Bloomhill’s op shop customers have over the past 25 years picked up many new treasures which were someone else’s trash. They’ve been greeted by some real treasures too – our volunteers.

One such fellow is Brian Stevenson, a gentleman who in June will celebrate 15 years with Bloomhill’s Caloundra store.

Brian, 65, has been with Bloomhill almost a quarter of his life.

He would ride around on his pushbike, checking out local op shops, when the Bloomhill Op Shop manager at the time had asked whether he would volunteer.

“I ended up thinking, ‘yeah okay’, so I did start volunteering,” Brian recalled.

“Back then it was a different system. I used to help out other volunteers working with people on unemployment benefits.

“I was doing it for the love of it: pricing books, moving furniture and whatever else.

“With more hands on deck, it helps lighten the load.”

Now the only remaining male volunteer in the Caloundra shop, Brian is equal parts handyman, item-pricer and roving teammate who does everything he can to help out.

He’s at Caloundra at least twice a week, buzzing around the shop with enthusiasm because no two days are ever the same.

But it’s not all smiles and roses; managing questionable donations has raised Brian’s and his colleagues’ eyebrows over the years.

“The worst thing someone has dropped off was a fryer with grease still on it; I thought aww yuck, this is a bit much to handle,” Brian said.

Plus, the condition of some donations including scrappy books and scratched CDs has forced Brian to dump the ruined goods into a waste pile.

While handling rogue gifts is a part of the job for the 20-odd volunteers at each Bloomhill store, they often have “some seriously valuable collectables”, according to Brian.

He said when rolling up for duty, it doesn’t feel like he’s going to work.

“It’s a pleasure volunteering because I’ve been here for so long, made friends with many people and helped some find a bargain, ” Brian said.

“The staff are friendly; we don’t get too serious, try to keep it light and just do the work when it needs to be done.

“We’re all working for the common cause and it’s great to celebrate a milestone with everyone.”

And whether it’s the location, volunteers, customers or the goodies, many factors motivate Brian to keep kicking goals with Bloomhill.

“It’s just a matter of turning up and giving my end of the bargain with my responsibilities,” Brian said.

Between 75 and 80 per cent of Bloomhill’s income come from its op shops.

When Brian’s not doing his part for the Bloomhill team, he likes keeping active and heading to local beaches. He plans on a trip to Tasmania later this year.

Images: 1) Brian Stevenson at Bulcock Beach, by Nicky Moffat; 2) Brian Stevenson and Bloomhill Caloundra Op Shop Manager Leanne Painter on her 60th birthday celebration at the shop, photo contributed. 

Author: Ed McLeish Published: 24 February 2022