Tag Archives: selkirk thrift shop

Look What I Found!

Normally I volunteer at the MCC Thrift Store with a group of women from my church. But this week I went in on a different day. For a couple of hours in the afternoon, I was all alone in the upstairs workspace.  I am the “Christmas Lady” at the shop. Every week I sort and price and package all the Christmas items that have been donated. Most weeks I fill up five or six large banana boxes with items for sale.  Apparently, all these thousands of items will be purchased by customers in December. Left to my own devices last week I had no one to talk to about the unique items I was finding so I took photos instead. Check out this Scottish Christmas Santa in his kilt and bagpipes.  He is a music box figurine. I assumed the tune he’d play would be some Christmas carol but no….. once I had him all wound up he piped Amazing Grace. I was delighted to find this creche.  Made of cardboard it brought back memories of my childhood when I saw manger scenes just like this at my house, at church, school and in the homes of friends and family.  I just had to put it together to be sure all the pieces were there and they were!  I almost bought it myself. My next big find was these Christmas cocktail candles. Yes, complete with straws, fruit garnish and perky red bows they are actual candles but had never been lit. Finally out came this hat! I am not sure what it was doing in the box of donated Christmas stuff but I LOVED it! I did a little checking online and these feather headbands were all the rage in the 1920s.  They were part of the Flapper look. I wasn’t quite sure how to wear it so I tried it in two different ways. I almost bought the hat too but tucked it into a Halloween box thinking someone might want to use it with a Roaring Twenties costume.

Although I made my own fun in the shop last week I am looking forward to sharing my workday again with my friends in the future. 

Other posts……….

Christmas All Year Round

Going On A Field Trip

The Book Lady

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Filed under Retirement

I’m a Shop Girl and I Love It

I volunteer at a thrift shop on Selkirk Avenue in Winnipeg.  

Mennonite thrift shops sell donated used items at affordable prices. All the profits from sales go to help needy people around the world through the work of the relief agency Mennonite Central Committee. Most of the staff who work at Mennonite thrift shops are volunteers so the overhead is much lower than at other businesses. Our Selkirk Avenue thrift shop is in a low-income neighborhood. We offer local residents a place to shop for the things they want and need even if they are living on a limited budget.  We save lots of items from landing up in garbage dumps and landfills because we provide a way for people to recycle things they aren’t using anymore by donating them to our store.  

Selma Loewen, Sara Stoesz, Susan Giesbrecht, and Linie Friesen started the shop in 1972 in Altona to raise funds for MCC’s work overseas.

Mennonite thrift shops were founded by four Manitoba women who opened the first thrift shop in Altona, Manitoba in 1972. Their idea led to the establishment of over a hundred thrift shops all over North America which have raised more than $165 million for the work of Mennonite Central Committee a one hundred year old organization that provides food, education services, agricultural support, and medical help in the name of peace and mercy around the world. Gerry Loewen who was the manager of the thrift shop when I first started working there is the daughter of one of those founders Selma Loewen. Selma was a very close friend of my mother’s. A conversation with Gerry at my parents’ sixtieth wedding anniversary celebration got me interested in volunteering at the thrift shop. 

I enjoy the friendly people I work with, who come from different faith groups, have different work backgrounds, have lived in different countries, and contribute different gifts to the thrift shop. 

I enjoy our customers. Some come in almost every day. We know many of them by name.  Customers often share things about their life- their joys and sorrows and concerns. I learn so much from listening to them. 

I enjoy working at the cash register, tagging and pricing clothes, putting items out onto the shelves, packaging up the goods people purchase, and cleaning up the shelves and racks. It is a very different kind of work than I did in my careers as a classroom teacher and freelance writer. There is something rewarding and peaceful about completing hands-on, simpler, and more routine tasks. 

I am following in a family tradition by working at the thrift shop. Both my mother and mother-in-law volunteered for many years at thrift shops in their home communities. Till he was nearly 90 my Dad worked three days a week at a thrift shop in the Kildonan area of Winnipeg. 

The Wittenbergs by Sarah Klassen

Sarah Klassen, a well-known Canadian writer, has set several scenes in her novel The Wittenbergs in the thrift shop on Selkirk Avenue where I volunteer. A woman in the novel has been struggling with a lack of purpose and self-esteem. Her work at the thrift shop makes her feel useful and helps her turn her life around. It changes her. 

A thrift shop is a place where lives are changed- the lives of shoppers, volunteers, and the people around the world who ultimately benefit from the resources and opportunities they receive through the Mennonite Central Committee.thrift shop logo

Other posts about Mennonites…….

Autographs from a Conscientious Objectors Camp

The Constructed Mennonite

Grace Mennonite Church

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Filed under Religion, Winnipeg