Local op shop gives back to community

Stephen and Carmen Wells outside their opportunity shop Finders Keepers 17

A local opportunity shop is giving back to the community by donating profits to local charities and supporting those in the community who need a helping hand.

Finders Keepers 17 has been open for seven months now and is run by retirees Carmen and Stephen Wells.

Carmen Wells said they wanted to provide support and assistance to the Peninsula community with no intentions of making a profit.

“Two years ago, we arrived at Ettalong, and I put my hand up to work at the local op-shop,” she said.

“My boss at the time was unfortunately diagnosed with cancer and asked me if I wanted to purchase the shop; after a lot of thought and considering COVID-19, we said yes.

“We don’t buy anything; everything has been donated.

“Once we have paid all the utilities, the rent, the electricity and the insurances, we donate the money that is left.”

Wells said they had donated profits to local domestic violence organisations, animal care facilities, wildlife funds, Woy Woy CWA and Mingaletta at Umina Beach.

“We have also sent boxes and boxes of clothes and supplies to an Aboriginal mission in Western Australia, and we also donate to the Salvation Army in Gosford,” she said.

“A few weeks ago, a woman and her young family lost their house in a fire, they had nothing; so we closed the shop door and told her to help herself.

“She picked out clothes, sheets, pillowcases, doonas, shoes, toiletries, fry pans, and walked out with carloads full.

“She asked us how much it would be, and we wouldn’t accept any money— it was a contribution from us (with) the help of the community.”

Wells said the donations given to local charities and those in need weren’t possible without the community’s help.

“Thank you, thank you, so much to everyone for coming in, donating, and helping, and to my shop volunteers as well, we can’t do it without you,” she said.

“The community has been wonderful; people are coming from Sydney, Glebe, Blacktown and Penrith, they have just heard that we aren’t expensive, and we have everything you could need.”

She said the shop was doing so well that her husband had to get his electrical Test and Tag Training and his Occupational Health and Safety documentation to safely sell electrical appliances.

“We get a lot of electrical, we get coffee machines, hairdryers, hair curlers, but by law, we can’t sell them without the right training,” she said.

“So, Stephen is a retiree, has just turned 70, but had to go back to school!

“Now that he’s done his training, we can attach the cords and plugs to electrical equipment and conduct safety testing before we sell the appliances.

“I am very proud of him; he does all the French polishing of the wooden furniture; whatever is donated to this store virtually comes out brand new after Stephen’s done with it.”

Finders Keepers 17 is located at Shop 1, 287 Ocean View Rd, Ettalong and is open to all kinds of donations and support.

Hayley McMahon