Focus on Community the Driving Force Behind MCC Thrift Shop

Mennonite Central Committee
Wednesday, 17 October 2001

WINNIPEG, Man. -- Sylvia Todaschuk looks across the street through her store window most Thursdays and marvels at the line-up of people waiting to get into the MCC thrift store on Selkirk Avenue.

They want to take advantage of the new additions of used goods and clothing.

"The thrift shop is an asset to our community," says Todaschuk, owner of Todaschuk Sisters' Ukrainian Boutique and Chair of the Selkirk Business Association. Although a bit apprehensive when first informed about the proposed store, she now enthusiastically calls it "the best thing that could have happened."

She appreciates that it serves not only people that live within the community--located in the city's North End, which is struggling economically--but those who come to the store from outside as well.

Marty Donkervoort, Director of Business Development for the North End Community Renewal Corporation located next door to the thrift shop, also commends the store for its ability to bring in outside business. The shop is a "destination" that attracts people to the area.

He notes that the presence of the thrift shop fulfils more than one purpose as it revitalizes a once boarded-up building and provides "a useful service to the community." Smiling, he adds that --the prices are perhaps too low-- they're just giving stuff away."

The thrift shop officially opened on January 4, 2001 and is an offshoot of the Sargent Avenue Thrift Shop. It is already profitable, but, according to Mary Reimer, President of the Selkirk Avenue Thrift Shop Board, what matters more is the place the store occupies in the local community. Reimer notes that providing "good, used things at a reasonable price, is a service to the community. This is a place where people feel welcome."

Other enthusiastic volunteers at the store agree with Reimer. Peter Peters comments on the work the thrift shop does alongside other community-building programs and says that "nobody is working in isolation."

The commitment to the community is also evident in Maren Kliewer, Assistant Manager. One of her main concerns is that the store not be in competition with surrounding businesses. She suggests that unlike other thrift shops, the main purpose of this one "isn't to generate money for MCC but to be here for the community." She cites the relationships within the store as evidence of the opportunities provided by the thrift shop. "I see my role here as building bridges between the volunteers and the customers."

For more information, or to contact Mennonite Central Committee, see their website at:

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