‘It’s good to help people out’


DIANE CROCKER WEST COAST REPORTER diane.crocker @saltwire.com @Ws_dianecrocker



SaltWire Network



CORNER BROOK — Michelle Payne knew from the day she bought Fox’s General Store in Corner Brook that she wanted her business to be one that supported the community. Her desire to help comes from the hard times her family experienced. “I grew up knowing what it was like to be hungry, knowing what it was like to be cold, knowing what it was like to have nothing Christmas morning," said Payne. "So, I’ve always been aware." Over the last 14 years she’s never wavered when it comes to doing something to help. “When I’m aware of a need, and I usually see it firsthand in the store, I’ll see something or hear a story, I feel like I need to do something,” Payne told Saltwire recently. Five years ago, Payne saw something happening in her own family that made her think of others and that has resulted in the Curling Street store holding an annual winter clothing drive. Her grandson was outgrowing his clothes. “So quickly that it wasn’t used and it’s expensive to buy new stuff,” she said. Payne first thought of setting something up so that people could trade up. “Just bring last year’s stuff and try to find something for this year that fits,” she said. However, she knew there was more going on for many people than just their kids outgrowing their clothing. The cost of new and sometimes used items was too much for them. She also saw people from other countries moving to Corner Brook who have never experience our winters. “They have no idea. They think they’re fine until it hits, and they realize they are not," said Payne. "So, I just thought let’s do it all and I did.” She set up a rack in a corner of the store and started accepting donations of coats, jackets, snow pants, snowsuits, hats, mitts and boots from the community and offering what was collected to whoever needed it for free. Last year about 2,500 items came in and went out of the building. This year’s clothing drive started on Nov. 1 and with two weeks left to go already over 3,000 items have come in and been picked up by people in need. “We can’t keep it here it all. It comes and it goes pretty quick,” Payne said adding the response to requests for donations has been wonderful. Tamara Wells has picked up something from the clothing drive before and when she saw it advertised on Facebook decided to stop in to look for a winter jacket for her partner. Wells said it’s hard to find something at this time of the year with Christmas coming up and she had no luck when she checked at the Salvation Army Thrift Store. She had high praise for Fox’s and other businesses who do things to help the community. “I absolutely love it. God love them. There should be more people in the world like it,” said Wells. Philip Beales, an employee at the store, loves to see the things Payne does for the community. “It’s good to help people out,” he said. Payne is a bit humble when it comes to taking credit for the clothing drive and considers herself just the facilitator. “Basically, how I see it is I facilitate the community sharing with one another,” she said. The clothing drive is just one of many examples of how Payne, who was recently recognized by the Greater Board of Trade with a Business Excellence Award for 2023 for Community Investment, supports and helps the community. A recent initiative of hers is to preserve the history of the Curling area by setting up a history wall at the store to share pictures and stories. Payne said a lot of people, especially the younger ones, don’t know a lot about the area and she wants to change that.