We Get It, a magical hub of fun and discovery

 In Business

Despite the recent announcement of inflation dropping, daily costs remain high and continue to put enormous pressure on individuals and families across Ontario.

We Get It, based in Stayner, truly gets it.

Owned and operated by “one of the nicest, most generous, people in our community,” according to a neighboring retailer, Mark Bint has created a concept, in fact a movement, that focuses less on profits and more on fundamentally helping people in need.

Here’s a story that captures Bint’s revolutionary small business: Earlier this month, a homeless Clearview resident was finally able to secure himself an apartment. Without any means to furnish this space, he went to We Get it, where he had been buying camping equipment for shelter. There, he was able to furnish his new space with lamps, coffee table, sheets, quilts, pillows and decorativeknick knacks that make a house a home. He bought cookware to prepare himself his first meal in years. He bought 50 items in total, thanks to another local resident who donated $50 to Bint’s store, along with a number of goods from their home that they were no longer using. How does that work? “It’s simple,” says Bint. “In my store, everything is one dollar.”

A television? A dollar. Kettle? A buck. New shoes? 100 cents. A mirror? You guessed it: a Loonie. And the concept is making a difference to hundreds of people in the community.

“There was a point in my life where I was struggling financially,” said Bint. “I used to search all over, shopping in various low-cost retail chains and thrift shops. But even in these stores, it was sometimes hard to find what I needed, and more importantly, what I could afford at that time. It was simply too expensive.”

Tired of buying even simple things for too much, Bint decided to open We Get It and change the system in a dramatic way.

“I wanted to significantly shift the way second-hand goods were delivered,” said Bint. “For someone who is really struggling to eat every day, even a $9 T-shirt from a thrift store can be simply too much. People need a place where they can get what they need, at a price they can truly afford.”

His business model is actually super simple and goes beyond just helping those in need. We Get It takes donations of new and used items – from churches, fundraisers, community garage sales and residents – limiting what goes into landfill. Once collected, he sells everything for one dollar. He has made this model work, but more importantly to him, he has made a meaningful and human contribution.

“I have created a store that places equal value across the board and that is fair for everybody,” he said. “ People donate to me and shop here. It’s a safe space; a magical hub of fun and discovery. I gauge my day on how many people I can help, not on how much money I can make.”

Bint launched his business eight years ago with the help of a friend who provided him with the financial support to buy the original 500 square foot dollar store in the Sunny Mart in Stayner. Shortly thereafter, as promised, he reimbursed his friend in full and, with this dollar-per-item concept, had enough money to buy the stock of the old Stayner dollar store, doubling the size and rent.

“Lock down during Covid was tough. Because I was non-essential I couldn’t let anyone in,” he said. “That was hard on me financially, but also difficult for my customers. Thankfully, we recovered, and since 2020 we’ve sold over 180,000 items for one dollar each.”

We Get It collects and sells virtually everything: Items include lamps, clothing, housewares, tools, toys, sporting goods, camping gear, televisions, microwaves, antiques collectibles, kitchenware, furniture. Bint has a small section for consignment as well, for specific or unique items.

As Bint proudly states, “One hundred dollars won’t get you much these days, but here? You’d have to bring a truck.”

Nothing gives him more joy than the comment he gets so often: “this isn’t really a dollar is it?” It is.

His customers are wide ranging, of all circumstances and of all ages. He has set up a series of programs to widen and help his shoppers – buy-back programs, programs for kids, an automatic $20 credit for anyone who can’t pay, and no tax on items for those shoppers over the age of 65. And he has plans to grow and expand his concept across Ontario with a system of stocked sheds, in partnership with individuals who are aligned with his approach and value system.

“I’ve had ups and downs, good months and bad but I have always managed. I truly believe that what goes around, comes around and it’s at the heart of what I am doing. Well that, and making people smile”

We Get It is located at 7252 Highway 26 in Stayner. Cash or e-transfer only. Taxes, of course, not included!

Janet Logan is a Creemore resident with a background in business development and entrepreneurship. Amazed by flourishing new businesses across Clearview, her articles aim to feature these entrepreneurs and share their stories with the community.

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