Meg Whitton hopes ReBoutique initiative leads to eco-friendly store – MidlandToday

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Meg Whitton has a green dream.
She would eventually like to open a “bricks and mortar” store specializing in helping the environment through the sale of used clothing and refillable bulk items.
For the time being, she’s busy throughout the week preparing for a Friday afternoon popup store at Operation Grow where she sells gently used women’s clothing with part of the proceeds going to the organization.
Last summer, Whitton hosted a one-day women’s used clothing sale at Perkinsfield Park with 60% of proceeds going to the Severn Sound Environmental Association (SSEA). That event raised $1,640 for the SSEA.
“I’m a hippie; I really like the environment,” Whitton told MidlandToday. “I wanted to have an environmental fundraising event. I’m interested in minimalism and I think it’s an issue in the environment we don’t talk about.”
The local radio personality once worked part-time at the transfer station on Golf Link Road and "couldn’t help but see the many usable items we throw out."
That waste combined with a trend she’s noticed in people interested in living simpler lives and purposefully choosing secondhand items to counteract “fast fashion” led her to believe that “Midland needs a consignment boutique.”
Her response, for now, was to start ReBoutique ‘Summer Friday Pop Ups’ at Operation Grow to test the desire for high-end, secondhand clothing.
Designed to “give good clothes a longer life,” the ReBoutique runs from noon to 4 p.m. on Fridays throughout July and August at Operation Grow (436 Bay Street in Midland). So far, more than 30 consignors have offered up Roots, Indygena, Joseph Ribkoff, Zara and Banana Republic items.
A program of Huronia Transition Homes, Operation Grow is a social enterprise for women with lived experience of violence holistically designed to increase connection, decrease poverty, support food security and help to reduce the impact of trauma.
Adds Whitton: "It’s a hydroponic farm with a retail store selling lettuce, herbs, soups and more and includes a community kitchen, yoga studio and programming for its members."
Whitton says the Friday afternoon venture is a good testing ground to determine if there’s an appetite in the community for a permanent consignment store.
“I am trying to start a business with this,” Whitton says of the Operation Grow initiative that sees 40% of the sale price going to the person giving the clothing, 10% to Operation Grown and the rest going to a business fund she hopes will one day be used to open her store.
Whitton, who lives in Lafontaine, says those providing the clothing have told her on numerous occasions that she can donate their share of the proceeds back to Operation Grow.
As for her retail concept, Whitton says it would also offer products that can be easily purchased in bulk along the lines of similar operations sprouting up across the province that seek to reduce the use of single-use plastic consumption.
As an example, The Keep Refillery, which has operations in Meaford, Creemore and Kingston, offers waste-free personal and home-care products.
“Our low waste shop offers a wide range of locally sourced, all natural, organic, cruelty-free + plastic-free products,” the business says on its website, noting that it has now helped divert 250,000 pieces of single-use plastic from hitting landfills.
Whitton thinks something similar could eventually work in Midland.
"I would like it to be secondhand clothes and refillable items like dish soap and laundry soap," she says of her hopes to open an environmentally friendly store. "I don't even know I'm going to get there. I'm waiting to see."
For more information, email Whitton at [email protected].
About the Author: Andrew Philips
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