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After several months of gathering stock and organising staff, Oamaru’s St John Community Shop opened to the public last week.

A steady stream of customers flowed through the shop’s doors as they opened at 10am last Wednesday, most picking up a bargain or two from the shop’s range of clothing, furniture, books, dinnerware and various other items.

St John Oamaru area committee chairman Terry Kent was delighted the shop, on the corner of lower Thames and Steward Sts in the former Dick Smith building, had finally opened.

“We’re excited and we think people feel that too because it’s taken a while to get it set up,” he said.

“We are more than happy with the result. We have a shop, one you could consider up at retail level.”

He said it was not only a shop, but a place for St John to connect with the community.

“It’s more than just a shop. It’s a connection point between the community and St John .. if people want to come in and talk about services, book first aid courses or find out more information, it can be done at the community shop.”

First aid kits can also be purchased at the shop.

A store manager was recently appointed and started this week.

Dunedin St John Community Shop manager Heather Hannagan oversaw the opening and was impressed with what was on offer.

“I think it’s going to be great. It’s vibrant and there’s some good space. They’ve got a good group of volunteers along with a good committee.

“I think having a St John shop everywhere in New Zealand would be a good thing, because the ambulance service is quite strapped for cash.”

She said the shop had about 15 volunteers at present but believed at least another 20 were needed to run the shop efficiently.

All money raised at the shop will be put back into providing services in North Otago.