Thrift Shoppe Fire – UPDATED Clothing Drop Off Locations and Times

Thank you for all your support as we rebuild from the devastating  Thrift Shoppe fire. Your support will  help us to continue to provide clothing and care for people living in poverty.

NOTE:  all drop-off locations will be closed on Tuesday, July 1st due to the Canada Day holiday and all locations are closed on Sundays.

Bissell drop off locations  (Big Steel Box)  can be found at:Bissell Centre East Building:  10527 – 96 Street (South Side of Building) 10am-5pm Monday – Saturday Bissell Centre Southside Location:  5120 – 122 street  9am-4pm Monday – Saturday

Those wishing to make a financial contribution to the Bissell Centre may do so by visiting our donation page.

If you would like to coordinate a clothing drive in your community or at your work, please  click here  to download a poster that you can use.

For further information please contact:

Devin Komarniski, Acting Manager Marketing & Communications 780.423.2285, Ext 131 [email protected]

Bissell Centre Ramps up Recovery Plan after Thrift Shoppe Fire

Five days after a second devastating fire ripped through the Bissell Centre temporary Thrift Shoppe a recovery plan developed by Bissell Centre staff has been swiftly set in motion.  Sea-Can storage containers were dropped off at Bissell Centre headquarters Monday and Bissell Thrift Shoppe staff are motivated and eager to accept donations.

Community agencies, businesses, organizations and radio stations have been quick to lend a hand, offering to accept and store donations until suitable storage was organized in anticipation of the permanent store reopening in September.

Those wishing to make a financial contribution to the Bissell Centre may do so by visiting our donations page.

If you would like to coordinate a clothing drive in your community or at your work, please click here to download a poster that you can use.

Bissell drop off locations (Big Steel Box) can be found at:Bissell Centre East Building:  10527 – 96 Street (South Side of Building) 10am-5pm Monday – Saturday Northlands (Rexall Place):  119 Ave & Wayne Gretzky Drive SB 10am-5pm Monday – Saturday

Community drop off locations:95.7 CRUZ FM: 5241 Calgary Tr., Suite 700 Up 99.3 FM: 9894 – 42nd Ave

NOTE: All drop-off locations will be closed on Tuesday, July 1st due to the Canada Day holiday

For further information please contact:

Devin Komarniski, Acting Manager Marketing & Communications 780.423.2285, Ext 131 [email protected]

Thrift Shoppe Fire UPDATE – Now Receiving Clothing Donations

For the second time in nine months, the Bissell Centre Thrift Shoppe has been leveled by fire destroying over 100,000 pieces of clothing and household goods destined for homeless and less fortunate Edmontonians.

Thirteen staff members employed at the temporary Thrift Shoppe have been offered professional crisis counselling to alleviate the stress of yet another fire.

“Today key staff gathered together to strategize and draft an emergency response plan to continue supporting our affected employees and the 5,000-6,000 clients affected by the fire,” said Bissell Centre CEO Mark Holmgren.

An interim storage, a Sea-Can unit has been situated south of the Bissell Centre East Building located at 10527-96 Street.   Staff and volunteers will be on hand to accept donations daily 10:00am – 5:00pm beginning Tuesday, June 24th (with the exception of Sunday). We are in urgent need of clothing for all seasons, ages, and gender.

Financial donations to further support the Bissell Centre can be made direct by accessing our donations form.

The Bissell Centre is fortunate to be supported by such a caring Edmonton Community and we wish to thank each and every person and organization for the countless thoughts, calls, emails and positive wishes during this difficult time.

For further information please contact:

Devin Komarniski, Acting Manager of Marketing & Communications 780.423.2285, Ext 131 [email protected]

Temporary Thrift Shoppe Fire – Update # 2

CEO UPDATEPlease hold off a bit before bringing us donations of clothing. As usual the incredible Edmonton community is wanting to know how to help us. All of you are amazing and I can tell you, knowing you are with us makes a huge difference! Please just hang tough for another day or two while we develop and begin implementing our recovery plan. We should have an update on that later Monday and more throughout the week. In the meantime please do not bring clothing donations to us downtown or even at our South Side location. We will let you know where you can do that as soon as possible.

Recovery Planning has Started I have already drafted a plan but of course will seek  the advice and wisdom of my staff to finish it off Monday morning. Another  staff member  is spending today connecting with the dozen or so media requests. Other staff are linking with insurance contacts and I have assigned out some work to other staff as well. We are on it and doing the best we can as fast as we can.

Our First Concern: People As is the case with everything we do, our first concern is about people. Recently our Thrift Shoppe won a Bissell Centre Award for Program Excellence. Most of them were involved in our recovery from the last fire and they did amazing work to get us back up and running. I know they are devastated and I will be working with our HR Director and the Store Manager to connect with them and do what we can to help them through this.

Our concerns for those folks who rely on the Thrift Shoppe are front and centre on my mind as well. Those concerns will be addressed in our planning of next steps.

Other Questions There are a lot of questions coming at us. I will attempt to answer some of them here.

Q: Isn’t this the third fire at the Thrift Shoppe? A: No, Our permanent location on 118th Avenue was shutdown by a fire in September 2013. This is the second fire, which took place at our temporary location.

Q: Do you think the two fires are connected somehow or that this latest one was deliberately set? A: I have no reason to see a connection between the two fires. The cause of the latest fire is not known at this time. We are assisting fire investigators with their investigation and they will share with us their findings. I was told we should know by Wednesday at the latest. Any current reasons being shared or speculated about via social media are just that: speculation. For your information the cause of the first fire was not determined, although arson was ruled out.

Q: Will you be opening another temporary store? A: We will be discussing this tomorrow. However, it took two months to locate and restock the temporary store. Our permanent store is scheduled to be open in September. We will be working to attempt to solidify that deadline. If it holds, at this writing, I imagine we will not open another temp location but rather gear up to get into our permanent location instead. This is not the final word, but I am sharing with all of you my current thinking.

Q: How many people rely on the Thrift Shoppe? A: Approximately 5,000 to 6,000 each month.

Q: How much income  will be lost because of the fire? A: At this writing, it is too soon to know. I can tell you that our permanent location funded itself and our free clothing services and also generated some funds  to invest in other social programs at Bissell Centre. We opened the temporary store to ensure people on low incomes could still access low cost items. We did this even though we knew we would likely operate at a small loss until we could re-open permanently. We have been supplementing the temporary store with general donations.

Q: Does Bissell Centre own the facility that burnt down? A: No, we rented the space from our friends at Native Friendship Centre. They had plans to renovate it and move programming into it in the fall. This fire is devastating to them as well; please think of them as they set out to also recover from this disaster.

Q: What is going to happen to the 13 staff employed at the Thrift Shoppe A: A major component of our recovery plan is to look at how to avoid or minimize layoffs. We will assign some staff to recovery efforts, and I have already asked staff to consider how we might reassign staff to other Bissell Centre work. I will know more this week and share it with the public when I do.

Q: Will the fire threaten Bissell Centre’s financial condition and health? A: The fire will have a negative impact on our budget. To what extend is not yet known. i will be working with my lead team to assess current planned expenditures to see how we might be able to reallocate monies, if and when required, to assist with our recovery.  That said, Bissell Centre’s financial condition is healthy. We have no debt and I am confident we have the resiliency to rebound from this, especially because of the great support we receive from our supporters and funders.

Q: Do you need financial donations to help out? A: Before the fire, we were faced with raising close to $2 million this year to supplement other programs that are not fully funded. It is likely we may have to raise that goal, but again, it is too soon for me to speak of this with any certainty at this point. That said, if you are able to contribute financially, please visit our donation page.  Please tell us if your donation is to help out with the fire.


Monday night I will be meeting with Bissell Centre’s Board of Governors and will brief them on our plans and seek their counsel as well.

Also please see the previous update on the fire posted yesterday.

Thank you.

Mark Holmgren, CEO

Temporary Thrift Shoppe Destroyed by Fire


Our temporary Thrift Shoppe location at 11817 80 Street,  has been destroyed by fire. The fire broke out as staff were closing up for the day. Thankfully, customers had already left, and our staff were able to flee the building without any injury. All of the contents were destroyed. We are devastated to experience such a disaster after our permanent store location experienced a terrible fire in September 2013.

A number of our staff have assisted the fire investigation team. I have been told by the Fire Investigation Team that  it may be Wednesday until there will be an official report on the cause. As soon as we know, we will share it with you.

Not only does the fire impact those who shop there for low cost clothing and household items, it impacts the 13 staff who depend on the store for their livelihood; these are the staff who worked so hard and long to reopen after the September fire. This is also terrible news for our friends at the  Native Friendship Centre  who were kind enough to let us rent the building.

Bissell Centre staff will be meeting to develop a plan to address what has happened. Discussions have begun already and on Monday I will be meeting with key staff from around our organization to identify the many next steps we will need to take to get past this and move forward.

I am appreciative of the thousands of  followers we have on social media who are sending their well wishes and their clear commitment to help us. We will let you know how you can help in a couple days.In the mean time, you can get some information at  

Thanks as well to the many media representatives who want to cover this and help mobilize a response. I ask everyone for patience as we regroup and do our best to quickly set a course of action. It is my intention to be able to address the media sometime Monday afternoon. Media inquiries should go to Devin Komarniski (Phone: 780.423.2285 ext. 131 E-mail:  [email protected]).

Some are wondering how the fire might have impacted our Underwear Drive (#DropYourGonch)  done in partnership with Mayfield Toyota. I understand all that  was collected in that drive is safe.

Many thanks to all of the 50 fire fighters who responded so quickly and worked so diligently to put out the fire and to the other emergency responders who helped out. Edmonton is blessed to have people like you.

I would be dishonest if I didn’t say this is heartbreaking. However, I have no doubt about the resiliency of my staff and the caring support of the Edmonton Community.

For those customers of the Thrift Shoppe, I am so sorry the store is out of commission. I am sure our friends who operate other Thrift Shoppes will help you until we are back up and running — Goodwill, the Salvation Army, among others.

Mark Holmgren, CEO

#DropYourGonch…to support the homeless in Edmonton!

Bissell Centre and Mayfield Toyota hosts #DropYourGonch, a one-day underwear drive event urging the public to donate new underwear for the homeless in Edmonton. Free food will be provided by Century Hospitality and there will also be entertainment and door prizes.

The goal of the event is to collect 1,000 pairs of new underwear in support of Bissell Centre to provide comfort for people in need!

Underwear is one of the most asked for clothing items by those who are homeless, but one of the least donated. By reaching our goal of 1,000 pairs of new underwear it would allow us to provide approximately 20 fresh pairs to people in need every day throughout the summer.

A gift of new undies would mean so much and we’d love it if you’d join us!

#DropYourGonch Event Details:

When: Saturday, June 21st

Where: Mayfield Toyota (10220-170 street)

Time: 10:00am – 3:00pm

For more information about the event, please click here or contact Devin Komarniski, Acting Manager of Marketing & Communications, at  [email protected].

Joe gets a very good job

Hard as things got for Joe* he never gave up. Bissell Centre never gave up on him either. Look at what happened!
Employed for many years in the hospitality industry, Joe faced some serious health problems. He couldn’t sustain full time work so Bissell Centre helped with casual labour placements when Joe needed some work. Joe’s health problems were so serious they required six operations to address. Demoralized and losing hope, he was encouraged by social workers to apply for AISH (Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped).


Through his ongoing relationship with Employment Services, Joe felt he had” someone in his corner” and never completely gave up. Our Jobs First coordinator got to work with Joe and together they took actions to increase Joe’s skill development, self-awareness, confidence, and his competencies.

Last week Joe completed his second interview with a major Canadian coffee company and was hired as the Regional Manager for Quality Control. Joe’s new position will start in mid-August and his starting wage is $60,000 plus a generous benefits package.

Joe told us he now wants to speak at our pre-employment sessions about his positive experience in our Employment Services program but more importantly to act as a testimony to never giving up.

Our mission is to work with others to move people from poverty to prosperity. When you support Bissell Centre, this one example of how you help change lives.

Please consider supporting Bissell Centre’s life-changing work in our community.

Click Here to Donate.

* Not his real name

Donate-A-Car to Bissell Centre!

Bissell Centre is excited to be a charity of choice for  people who donate their used  vehicles to  Donate-A-Car Canada  with the proceeds from the sale of the vehicles supporting our work in eliminating poverty in our community!

Donate-A-Car Canada makes it easy for anyone to donate a used or unwanted vehicle and have the proceeds directed to Bissell Centre. Donate-A-Car Canada arranges the pick-up, removal, and sale of cars at no cost or hassle to the donor.

The donor receives a tax receipt for the value of the sale or recycling of the car, minus a small percentage (10%-12%) for Donate-A-Car Canada’s operations.

We are happy to announce that Bissell Centre has received its second car donation  through Donate-A-Car Canada in just over one month!

For more information about how you can donate  your used or unwanted vehicle to support Bissell Centre, please visit

Bissell Centre’s spring newsletter is here!

In this issue:

  • Moonlight Bay Centre – planning your retreat!
  • Message from Mark Holmgren, CEO
  • From Casual Labourer to Successful Business Owner
  • A New Beginning: a family moving out of  poverty
  • Monthly Giving Opportunity!
  • Donor Spotlight: EPCOR
  • …and much more!

Click here to view  or download it now!

Reg Canadian Charity · 118810829RR0001