Tag Archives: mcc thrift store

A Fine Balance

winnipeg busI went back to volunteering at the MCC Thrift Store on Selkirk Avenue yesterday.  It was going to be the first time I was spending time indoors with a group of people since the pandemic started. I took the bus and that was a first for me too.  Before COVID-19 I took the bus everywhere in Winnipeg. on the bus with maskThere were only two other riders on the bus yesterday morning. I wore my mask and was careful about covering my hands when I touched the railings and doors.

MCC Thrift Store Selkirk Avenue WinnipegThe Thrift Store had just opened the day before to the public and the shop managers told us they’d had a record sales day. People had obviously been waiting for the store to open. Yesterday only volunteers were on-site because for now, the shop is only open Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays with strict limits on how many people can be in the store at a time.

thrift shop upstairs

The upper floor of the Thrift Shop is large enough that volunteers can stay six feet away from each other

The number of volunteers who can work on the upper level of the store sorting and pricing and cleaning is limited as well, so I couldn’t volunteer with the usual group of women from my church.  We have too many people in our group.  A smaller number of them will volunteer today. But even though I wasn’t with my church friends, I knew all the other volunteers there yesterday from various connections and it was nice to chat as we worked a safe six feet apart from one another.  

christmas boxesI am the Christmas lady at the store and plenty of Christmas decorations and paraphernalia had piled up for me to sort, clean, organize, package and price.  I was there for five hours and didn’t get to the bottom of the pile although I had filled eight boxes with product ready to sell in December by the time I left. I decided to walk home rather than take the bus and that felt good. Next week I think I will bring my bike. Since the shop will be closed to the public while I work on Wednesdays there will plenty of space to store my bike inside. 

in the storeI was a little nervous about the whole thing but I am glad I did it.  The work the Thrift Shop does is so important.  We recycle thousands of items, offer them at prices the people in one of the poorest areas of Winnipeg can afford, and the proceeds go to fund education programs, medical care, peacemaking efforts, water supply projects and agricultural initiatives in countries around the world.  

From what I’ve been reading it’s time for us all to take some tentative steps to return to our normal lives in the safest way possible and in ways that make us comfortable.  I can’t say I was totally comfortable yesterday, but it was good to do something useful and I think my comfort level will ease each week as I return. 

An article in Psychology Today says that helping others makes you healthier.  People over 55 who volunteer live longer, are happier and have better mental and physical health.  I know I must continue to exercise caution as I volunteer because it could be dangerous, but there are also huge benefits to volunteering and I need to find the fine balance between the risks and rewards.

I think we will all be trying to figure out that fine balance in many areas of our lives in the coming weeks, months and perhaps even years. 

Other posts……….

Look What I Found

Embracing Anxiety and Handling It

Empathy and the Golden Rule


Filed under COVID-19 Diary

Christmas All Year Round

Of late I’ve morphed into the Christmas Lady at the MCC(Mennonite Central Committee)  Thrift Store on Selkirk Avenue where I have been volunteering now for about five years.  Inspired by the example of both my mother and mother-in-law who were volunteers in MCC stores in Steinbach, Manitoba and Leamington, Ontario for many years I decided to make that part of my retirement plan too.  I started out working at the front counter of the store getting to know all the interesting people in the neighborhood who are regular visitors and the wonderful volunteers who operate the cash register and help clients find the items they are looking for. Then when the woman who took care of sorting and pricing books needed to take a leave of absence I replaced her for nearly a year.  When she returned and my services were no longer needed as the ‘book lady’ I began  working with a lively and interesting group of women from my church who volunteer at the Thrift Store once a week in the upstairs area, unpacking boxes and sorting and cleaning and pricing items. During my time with them I have become something of a Christmas specialist.

Someone donated a twelve place setting of Christmas dinnerware this week.

You simply would not believe the amount of Christmas stuff that arrives at the Thrift Store each week. I organize and sort it and clean it and price it. I usually fill up four boxes or so a week with wrapping paper and wreaths, tree lights and tablecloths, candles and creches and cookie cutters.  Then the boxes are taken down into the basement of the Thrift Store to be stored till Christmas.  

By summer that pile in the basement is HUGE! Many of the items donated to our store come from the homes of older folks who are downsizing because they are leaving their houses to move to personal care homes or assisted living facilities.  christmas bag thrift storeIt is incredible how much Christmas stuff one person or family can amass in a lifetime.  It makes me determined not to add to my own Christmas cache even though many of the items I am sorting and pricing are so………. nice and I am tempted to buy them.

marge at thrift store with wreath

My friend Marge with a kitchy wreath decorated with hand knitted stockings. I am continually unearthing ‘treasures’ like this.

My experience at the Thrift Store has made me much more cautious and careful about buying anything new.  It has taught me that we don’t need half the things we buy and most of the things we do need to buy can be purchased at a Thrift Store for less than half the price……….. including Christmas stuff. 

Other posts…..

The Book Lady

The Magic of Tidying Up

Going On a Field Trip




1 Comment

Filed under Retirement

Going on a Field Trip

lunch timeI went on a field trip last week with a group of women from my church. We all volunteer at the Selkirk MCC Thrift Store together.  Marj is our leader.   Her weekly news reports via e-mail keep us in touch with each other. That way even if we miss a week of volunteering we still know what’s going on with the others in our group.  In one of her newsletters Marj proposed a field trip.  We all agreed it was a great idea. So last Wednesday we headed off on our little adventure. 

morrisFirst stop of course was another Thrift Shop.  This one in Morris.  manager morrisA staff member who originally hailed from Newfoundland gladly took us ‘behind the scenes’ to get a better idea of how the place worked.  morris tourWe checked out their slick price marking system. storage system morrisAnd took note of how they organized things that came in as donations. bargain hunterWe poked around the aisles looking for bargains and….fur coat even tried on a mink stole that was for sale.  jasmine tea roomThen it was time to head for the Jasmine Tea Room in Altona.  We were in two different vehicles and each car took a bit of a detour through the town, since both drivers had Altona roots and wanted to show us sites that had been important to them when they had lived in Altona. lunch altonaOur lunch at the Jasmine Tea Room was delicious and since we finished eating a little early……altona gallery park we headed off to Altona’s  Gallery in the Park to wander among the sculptures there

mcc store altona

Next we dropped in at the Altona Thrift Shop.  It is of historical significance because it was the first MCC Thrift Shop in North America and was founded by four energetic and philanthropic women from Altona.

mcc thrift shop founder

Altona residents Selma Loewen, Sara Stoesz, Susan Giesbrecht, and Linie Friesen started the first Thrift Shop in 1972  to raise funds for MCC’s work  in developing countries. 

 altona thrift storeThe store staff was ever so nice to us and gave us a tour of their facilities. quilts altonaWe marveled at the beautiful quilt room where material is saved and cut and sewn and stitched by many groups of volunteers. Then the quilts are displayed and sold.hildebrand home neubergthalOn the way home we made a stop in Neubergthal, a Canadian historic site where homes and other buildings, are maintained as they might have been in a traditional Mennonite village.  Here we pose on the driveway of a home that belongs to fellow members at Bethel Mennonite Church. 

After our Neubergthal stop we headed back to Winnipeg and said good-bye, but not for long since we will meet again next week on the second storey of the Selkirk Thrift Shop where once again we will be unpacking, organizing, cleaning, and pricing donated items. Of course we will also be chatting about our memorable field trip. 

Other posts…….

I’m A Shop Girl

The T-4’s Go Mennonite In Neubergthal


1 Comment

Filed under New Experiences, Religion

Embrace the Movement

They came from all over Canada. A couple of weeks ago when I volunteered at the Mennonite Central Committee Thrift Shop on Selkirk Avenue we were inundated with two bus loads of visitors. selkirk thrift shop visitors

These were Thrift Shop administrators, volunteers, board members and executive members from other cities. They had come to Winnipeg for a conference called Embrace the Movement where they could share ideas about how to run thrift stores more effectively and efficiently and to receive information and inspiration from guest speakers. visitors to thrift shopI talked with people from Saskatchewan, British Columbia, Ontario and other places in Manitoba. They were touring Manitoba Thrift Stores after spending a number of days attending workshops that addressed such things as recruiting volunteers, creating safe shopping and working environments, dealing peacefully and in restorative ways with shop lifters, quick merchandise turn around and handling conflict. visitors to thrift store

The people who came to tour were different ages, had many different professions and helped operate very different kinds of stores in places all over Canada. While visiting Manitoba thrift shops they were getting ideas for ways they might improve their own stores. Thrift shops accept donations of things people no longer want or need. They fix the items, clean them, price them and resell them. founding of mcc thrift stores

Our visitors were very interested in the new signboard at the front of our store which tells the story of the four women from Altona, Manitoba who started the first Mennonite Central Committee Thrift Shop. mennonite thrift shop visionThere are now over a hundred stores in North America run primarily by volunteers. These stores have raised more than $167 million dollars to provide food, clothing, education, shelter, medical care and other services to needy people around the world.

thrift shop logoAt the Thrift Shop every donation and purchase is a gift to the world in two ways. It saves the world’s natural environment by reusing and recycling things and it saves people in the world who need help in difficult circumstances. It’s a  movement that is certainly worth embracing. 

Other posts about Thrift Shops……

I’m A Shop Girl and I Love It

Mother’s Day Kitsch


Filed under Religion, Winnipeg

Mother’s Day Kitsch

It’s the day after Mother’s Day and mothers are trying to find places to put the sweet little gifts they’ve received. Their hearts were touched by the sentiment the presents conveyed but what to do with all those cute knick knacks they get year after year? I was working at the Mennonite Central Committee Thrift Store on Selkirk Avenue in Winnipeg last week and Mother’s Day kitsch was flying off our shelves. I took some photos before it was all gone.

If Mother's Were Flowers I'd Pick You

If Mothers were flowers I’d pick you

Mother's Day Teddy Bears

Mother’s Day Teddy Bears

A Mother's Love Makes All Things Bright and Beautiful

A mother’s love makes all things bright and beautiful

Plaque for Mother's Day

Plaque for Mother’s Day

You who bears the sweetest name

To one who bears the sweetest name

Mother's Day poem and Canada souvenir all in one ornament

A Mother’s Day poem and Canada souvenir 

What to do with your Mother’s Day kitsch? Bring some of your collection to the Thrift Store and we’ll sell it next year. Profits from our sales help to provide food, clothing, medical care and other services to needy people around the world. You’ll be helping others and have room left on your shelves for the new Mother’s Day kitsch that will be coming your way in just 364 days.

Other posts about the Thrift Shop……

I’m a Shop Girl and I Love It

Other posts about Mothers……

What Does Your Mother Do?

Thinking About Mothers At the Met

Big Mother


1 Comment

Filed under Holidays, Mother's Day