Uplifting

Everything In This Store Is Free...But There's A Catch

The Smile Shop in Calgary, Canada isn't like most stores. For one thing, it's in a tiny garage behind a Lutheran church.

Of course there are things for sale there - clothing, books, car seats, dishes - but they won't cost you a dime. Instead, the store's owner, 23-year-old Akeam Francis, charges the same thing for everything in his shop: a smile.

The unusual shop is just part of Francis's quest to collect 1 million smiles, and it's not the only way he's helping his community.

CBC

Francis is known around his city as the Calgary Helper, and the leader of the Smile Gang, a group of young people who help do odd jobs, yard work and other helpful tasks.

While the smile gang accepts small donations of food or money, they're mainly working for smiles.

Francis and his team are trying to collect 1 million smiles from people they've helped or donated things to. So far, their good deeds have put smiles on 800 happy faces.

the Calgary Helper

Their newest project, the Smile Shop, is already a big hit, with over 100 people visiting each week.

The Smile Gang collects donations on Wednesdays, then opens their doors on Saturday. They let people take as much as they need, but ask that they "shop with integrity." So far, Francis says none of his customers have been greedy or disrespectful.

Metro News

“The idea is that we can grow the community trust with people, because a lot of families need stuff, and a lot of families have stuff," he said. "Why not give them a central spot to come in and just have what they need?”

Francis will be getting a lot more smiles soon, because the Smile Shop will be expanding to a second location in the city. At the same time, Francis and his Smile Gang are continuing to help people in his neighborhood with anything they need.

If he keeps up all this hard work, he's sure to reach 1 million smiles in no time!

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