When a hungry stranger knocked on Brigid Milway’s door seeking work just a couple days after Nova Scotia went into its latest lockdown, the Dartmouth woman could hardly believe her eyes.
“A few people said it was probably a scam but I didn’t care,” says Milway. “If someone is desperate enough to come door-to-door during a lockdown, which is wild to me, it just broke my heart (and) it was a pretty easy decision after that.”
Specializing in selling eclectic antique finds online, Milway decided to run a special Auction a Day in May in which 20 percent of the proceeds from all sales would be forwarded to Feed Nova Scotia.
“Even though we are all struggling with money, it just felt so good to be able to do more to give back so that’s sort of where I got the thought to do this for the month of May,” explains Milway. “I know a lot more people are accessing the food banks right now and many people are struggling and I’m doing okay so there’s a little room for me to share.”
For the Auction a Day in May, Milway decided to specifically sell vintage brass items from a large collection she has amassed over the past year at estate sales. Among the pieces are various animals, a rare dinosaur, a curio cabinet and a vintage stencil set.
“I just ended up buying someone’s huge brass collection this year and I thought it would be a fun way to sell some of it,” says Milway. “Brass has been a hot commodity the last few years and it’s hard to find out in the wild.”
Fundraising is not a new challenge for Milway either. Since she began her online business in 2014, she has often organized fundraisers as well as participate in the Curio Collective, an ongoing series of vintage pop-up markets.
In fact, this past weekend Milway ran a separate auction on What These Old Things? to raise funds for the Child Foundation, which will purchase lifesaving equipment and medication for people struggling with the current COVID-19 crisis in India.
“Being self-employed, you are fighting for every dollar,” admits Milway. “But my grandmother always told us if you’re feeling down, the best thing you can do is help someone else.”
Milway says she will continue to find ways to fundraise for charities even after the Auction a Day in May comes to a conclusion at the end of the month. Not only does the simple act of charity provide her with a sense of pride but she says it also enables her, as an online entrepreneur, to stay connected to the larger community in a meaningful way.
“Being online and not having to pay rent somewhere means that I am working harder to make my money but I’m not losing money in rent and that sort of thing,” adds Milway. “It’s still a struggle but I’m not drowning and that gives me some room to take that little extra energy to give back because not everyone has that capacity right now.”
For more information on Milway's an 'Auction a Day in May', go to What These Old Things? website.