Christmas doesn’t just come early at Costco. Liz Fincham and Jeff Knadle have all sorts of specialty Christmas cards for the family already on sale at Magpies Antiques and Gifts. (Photo by Don Bodger)

United Church benefits from goodwill of Magpies business owners

Considerable donation of items made after move from former Willow Street shop

Decisions, decisions. Jeff Knadle and Liz Fincham have been faced with plenty of them in the last couple of years pertaining to their business and personal life.

But the best decision the owners of Magpies Antiques and Gifts made, they agreed, was to donate considerable remaining stock to the Chemainus United Church after moving the business from a Willow Street store to the nearby Chemainus Public Market.

The church was certainly grateful for the contribution beyond belief that amounted to tens of thousands of dollars in items that can be turned into cash at future garage sales and various other means to be utilized for charities.

“This donation will assist the church to continue supporting those in need within and beyond our community,” noted Helen Stephen. “Since our annual garage sale is now complicated by COVID restrictions, look for my posts on Chemainus Swap & Shop as I continue to list items on the church’s behalf.”

The surplus stock donated to the church was a gesture the community-minded couple was happy to make.

Magpies has four stalls at the Market, but probably only one-third of its previous retail space and actually thought of selling the business first and foremost.

“We were talking of retiring really just before COVID,” said Fincham. “We put out there on Facebook if anybody was interested and we did have some interest.

“Then the COVID hit and nobody was interested. We just kept growing, getting bigger and bigger, and I wanted to pare down.”

After closing from mid-April into mid-July due to COVID, they returned but kept reevaluating their situation.

“It was a lot and ‘are we ever going to sell this and what are we going to do?’” Fincham pondered. “We came over here (the Market) and we really liked it.

“Then we just decided we should get smaller, downsize a bit.

“We’ve worked really hard on it. We’ve got a great local clientele.”

“Not so much with COVID, we have international customers that come in,” Knadle added.

Knadle is particularly well-known in the antiques trade in Chemainus after his previous long tenure at the Willow Street Antique Mall before the Magpies location on Willow Street for six years and now the Market.

When it came time to downsize for the move to the Market, what to do with their considerable stock became a dilemma when the thought of donating entered their minds.

“I looked at Jeff and he said ‘should we donate it?’ Let’s do it. We felt good about it.

“We could have sold it. (Donating) just felt like the right thing to do.”

“It was just a weight off the shoulders,” reasoned Knadle.

Making the church the beneficiary was a logical step.

“They work so hard from that church,” observed Knadle. “It’s run on donations and they do so much for the community.”

“The thought it’s going to help people is the main thing,” said Fincham. “It’s always easier to give stuff away than throw it away.”

She praised Helen and Jamie Stephen for their efforts. “They literally donate all their time to that church.”

Ironically, both the church and Magpies have been subjected to the downside of volunteering or being in business following break-ins and thefts. Magpies had more than $30,000 in jewelry stolen in March of last year.

Related: Thieves smash their way into Magpies Antiques in Chemainus, steal $30K in jewelry

“You can’t be angry,” reasoned Fincham. “You have to keep moving forward.”

“You go from getting broken into and let’s throw some COVID on it as well,” noted Knadle.

But they are moving forward, delaying that retirement for now and “we’re very happy here,” said Fincham. “The other vendors are all wonderful people. Being in the Market, we’ve got a much more diversified audience here.”

“Our problem is we keep coming up with good ideas,” laughed Knadle.

Next year or the year after, they’ll look at selling again and may keep one and sell three of the vendor spaces. Every possibility is on the table.

Magpies is known for its interesting inventory of antiques, cards, British food treats and gift ideas. And, yes, its selection of Christmas cards is even extensive for those wanting something a little different for the family.


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The relocation of Magpies Antiques and Gifts to the Chemainus Public Market has worked out well for Liz Fincham and Jeff Knadle. (Photo by Don Bodger)

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