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Charitable Style: St. Marys’ Pass It On Store
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By Nigel Garnaitis (Photos courtesy Carey Pope)


(click image to view full size)





As you drive through downtown St. Marys, you will pass an eclectic store filled with vintage furniture, stylish and thrifty clothes, timeless household goods, and a passionate owner. Carey Pope is the owner of Pass It On, which has been in operation since 2004. She ensures that the store is brimming with unique quality goods, and it shows, Pass It On is known for its exceptional products. As one online reviewer notes, “With a few new scarves tucked into my purse, and a promise to return, I left Pass It On feeling like I had made a new friend. Carey was not only welcoming and friendly but a great ambassador for the St. Marys community.”

Behind every good thing is a community of hard-working individuals, and Pass It On is no exception. While Pope was volunteering with the St. Marys’ youth centre over a decade ago, she got a real sense of the opportunities that were in front of her. Out of a deep desire to give back to her community, Pope got a loan from her mother to start the store. She wanted a place that could function as a youth hub, as well as a revenue generator for local projects. Since then, she has paired sustainable business practice with generous philanthropy.

The amount of organizations Pope supports through Pass It On is too long to list entirely. She has donated to develop scholarships for the local high school (St. Marys District Collegiate Institute), help fund the St. Marys city skate park, the local libraries’ summer reading program, as well as local arts and environmental projects. This doesn’t include the Dream Project she supports in the Dominican Republic, the community of St. Marks in Haiti, and the shelters in El Salvador for children with HIV. She also accepts donated bikes and, through another organization, sends them to impoverished people around the world to help them get jobs and support business ventures.

Pope attributes the store’s success to its connections to the local community. Unlike big box stores, Pass It On sees long-term value in aged products, and wants to share their beauty with others. She also pays her employees a living wage instead of the minimum wage, and provides opportunities for local youth through co-operative education programs. With the amount of information that is available today, consumers have more choices as well as more responsibility when it comes to where they shop. Pope hopes that more people will change their shopping habits and support places that they believe in, as well as focus on supporting local businesses and organizations.

In the next couple of months some exciting new products will be coming into the store. For example, Carey is bringing in metalwork and jewelry from the Dominican Republic, and the profits will help a rural community support their hydro bills. Renovations are also underway to make space for plants from the St. Marys Horticulture Society, whose profits will go toward supporting local green space initiatives.

Although it is not specifically a Christian business or organization, Pass It On is a beautiful vision of what happens when communities see long term value in products and people, and work together to share and support meaningful, life-giving initiatives. Make sure you get to downtown St. Marys to experience Pass It On for yourself!

You can find Pass It On at 31 Water St., St Marys, ON. You can also contact them at 519-284-0059, or email passitonstore.stmarys@gmail.com.