Mennonite Central Committee is celebrating 50 years of thrifting with the anniversary of the first MCC thrift shop opening in 1972.
The MCC thrift network provides financial support for MCC’s work around the world, contributing more than $250 million over 50 years to help people in need.
Prior to opening the first shop, MCC shipped secondhand clothes to partners all over the world. Leadership determined the money spent on shipping would be better spent buying items locally at a fraction of the cost. After hearing about this change, Linie Friesen, Selma Loewen, Susan Giesbrecht and Sara Stoesz dreamed up the concept of a temporary shop to turn secondhand clothing into cash to help others. The first MCC thrift shop opened in March 1972 in Altona, Man.
Today, more than 85 shops operate across Canada and the United States.
“We thought after about six months, everyone would have cleaned out their closets and we’d be out of business, but, as you can see, that’s not the case,” Giesbrecht said.
Thrift shops continue to grow in popularity as people move toward living more sustainable lifestyles with eco-friendly practices.
“When I had small children, I frequented thrift shops and yard sales because it was the only option that fit into our budget,” said Deb King, MCC U.S. national thrift shop development coordinator. “While that is still the case for many families, I am encouraged to see individuals who have disposable income choosing to shop at thrift shops because they are more aware of the negative impact that fast fashion has on our environment. Thrifting is now practiced by people of all ages and income levels.”
To encourage people to develop eco-friendly practices and celebrate the anniversary, MCC launched its “Thrifty 50 Challenge” on March 14. Participants receive a weekly sustainability challenge email for 50 weeks, plus a chance to win weekly MCC Thrift gift cards at thrifty50challenge.org.