraising projects, providing a need from our wish list or becoming a corporate sponsor to enable us to continue our support of Brampton’s community.
“We are looking forward to celebrating our 45th anniversary in July of next year and, with the support of the community, it will be a milestone celebration.”
On June 21, Perpetual Bazaar will be hosting an open house at the store for visitors to drop in, enjoy some refreshments and see what they are all about and what they have to offer.
Perpetual Bazaar is located at 111 Main Street North, Brampton (directly across from the Heritage Theatre). Call 905-453-5525 or email [email protected] for more information.
Photo: John Sanderson presents a Rotary Club donation to Perpetual Bazaar president Kat Pechmann.