An Abergele couple who lost almost everything after a house fire are getting back on their feet – with the help of a pop up furniture shop.
Michelle Nolan and her partner Darren Healey, from Ffordd y Morfa, were left in dire straits after all their belongings suffered smoke and water damage as a result of a blaze in the house next door.
The couple were among the customers at the temporary shop at the Chester Avenue Community House in Kinmel Bay.
The day was organised by housing association Cartrefi Conwy who manage the Chester Avenue estate and the social enterprise, Crest Cooperative Ltd, based in Llandudno Junction.
Michelle Nolan, 42, a Cartrefi Conwy tenant who works in a betting office, was left heartbroken after the fire door caused so much damage to their home too.
She said: “We were left with next to nothing. We are both on pretty low incomes and had cancelled our insurance policy which was a stupid thing to do. It meant when we lost everything we weren’t insured.
“But Cartrefi Conwy and Crest have been fantastic, unbelievable really. Straight away they helped out with a fridge, freezer and a single bed for our 14-year-old daughter. We also have a 19 and a 20 year old still living at home.
“By using Crest shops and visiting these pop-up shops we have been able to buy furniture and other goods at really low prices and that has meant we haven’t had to go into debt.”
She added: “And being a Cartrefi Conwy tenant and having a card means we get a further 15 per cent discount off what is an already incredibly cheap price. It’s been a God-send to us and helped us get back on our feet.”
Partner Daren Healey, 47, a postman, said: “It’s been brilliant and we came along today to Kimnel Bay to see what was on offer at the pop-up shop.
“We have managed to buy a double mattress for an amazingly cheap price, especially with our 15 per cent Cartrefi Conwy additional discount.
“Crest will also deliver it for us at no extra charge. I’m not sure what we would have done without them and Cartrefi. They couldn’t have been more helpful.”
Elaine Fox, a volunteer with Community House Action Group in Chester Avenue, who also works as a Cartrefi Conwy Independent Living Co-ordinator, says it’s the second pop-up shop Crest and Cartrefi Conwy have held at the Community House.
She said: “We had the first one before Christmas and it was a big success. It’s brilliant Crest and Cartrefi Conwy are working in partnership because it’s tenants that are the winners in the end.
“I have bought a vacuum cleaner today and, as I’m a Cartrefi Conwy tenant, I have saved a further 15 per cent which is brilliant.”
Fellow volunteer Jo O’Keeffe added: “It’s all about helping tenants that are in need of affordable furniture without going into debt.
“It’s a wonderful scheme and really well supported by tenants. The new and reclaimed furniture is really good quality and definitely worth the incredibly cheap prices.”
Chester Avenue tenant Menna Thomas, 87, dropped into the pop-up shop and bought a glass computer table for just £10 after her 15 per cent discount.
She said: “I come to Chester Avenue Community House for computer lessons. I’ve now got a little lap-top which I use at home so thought I’d like to get a computer table to put it on.
“The pop-up shops are a great idea and it means tenants can buy good furniture at reasonable prices, prices that are affordable.”
Another tenant Linda Woodbridge, 45, agrees the pop-up shops are a wonderful idea.
She said: “For people on benefits, like me, they are amazingly helpful. It would be easy to get tempted to take out loans you end up struggling to pay back or you end up in further debt.
“I have four children and a grandchild living with me and my husband is on disability benefits. We just couldn’t afford to go to High Street furniture shops. It’s as simple as that.”
According to Crest Co-operative Area Manager Dan Evans, says the company is a not-for-profit social enterprise and the idea is to prevent good furniture and other goods ending up in landfill and instead reusing things to help communities.
He said: “We work closely with Cartrefi Conwy and while we have shops at Llandudno, Llandudno Junction and Colwyn Bay we are aware some Kimnel Bay tenants struggle to visit them.
“So, through our partnership with Cartrefi Conwy, we identified a need to bring the shop to the tenants. That’s why we have come along to Chester Avenue Community House for a second time.
“And we plan further pop-up shop in the future. We listen to what tenants want so we bring along the right goods. Our aim is to offer cheap prices and therefore help tenants from going into debt.”
He added: “We work very closely with Cartrefi Conwy and that’s why we are able to offer a discount of 15% to all tenants. And we also offer a payment plan, which doesn’t involve any credit checks, so tenants can pay, interest free, over a period of four to eight weeks.
“Once the full amount is paid we will deliver the goods free of charge to their homes. It’s a programme designed to help tenants and prevent them from taking on unnecessary debt.”
Crest worker, Colin Phillipson, 36 of Glan Conwy went along to the pop-up shop in his own time as he says he wanted to support Crest and Cartrefi Conwy as he believes the pop-up furniture shop deserves support.
He said: “I joined Crest on a work placement. I will work 30 hours a week over six months and will get help with things like CV’s and interview skills so I can find a full-time job.
“I came along to help at the pop-up shop in my own time because I think it is really worthwhile and a great scheme that will help tenants and stop them getting into debt.”