Downtown Eastside entrepreneur Mark Brand is rolling out a new program he hopes will help keep the neighbourhood warm this season.
The Save on Meats proprietor is well known for his existing charity meal token program. For $2.25, that initiative allows people to buy a plastic token which can be cashed in for a meal at the restaurant.
Now, Brand and partners are launching a spinoff aimed at getting clothing to DTES residents in need.
Under the new program, donors spend $5 to get a clothing token, which can be traded in for a pound of clothing at The Rag Machine, a second hand store that deals in bulk.
Watch: Brand is well known for his existing meal token program
Charity with style
Brand says the idea came from a conversation with the shops’ owners, who also run the popular vintage boutique F as in Frank.
“What if you could… instead of you donating your old stained whatever clothes, and the sleeves are too short, and it’s not very dignified… what if they could come shopping at your store?”
Brand says the shop is well stocked, with both second hand clothing and new-dead stock, so people cashing in tokens aren’t just limited to others’ castoffs.
“Everything. Jeans, jackets, name it. Everything that you would find at a second hand store. And everything is AAA grade. It’s not been picked through, there’s no stains, there’s not scent of mothball.”
But he says the aspect he likes the most most about the program is that it gives the recipients choice.
“You get to go decide your own style, and we know people in my neighbourhood are very colourful and stylish, so to allow them to go get what they want is pretty rad.”
Both clothing and food tokens can be purchased online, or in person at Save On Meats on West Hastings.