Remember to have fun

September 5, 2023

Turning Thrifts into Community Threads: The Visionary Journey of Chrissy Fred

In 2010, Chrissy Fred, an educational assistant in the Tseshaht Reserve’s Haahuupayak School in Port Alberni, BC, witnessed a heartwarming act. Teachers frequently reached into their pockets to provide snacks for their students, and she and her colleague were no exception. Such experiences, intertwined with personal inspirations from family, led Chrissy to create Skookum Deals, an enterprise with a heart of gold.

“Seeing my dreams slowly come alive has me feeling all sorts of happy. This project has been on my mind for many years and to finally see more and more progress fills my heart with so much joy,” Chrissy expresses, revealing the genuine dedication she has poured into her dream.

Skookum Deals stands out as a thrift store not just aiming to make profits, but with a mission. “Thou shall not pay retail,” Chrissy says, describing the core of her business. She is determined to offer affordable shopping experiences while giving back to the community in unique ways. From donating half of the profits to school snack programs to setting aside items for children to gift during the festive season, Skookum Deals is the embodiment of community-centered entrepreneurship.

In her formative years, Chrissy was inspired by multiple figures. Her late father, Gerald Fred Jr., was a beacon of work ethic. “My dad was a kind and respected man. I hear from a lot of people that I am a lot like him,” she shares, emphasizing the lessons she carried forward. Her late Grandma, Bertha Gus, was a thrift store enthusiast, with dreams of their very own store. And her late Uncle Keith Hunter, who introduced the sweat lodge to their community, offered prayers that shaped her path and purpose.

The drive for Skookum Deals goes beyond just selling thrifted items. Chrissy envisions a brick-and-mortar building brimming with tools schools could use. From freezers and jars to vacuum packers and dehydrators, she dreams of equipping schools for every eventuality. “We are always getting reminded about being ready and having an emergency kit prepared. What about schools?” Chrissy ponders, showcasing her genuine concern for school preparedness in emergencies.

While this entrepreneurial journey has been transformative, it hasn’t been without its challenges. Balancing home life with her burgeoning business is one of them. She reflects, “Long days and nights take a toll on you. At times, asking for help can be a challenge, or even keeping an open mind gets tough.”

Chrissy’s advice for budding entrepreneurs is crystal clear: “Invest in your personal and professional development… Celebrate your culture and heritage… Build a network of mentors and advisors… And the most important part is getting out there, living your dreams, and having fun!”

Register to watch Chrissy Fred pitch at the Retail Semi-Final Online Watch Party on September 7, 2023, at 6 PM ET and vote for Skookum Deals to win the 2023 People’s Choice Prize (#93) before September 17, 2023.