IT WAS the end of an era last week as a much loved Peterhead charity shop closed its doors for the last time.
Volunteers at Merchant Street’s Thrifty Nifty bid farewell last Monday, after almost a century of combined service.
Set up in the 1960s by the Royal Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children’s (RSPCC) ‘Cruelty Officer,’ Thrifty Nifty provided clothes free of charge for children living in poverty.
From its original premises at the town’s Uphill Lane, a changing group of volunteers went on to sell everything from clothing and blankets to electricals and bric a brac, and donated the proceeds to the former RSPCC (now known as Children 1st.)
Through the selling of unwanted goods at very reasonable prices, the volunteers of Thrifty Nifty have enriched the lives of generations of town folk, moving around the town to different rent free premises from Uphill Lane on to Constitution Street and to North Street and Longate before settling at the corner of Merchant and St Andrew streets more than 20 years ago.
Betty Mennie has many memories of her 40 years of service - from a fire gutting the shop at North Street more than 30 years ago to the influx of TV set donations after the digital switch over in 2010! She said: “We used to have ladies who would come in and buy a coat and change the buttons and it would look as good as new. And we always sent the proceeds away to Edinburgh to Children 1st.”
After a long association with the RSPCC and Children 1st, Betty and her volunteers decided to go it alone several years ago and become a registered charity in their own right. They took on this new challenge with vigour and set about raising funds for worthy local causes.
Over the past 20 years, Thrifty Nifty has donated some £20,000 to beneficiaries including Kirkburn Court Care Home, Grange Park Home, Wyndwell Nursing Home, Allandale House Care Home, Ugie & Community Hospital League of Friends, Peterhead OAP Club, Boy Scouts, Sea Cadets, the Fisherman’s Mission, RNLI, Anna Ritchie School and the Talking Buchanie.
Helen Mackay, who has volunteered at Thrifty Nifty for 20 years, said: “We’ve had all different people through the doors. We were the cheapest charity shop in Peterhead and folk liked to come in for a rake. We refused nothing.”
But now plans to renovate the Merchant Street property means the end of Thrifty Nifty’s charitable work. But the ladies (including Betty Forbes who couldn’t make the Buchanie’s photo shoot) will remain good friends and walk away with the fondest of memories.
Betty said: “We couldn’t have done it without the support of the community and we thank them very much for that.”