30 May 2024

Goodbye The Green Shed. Hello Goodies Junction. A new Canberra institution is about to be reborn

| James Coleman
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The Green Shed

The new signage will soon be up at the Mugga Lane site. Photo: James Coleman.

Tomorrow, Friday, 31 May, marks the beginning of a new era for Canberra.

The Green Shed, a local institution of 13 years, becomes Goodies Junction under its new operators, St Vincent de Paul Canberra/Goulburn (aka, Vinnies).

The details of the process are still under investigation by the ACT Audit Office for its “fairness” and “transparency”, but the local charity won the ACT Government contract to manage the resource management centres at both Mugga Lane and Mitchell in early March.

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The news whipped up a social media storm after (quickly dispelled) rumours that the Green Shed’s 84 staff might be losing their jobs. Vinnies reassured employees they were welcome to reapply and that the charity would, in fact, advertise more positions.

“We want as many people as possible to come and join the Vinnies family,” a spokesperson said at the time.

The roller doors came down on The Green Shed’s Mitchel facility at 5 pm, Wednesday, while over at Mugga Lane, staff were packing away the last few objects in trucks and giving the shed the final once-over on Thursday afternoon.

The Green Shed

Clearing out the Mugga Lane shed. Photo: James Coleman.

Many of the same staff will return tomorrow as normal to fit out new drop-off areas at both sites. New signage will also be installed.

Goodies Junction will then open to the public on 1 July, and Vinnies promises business as usual.

“We have been working hard over the past few months to ensure a smooth transition for all staff with multiple touchpoints, including a casual meet-and-greet dinner last night to chat about what the first day will look like and what being employed by us will mean,” director of operations Lindsay Rae told Region.

The Green Shed

Many Green Shed staff will become employees at Goodies Junction. Photo: James Coleman.

“The first day will involve an all-hands meeting, distribution of new uniform items and some training. Otherwise, it will be business as usual to ensure we are set up to accept donations from the community.”

The task of salvaging items from Canberra’s waste management centres began at the Mugga Lane tip in 1988 with Revolve.

Ellnor Grassby, who would go on to become one of the city’s first MLAs, opened it as a shipping container and scrap yard with the motto “recycling for job creation”. Staff would scour the tip each day for salvageable items.

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A number of contractors followed over the years, but Charlie Bigg-Whither and his wife Sandie Parkes have been there more or less from the beginning, save a hiatus between 1999 and 2010 for family life.

With the help of Tiny and Elaine Srejic to begin with, the couple built The Green Shed into a business of four sites with 84 employees and more than 20,000 visitors a week.

Vinnies takes over the contract as it embarks on a mission to cut the number of items sent to landfill from its stores by 10 to 30 per cent over the next four years.

The charity said the business aligned with its sustainability values, and the proceeds would help fund its services and offer work experience and employment opportunities for those less fortunate in the community.

It also allows Vinnies to accept furniture donations, something their stores have been unable to do up to this point.

Just as particularly valuable items went to The Green Shed shop in Civic, “some items best suited to the Vinnies shops will be moved there”.

The Green Shed

The Green Shed closure. Photo: James Coleman.

“Conversely, items that are donated at Vinnies but are best suited to Goodies Junction will be transferred over,” Mr Rae said.

“We believe this will further enhance the circular economy in Canberra, grow reusable services and reduce waste in the Territory.”

Even though The Green Shed’s popular ‘make-an-offer’ days are over, the government has said pricing will continue to be “transparent”. Vinnies has also promised a free clothes section and items starting from 25 cents.

Donations of furniture, electrical equipment, clothing, building materials and tools are all welcome at the usual drop-off points from 8 am, Friday, 31 May, at both the Mitchell and Mugga Lane venues, and then from 7:30 am to 4:45 pm, Monday to Sunday after that.

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Congrats to Vinnies on their new venture, but … Goodies Junction? Terrible name!

Why are people so unkind??

Shedea Greentree12:37 pm 01 Jun 24

Wow, the Shed has been cleared during EOFY while under investigation by the Audit Office? Hmm. And the new name is purile, and I would resent inheriting plastic packaging especially with recycled purchases. Interesting times. We’ll just see what happens I guess.

Stanleyhistory1:18 pm 31 May 24

This raises lots of questions. What was wrong with The Green Shed? Why did Vinnies have to muscle in on a viable business? is this yet another fail by the ACT government? Will we soon be paying SVDP prices? And how much of the stock Vinnies inherited go to landfill? SVDP has a lot of lost trust to regain with the Canberra community. We’ll be watching – and I hope that Riotact keeps an eye open and reports on the new management.

Keyboard Warrior11:28 pm 31 May 24

Yes I agree it will be good to finally see all the profits going to charities rather than Green Shed licensees. There is much love for the Green Shed but sadly it has only made two people very wealthy rather than addressing the needs of the ACT. As you highlight this will be a good change for Canberra, it is about time these government assets stopped making these private operators wealthy and started supporting charities in need via Vinnies.

I want this to be a smooth transition, and I hope the former TGS staff are being given a fair deal ( not holding my breath) . But Vinnies charge like wounded bulls and are way too picky about what donations they will accept. Iwill give the new lot a go despite the cringy name but I am not hopeful.

A dodgy decision. Vinnies is a registered NDIS provider, also receiving head-leases over ACT public housing, due to its cosy relationship w the ACT Gub’mint, and then filling the flats w NDIS participants and taking the NDIS accommodation payment. They do a terrible job too. Just look at Oaks Estate and Reid.

I can *guess* that Vinnies will use the site as an ’employment’ hub as a way to pay itself the ‘supports in employment’ funding stream that NDIS participants receive, and then the ACT and Vinnies can pat each other on the back for doing such a great job of “supporting” vulnerable people.

I want to vomit.

Satan Herself11:38 am 31 May 24

Yes, and housing those from the “building communities not prisons” program; causing the residents near the houses noticing a huge uptick in break-ins and assaults in their area. Oddly the gubmint can’t seem to correlate what is blatantly obvious…provide a smorgasbord, people will eat.

Thomas Cameron10:52 am 31 May 24

Hopefully nobody will shop there. It’s disgusting how they weaseled their way into something that should have stayed the same.

“weaseled” in through a competitive tender process?

Keyboard Warrior11:31 pm 31 May 24

Where would you prefer these profits went? To a registered charity or straight into the pockets of two individuals who don’t own the sheds, don’t pay utilities, don’t pay rent, don’t own the stock.
Which part of this disgusts you?

Well I can see the prices skyrocketing under Vinnies and all the choice pieces going to the staff, as per their stores. I’ll wait for the rebirth of the greenshed and go there instead.

brucewantstobecool10:50 pm 30 May 24

There since the beginning… Except for 11 years when they weren’t.

Could we please stop treating the Green Shed as something truly special? It seems like multiple entities have operated this as a business, not a charity, over the years. I for one was honestly surprised when I realised the Green Shed, and Revolve before that, was a business, not an ACT Gov social enterprise.

This is not necessarily a problematic change. With Vinnies at least it’s clear that excess ‘profits’ will go back into the community in some fashion, rather than private pockets.

Satan Herself11:54 am 31 May 24

Will they though? Look into the distribution of funds…

Keyboard Warrior11:37 pm 31 May 24

Vinnies is 100% not for profit vs current Green Shed owners…
Show me what the Green Shed owners have given to society over the last 12 months? Free Lego that was given to them from ACT residents.
This is an ACT government asset, and it has made one or two people a lot of money. That is why it is time for this golden egg to be handed on to someone who will share these gifts with all the community.

Everything will be wrapped in plastic?!? They cannot be serious. That alone is reason enough for me to boycott. Can anyone tell me how to petition the government or whomever it should be directed at. That is just ridiculous, forcing rubbish on recycling.

Keyboard Warrior7:33 pm 30 May 24

It will be good to finally see profits going to charities and social enterprise.
With no overheads, no rent, and free inventory, this ACT gov asset must have made the previous owners some serious cash over the years.
I can’t see the new name catching on though, it will always be The Green Shed.

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