On Nov. 2, beloved Plateau thrift store Magasin le Chaînon opened a new location at 4461 Boulevard Saint-Laurent, closing the doors at 4375 Boulevard Saint-Laurent, where it was based for over 20 years.
The grand opening was originally set for Wednesday, Nov. 1, but was postponed to the following morning due to a technical outage. However, once the doors opened on Thursday morning, the eager crowd filled the redesigned boutique to the brim.
By 10 a.m., the store was practically buzzing. Clean, organized racks and shelving units allowed for accessible browsing of a variety of items, from fur coats to household knick-knacks.
The details of the new store, such as its generous lighting, exposed wood panelling, and coherent floor plan, make it feel like a boutique. You could almost forget that the stock is, in fact, second-hand.
Magasin le Chaînon’s original location was opened in 2000 as a major fundraising arm for Le Chaînon, a group of women’s shelters in Montreal. Le Chaînon was founded in 1932 by Yvonne Maisonneuve, who ran a small women’s shelter on Avenue Fairmount.
The organization has expanded since then to operate three shelters in Montreal for various lengths of stay, but it stays true to the original mission: To provide judgement-free support for any woman in need.
Store Director Stéphane Lamarche explained that how donations are selected and priced is central to the success and mission of Magasin le Chaînon. Lamarche wants to push against the idea that second hand stores sell items that are always dirty and in disrepair.
“We have great respect for the merchandise,” he said in an interview with The Tribune. “You go to other thrift stores and find holes and dirty merchandise all the time. Not here.”
Lamarche explained how the store’s corps of over 75 volunteers combs through public donations and adds new items daily. The first rounds of donations are given straight to the shelters, while the items left over are sold at the store.
Valérie Tondreau, Director of Marketing, was quite busy the morning of the opening, coordinating on-floor operations and even jumping in behind a register to help shorten the checkout line that stretched the length of the shop. Despite the air of cheerful chaos throughout the store, Tondreau was not at all surprised by the turnout.
“When we would open up at 10 a.m. at the old store, there would already be people lined up outside every day,” she remarked.
The store sometimes undergoes multiple restocks in one day, meaning some Magasin le Chaînon fans will visit the store two or three times a day, according to Tondreau. These fans followed the trusty Plateau thrift store as it moved a couple of hundred metres down the block to the location formerly housing luxury furniture store Dubois. Lamarche was adamant that the store’s stock, prices, and mission did not change despite its distinct facelift.
Julia Michaud, U3 Management, would visit the old location almost every day. She explained she had counted down the days until the opening, and on Thursday morning, she and a friend were browsing the knick-knacks.
“I think the space is great. I think it looks more cohesive. It’s definitely a nicer space. I kinda miss how eclectic the other store was, but it’s got all the charm, just a little bit nicer now,” Michaud said.
Le Chaînon plans to open up a second store in Villeray at 8601 Boulevard Saint-Laurent in December 2023. This location will be the operation’s sole donation collection point.