Fashion-savvy philanthropist Rhonda Davis nominated for YWCA’s Women of Distinction award
Amnesty International. World Wide Fund for Nature. Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre. The list of charitable organizations Rhonda Davis works with is pretty much endless. So it’s no wonder the owner-operator of Changes Clothing & Jewellery Bar (4454 West 10th Avenue) was nominated for YWCA’s Women of Distinction award in the category of business and the professions. Perhaps not surprisingly, it’s not her first nomination. In 2005, her staff made sure the fashion-savvy philanthropist was on the ballot. Davis didn’t take home top honours back then and she seems pretty darn sure she doesn’t have a shot in hell when they’re handed out June 1 at the Westin Bayshore.
“I’m kind of a funny little bird in this category, because there’s people from multinational law firms and large corporations and then”¦me—owner-operator of a store—and so, the likelihood of me winning it is slim to none,” says Davis, who recently sat down with the Straight in the back of her Point Grey consignment boutique.
Along with the 14 or so charity events she organizes throughout the year, she makes daily clothing donations to women living in the Downtown Eastside. According to Davis, she sees an average of 200 to 300 new pieces come through her store each day, so that’s a lot of potential leftovers going to good use.
“I see it every day—20 back-to-back appointments of people with excess items and all this stuff,” says Davis, who’s been in business for 13 years now. “If I said everything was free in my store, there would probably still be extra stuff left over, so in that way, there’s no reason for anyone to be cold or for anyone to be without.”
Because Davis has access to so much clothing, she only carries top-notch mid-to-high-end consignment clothing that she lovingly refers to as “like new” fashion. For example, you can pick up something like a mint-condition black silk-chiffon ruffled dress with lilac trim by Nicole Miller for $159—new, that would probably set you back around 700 bucks. There’s also a huge selection of summer tops, including a previously loved sheer-grey and metallic-specked Guess blouse with a matching sash belt and tied short sleeves for $28 on the day the Straight dropped by.
Davis also carries various sample items from local designers, as well as a huge selection of premium jeans that she consigns for stores that have a surplus of stock. So you can pick up a pair of Rock & Republic, True Religion, or Sevens for $59 to $99.
“The jeans are by far the best deal—to pay 300 or 400 dollars for jeans is crazy,” says Davis.
As well as clothing, her bright and friendly neighbourhood store boasts an impressive assortment of Canadian handmade jewellery lines, including the Galiano Island–based Pink Lily Silver’s collection of marine-themed chain necklaces, which come with shiny silver pendants such as whale tails and starfish. Each piece goes for $40, but Davis donates $5 of that to the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.
“I’m just trying to make it really easy for people,” says Davis. “So if they shop here, I’m already giving a whole bunch of things to charity and so they’re already helping in that way.”
Her next charity event is the “Where to Wear It” free drop-in silent auction on Thursday (May 27) from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at her store, where she’ll be celebrating her nomination as well as raising money for a long-term safe house for abused women. (Dress code: anything you’ve been itching to wear, but haven’t had the occasion to wear it.)