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Something unique

Centre Flavieā€™s Boutique Unique captures imagination

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St. Boniface

A new fundraising initiative at Centre Flavie is already becoming a bit of a local treasure.

The St. Boniface-based non-profit organization, formerly known as Centre Flavie-Laurent, provides essential household goods and supplies to many families on a daily basis in an organized, dignified environment.

When organizers opened the doors of Flavie’s current location at 301 Archibald St. to its clients on Sept. 1, 2022, they were exploring a new idea called Boutique Unique, which is now up and running and continues to gain momentum.

Photo by Simon Fuller

Julie Turenne-Maynard, Centre Flavie’s board chair, is pictured with a Campbell’s soup-themed thermos flask at the organization’s Boutique Unique on Jan. 11.

Certain items donated to the centre don’t necessarily fall into the household goods and supplies category. They are separated from general circulation and sold at a monthly online auction, which started last October. These can be antiques and collectibles, as well as retro and vintage items. All profits from the auctions are used to support Flavie’s work.

A quick survey of Boutique Unique’s eclectic inventory on Jan. 11, for example, included a pair of clogs from the Netherlands, some clocks, lots of books, a telescope, sewing machines, collectible toy cars, Pyrex dishes and bowls, a Walkman, a bow and arrow, and a chain-mail headpiece — or coif — that wouldn’t look out of place in King’s Arthur’s Camelot.

“We’ve also seen lots of Hudson Bay blankets,” said Julie Turenne-Maynard, Centre Flavie’s board chair, noting the boutique is becoming a treasure trove for anyone with a soft spot for items with an interesting story to tell.

“We also get lots of china. It’s interesting that what some people think is junk, others will pay an arm-and-a-leg for. For example, we recently had an antique cuff link holder come into the boutique. Lots of collectors will jump on these things.”

The centre has partnered with the Winnipeg-based Annabella Auction House, which runs the online auctions for the centre. Turenne-Maynard said the collaboration with the auction house is a serendipitous one, which she’s thankful for.

“They’ve been coming to the centre for years and purchasing items for auctions. When they found out we were starting a new social enterprise featuring unique items, they proposed a partnership,” she said.

After an auction is over, winning bidders can come to the boutique to pick up their items, typically starting a day or two after.

Each of the three auctions have so far raised thousands of dollars for the centre, which has made a big difference to the non-profit.

Photo by Simon Fuller

Centre Flavie’s Boutique Unique specializes in antiques and collectibles, as well as retro and vintage items. The items are auctioned online once a month and the proceeds are used to support Flavie’s work.

“This makes such a difference to our bottom line. We’re in a new building and our operational costs are higher. This will help support our operations, which will help the community,” Turenne-Maynard said.

“Also — the auctions can get exciting, and you see people getting a kick out of it. Sometimes, you can find real treasures for reasonable rates,” she added, noting each auction so far has typically featured around 300 items, and items sometimes have multiple photos detailing them online.

Robert Waddell, an appraiser with Annabella Auction House, said it’s important for him to be involved with the social enterprise.

“I’ve known the organization for many years, and I’ve seen the work that they do and the community they’re serving,” Waddell said. “I’m grateful for the opportunity to do this. It’s lots of fun, and the group at Centre Flavie have become close friends. It’s like a family there.”

The next Boutique Unique auction will be held on Feb. 5. Go online at centreflavie.com for more information.

Simon Fuller

Simon Fuller
Community Journalist

Simon Fuller is a reporter/photographer for the Free Press Community Review. Email him at simon.fuller@canstarnews.com or call him at 204-697-7111.

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