Words by Jairus Robb, NZCMS communications
Pocketed away on the corner of Gayhurst and McBratneys Rd in Dallington, Christchurch, a humble Op-Shop sits between the local diary and fish and chips shop. If you were to walk past without going in you would think nothing more. But if like me, you received an email from the owners and were invited to visit you would be immensely surprised to find out this newly opened shop is supporting cross-cultural missions around the globe.
Jan and Tony Rawstron opened the Window of Opportunity Op-Shop in March 2021 with the following mission statement: to be a volunteer charity, selling second-hand goods, with all profits going to overseas Christian workers, to improve the well-being of those in need.”
Despite only being open for a couple of months, this establishment is a hive of activity. As I introduce myself, Jan quickly ushers me past the rows of clothes, changing room and bookshelves and behind the front counter where a high school student on work experience is regularly ringing up customer’s items.
It seems as if I've stepped into another world that is at odds with the relatively quiet and unassuming street corner that the shop is on. I almost feel disorientated at the number of people in the wee shop and the hustle and bustle going on inside.
Jan introduces me to the four volunteers in the back who are busily sorting through the newly arrived stock generously donated by the Dallington public.
"This place has been empty since the earthquake,” Jan said. “It was a chemist shop. A guy came in one day, and I said ‘Are you ok?’ and he says ‘Oh yes I used to run the chemist shop. I was here for forty years!’”
With the help of St. Stephen’s Church, Jan and Tony et up the business and were able to get charitable status through them.
I find out that Jan and Tony attended a missions course run by two of NZCMS’ own staff members, Mike and Ruth Robb. Having completed the course they headed off with Servants Asia on a short term trip to Manilla for six weeks. But it was when a friend of Jan's went away to do missions work in Korea that Jan was inspired to find a way to support her. It was then that the idea to create an Op-Shop to raise support was born. Having volunteered in a Salvation Army, Jan had already picked up a lot of the skills needed to run Window of Opportunity.
"With my love of Op-Shops,” Jan said, “I thought they must be able to make some money because there are enough Op-Shops around! If you had an Op-Shop in a church that would be great because you wouldn't have to pay rent. You would just pay electricity.” At the moment Jan and Tony rent our current space.”
So far the business has been able to make generous donations to three Mission Partners serving through NZCMS and other organisations, with several more donations due to be given.
The response from the community has been fantastic. In just a couple months Window of Opportunity is already well known and is by no means struggling to get enough stock.
"All this has just come this morning,” Tony said, gesturing to the large collection of items that the volunteers were sorting through out in the back. “And it's good stuff! The quality is really good. We're not a dumping ground for people clearing out. It shows the Lord's got his hand on something here.”
When asked about what inspired the name of the shop and the front window display Jan replied it is a bit of a secret.
"My idea is that the green, and the red and the white are symbols of Jesus’ blood, eternal life and the white, washed clean,” she said, referring to the flags set up in the store's front window. She chuckles to herself. “It's a secret code.”
When asked if she would ever have imagined the shop being this successful and busy after only four months of being open she was quick to respond.
“No. Not really. But as I say you couldn't do it without a team. They (volunteers) are great.”
"But we've got a few years left in the shed. And we wanted to do something for the Lord. And we were thinking, if we don't do it now, time will pass by.”
For a couple who have named their new shop the "Window of Opportunity,” it's no surprise that Jan and Tony are living out that ethos themselves.
You will find the Window of Opportunity Op-Shop at 148 Gayhurst Rd, Dallington, Christchurch.
It is open Wednesday to Friday at 9:00am - 2:00pm and Saturday from 10:00am - 2:00pm.
- Open for business
- Some of the stock available
- There is all sorts here!
- Front desk ready for action
- Some of the incredible volunteers
- Jan and Tony chatting with some locals