The History of the Brandon MCC Thrift Shop
Many of us (members of the various Mennonite Churches in Westman area) had been sending Material-aid and used clothing to Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) for years. Another MCC project was Self-Help crafts creating a market for gift items made by artisans in developing countries allowing them to raise monies to support tier families. These crafts were being sold at various occasions such as church bazaars. MCC was asking us to “hold back” on all the used clothing we were sending, so that the rummage sales became popular means of raising funds and for recycling. We believe God was ‘training and us and giving us a ‘vision’.
We had attended the annual Manitoba MCC meeting where the idea of combining the above two projects started gift and thrift shops were discussed. Following the meeting a MCC Newsletter announced the success of a store in Altona, Manitoba. We were certain now that someone would be inspired to start a store in Brandon.
A Planning meeting was held September 13, 1973 with the presidents of the board. Many concerns were discussed; would we get enough volunteers, donations, etc.? Letters were sent out and approximately 50 women attended to work on this project. Enthusiasm was high and the project gained momentum.
Our first task was to find a suitable place, a huge store at 146-10th st! The agent assured us we could have it for a reasonable rent. Being rather naïve, we took his word for it and organized a “cleaning bee”. Many ladies arrived with mops and pails on a bright autumn morning, only to find out that the place was not available to us. We were very disappointed, we continued our search...
Reluctantly, we agreed on a very small place at 304-10th St. since it has been used as a bicycle repair shop recently it was very dirty. An anonymous donor paid the first month’s rent and we were encouraged to put the effort into cleaning and preparing it. The store opened October 19th, 1973 … Just one month after our first planning meeting! We could not believe the amount of the sales that day – half a month’s rent! At the end of November we were able to send $700 to MCC. We even found space to set up space to set up a quilt frame and fifty quilts were made by volunteers in their spare time at the store that first year.
Our first general meeting held November 19th, 1973 was well attended to hear reports on the store and also to organizing according to the constitution given to us from Winnipeg. The Board would consist of one representative from each church who would be responsible to schedule volunteers for their group. Now, our board consists of a variety of volunteer members, from members of the church to volunteers. Nine years ago they brought in a new manager who expanded their arms to volunteers outside of the church who believed and respected in the same values as the original founders.
A pricing committee was established and the store needed a name. In spite of the fact we were unable to sell Self-Help Crafts due to the limited space; the decision was made to name it “Community Self-Help Center”, hoping to include Self-Help Crafts in the future.
In 1986 we moved to 414 Pacific Ave. and we are happy to announce that in 2017 we purchased 420 Pacific so now we are expanding the store to help more of our local community. In October 26th, 1998 we official changed the name of the store to “MCC Thrift Store”, and in 2018 the name was changed to MCC Thrift Shop to become consistent with National Branding.
There have been a lot of changes since the first days back in 1973, but we still have the same mission statement, “As a network for not-for-profit Thrift Shops, We support the local and global relief, development and peace project of Mennonite Central Committee”. As we move into the future we will continue to honor our past founders by keeping their beliefs and values as our guide.
From 25 Years calendar. Submitted by Lydia Klassen. Transcribed by Kimberley Danley