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Just A Second Store

National Office of NCJW and Just A Second Store Close

By Rhonda Spivak

The Canadian national office for National Council of Jewish Women [NCJW] which was located in the Gwen Secter building here on Main Street has  closed its office, after an organizational re-structuring  which was necessary to cut costs.

Dianne Glass, Canadian President of the NCJW told the Winnipeg Jewish Review that “We had to close the national office in Winnipeg and cut a staff position because of economic reasons, in order to cut costs.  We just couldn’t keep up the costs of running a national office.”

Glass added, “At our national meeting [of NCJW] in November 2009, it was decided that we would allocate different functions that the national office was carrying out to each Canadian chapter [of NCJW], and that the national office would close. So for example, the Edmonton office is looking after donation cards, Toronto is looking after communications and web-site, Vancouver is in charge of advocacy and our membership roster etc.   We knew we had to make changes.”

According to Glass, notwithstanding that the decision for the re-structuring was made for economic reasons, there may be some benefits to the new structure.

“This new system gives each section more ownership of the organization. From a personal perspective, I think it is good because now each section in  each city  understands better what it takes to run a national organization…The presidents of each chapter are communicating more between each other than before,”  she said.

She also noted that “We are going to evaluate how this new system is working out for each section and see if we need to make any more adjustments.”

The hard economic times have also affected the Winnipeg section of NCJW.

“Just A Second” thrift store, which has been run by the Winnipeg section of the NCJW for over 60 years is closing its doors.

“This has been very sad for us.  For more than 60 years, since 1949 we’ve had a thrift store.   We were the last Jewish store of its kind in the city.  Ort and Hadassah closed their stores many years ago. It’s been sad for members of our organization and for customers in the neighborhood,” said Sharon Allentuck, a member of the Winnipeg Chapter of NCJW and chairperson in charge of supervising the closing of the store.

Allentuck told the Winnipeg Jewish Review that the store, located on 725 Osborne street was losing money in the past year, and will close on March 27.

“Our overhead was too high, and rent was too high.  There’s a lot of competition from other thrift stores and we just couldn’t keep up.  There are also discount stores that sell new merchandise for low prices. We had to make a business decision.  It was very difficult but we had to do it… About 20 years ago, we were profiting at least $50,000 from the store.  Over the years we made a lot of money with the store, and money came into the Jewish community through it. But in the last few years we were struggling.”

When it first opened, the thrift shop help fund was in 1949 the country’s first seniors’ drop-in centre — the Golden Age Club. That later became the Gwen Secter building on Main Street which is still owned by the Winnipeg section of NCJW.

Rose Aziman, President of the Winnipeg section of NCJW said that her organization will continue to sustain itself “by doing other fundraising and by applying for grants for specific projects, from differing agencies, depending on the project.”

Allentuck said, for example, “when we had a genetic testing educational project last year for Jewish women, we successfully applied for a grant from the Jewish Foundation of Manitoba.”

She also noted that the section has telethons to raise money from its membership, and other fundraising activities.

“We own the building where the Gwen Secter Creative Living Centre operates, although the Living Centre pays all the expenses associated with operating the building.  Because of that we have been able to keep the building and not had to consider selling it.  That’s good for everybody,” Allentuck said.

A version of this article will appear in the Canadian Jewish News. 

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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.