Eric Kurtz (MCC Great Lakes executive director), Martha Gingerich, Lorene Coblentz, Sarah Troyer, Vi Troyer, Ruby Schrock, Phil Stauffer (Hartville Thrift Shoppe manager) with the check for the proceeds the Hartville shop sent to MCC. (MCC photo/ Jennifer Steiner)

Community support key to Ohio thrift shop’s $1M donation to MCC

Last year, an MCC Thrift shop in Ohio donated $1 million in profits to the organization’s programs around the world and is planning to do the same in 2022.

The large donation from the Hartville MCC Thrift Shoppe isn’t thanks to an auction, a special sale or a sudden influx of cash. It’s made possible by a long history of people committed to MCC’s vision of relief, development and peace in the name of Christ, the manager says.

“It’s the legacy that came before the million dollars that made it possible. It wasn’t anything we did last year … there’s a long history that came before it,” said Phil Stauffer, who has managed the shop since 2012.

The 29,000 square foot building boasts racks and racks of clothing, a housewares section, books, movies and furniture, but it wasn’t always such a large operation.

Roughly 43 years ago, the Hartville Thrift Shop was founded by a group of women who heard about turning second-hand clothing into money to support MCC.

The original shop was in a house owned by Howard and Sarah Miller, which they rented to the thrift shop founders for one dollar a year.

Now, some of the children and grandchildren of those founders continue to be involved with the shop, sitting on the board or supporting the thrift shop in other ways.

The retail floor at the Hartville Thrift Shoppe. (MCC photo/Joy Yoder)

“That legacy has gone on, that support from the community and from those women that started it and those families,” Stauffer said.

Growing up, Stauffer’s mother would wash clothing for his local MCC thrift shop.

“MCC and MCC Thrift has a long history in my mind and my makeup. It’s very important,” he said. “I also see this as a calling and as my way of serving God and contributing to His Kingdom on earth.”

Proceeds from MCC Thrift shops like Hartville, support MCC’s work around the world, providing food, blankets, medications and other supplies in places like Ukraine during times of crisis. The thrift shops also support long-term development work like improving the quality of education, providing clean water, training farmers on new agricultural techniques and offering loans and supports for so people can start their own businesses.

Growing year after year

Since Stauffer started in his role in 2012, the shop has grown exponentially from an 8,000 square foot building that was packed wall to wall on two floors.

That year, the shop expanded to 13,000 square feet, and then 20,000 square feet in 2019, and the shop continued to grow from there.

“The numbers were bearing out that we’re going to get to the point where we can give $1 million dollars. And we said, if we’re going to make this move [into a larger space], that’s our goal.”

Phil Stauffer, manager of the Hartville Thrift Shoppe on the retail floor. (MCC photo/ Jennifer Steiner)

In fact, the local chamber of commerce was coming out to do ribbon cuttings for their expansions so often, it dubbed the thrift shop “the king of ribbon cuttings,” said volunteer coordinator Brenda La Tulippe.

In addition to a legacy of generous donors and volunteers, Stauffer credits the success of the shop to the local buyers.

Hartville has a lot of resellers who buy from MCC and sell curated items at the local flea market, in vintage stores and online. Even so, the thrift shop hasn’t raised its prices for 10 years, seeing affordability as an important role they can play for those in need. “We see it as a ministry to the community,” Stauffer said.

The pandemic has been tough on the shop’s volunteer base, and management had to hire paid staff to ensure the shop stayed up and running.

Even with added expenses, Stauffer still hopes to meet and exceed his financial goals in the coming years.

“We anticipate and hope to continue to give in significant amounts to MCC.”