Fitting out a community, one piece of furniture at a time

Clare Lions Furniture Shed

The Clare Lions furniture shed has reopened after the festive season break.

The shed, located at 2 Harriett Street next to Ray White Real Estate, will celebrate its third anniversary in June and its success continues to go from strength to strength.

In that time, the shed has donated more than $55,000 from furniture sales to the local community, including Clare, Blyth, Burra, Auburn and Watervale.

Projects such as Operation Flinders, the Wool, Wine and Wheat Country Education Foundation have all benefited from the shed’s proceeds. Plus the Clare Hospital has received a diabetes testing machine plus a number of comfortable chairs.

The shed’s history goes back to 2017 when the local Thrift Shop stopped accepting any form of furniture because their staff and volunteers no longer wished to handle heavy and large pieces of furniture and they no longer had the space to store these large items.

“Almost immediately, there was an increase in the amount of unwanted secondhand furniture being disposed of at the local Council Waste Transfer Station,” shed manager Dave Simpson said.

“Besides being a waste of a lot of still very usable furniture, it led to increased volumes going to land fill, which increased costs for Council and by default to ratepayers.”

The idea of starting up a secondhand furniture shop then developed within the Lions Club of Clare District.

After researching other secondhand ventures by other groups it was decided to give it a go.

With the great support of a local family, the club gained access to a large warehouse and office just off the main street, with no lease payment for the first six months.

“This was enough time to see if would be a success or not,” assistant shed manager Chris Ballantyne said.

Through the use of members’ own utes and a trailer (purchased from grants), for collections and deliveries, the operation took off.

And took off it did.  Opened officially by the local state and federal politicians in July 2019, and with great coverage in the Plains Producer, the Lions Furniture Shed soon became the place to take unwanted quality furniture and white goods.

“All items are sold at very reasonable prices, ensuring a speedy turnover,” Dave Simpson said.

Items have also been donated to the needy through local community care groups such as Uniting Country SA.

“Sometimes this was just one or two items, but on a number of occasions it has been for a whole house (lounge, dining, beds, fridge, etc.) for families (mostly single mums with children needing emergency accommodation),” Lions Club president Allan Mayfield said.

In mid-2020, the store was closed for several months due to COVID19 but during this time some collections still happened and emergency donations were made.

The property owner supported the club and rent was stopped for the duration of the pandemic shutdown.  The reopening was well received, and healthy sales have continued.  So much so, that the club recently bought a quality second hand 4×4 ute, thus removing the need for members to use their own vehicles.

The Furniture Shed is now a big revenue raiser for the club, but it is more than that.

“We have helped many through our donations of furniture,” Allan Mayfield said.

“We have especially helped those unable to buy new furniture, such as those starting out on their first home.

“We have helped all local ratepayers by reducing land fill costs to the Council, as well as helping our environment.”

The Furniture Shed is open on Fridays and Saturday mornings, and for some in our community it has become a drop-in centre for both Lions and non-Lions.

“In the store we also sell Lions cakes and have our glasses for recycling collection bin.  It is our Lion’s Den,” Dave Simpson added.

Then there are the more subtle positive outcomes.

The shed has become an option for volunteers who are unemployed or as alternative to being at school.

In most cases through working with a great mob of Lions and other volunteers this has helped them develop skills and self-confidence to then go on to paid employment.

In summary, this project can be considered successful for many reasons, including:

  • Raising significant funds for Lions and community projects
  • Improving the relationship and recognition of the Lions Club with the Local Council and community members in general
  • Positive environmental outcomes by reducing waste and landfill
  • Reducing Council costs and therefore helping to control rate increases to taxpayers
  • Aiding the needy in times of stress
  • Helping the people meet their new housing needs with low-cost quality furniture
  • Working with youth

Article by Doug Booth and Rob Royal

Feature photo: (left to right) Allan Mayfield, Chris Ballantyne and David Simpson