The Mennonite Central Committee’s novel take on a thrift store, the rePurpose Centre, is packing up in Elmira, bound for New Hamburg.
The operation, which sees items donated to MCC sold by weight rather than priced individually, will set up shop in the former Ten Thousand Villages (TTV) distribution centre. The non-profit agency has been shutting down TTV locations for the past couple of years, citing changes in the market. The New Hamburg location closed in the spring.
The rePurpose Centre opened at a former grocery store location in Elmira in March of 2018, acting as both a warehouse for MCC Thrift Stores in the province and as a novel retail location. The plan is to have the New Hamburg retail location open by mid-August, with the donation processing and warehousing following later in the fall.
Moving the operation to New Hamburg is in part a cost-saving effort, said John Head, executive director of MCC Ontario.
“Part of the reason for moving is expenses – this way, we anticipate when we get past COVID, with the impact it’s had on many people’s incomes, there’ll be a greater demand for thrift stores, good quality, secondhand merchandise. The availability of good supply and very good pricing… will become more appealing.”
Head notes the MCC’s thrift shops, including those in Elmira, have seen an increase in both donations and shoppers since the province began lifting the coronavirus-related lockdown of the economy.
In making the transition to the new measures demanded by health officials, MCC has seen strong support from its volunteers, many of who are seniors and retired people, he added.
MCC will be leasing 37,000 square feet of space from the new owners of the former Ten Thousand Villages centre, consolidating other operations there as well. The New Hamburg location is approximately 10,000 square feet larger than the Elmira store.
“This new location and modern warehousing will provide MCC Social Enterprise with more opportunity for growth. The facility will have additional process handling capability in support of MCC’s expanding social enterprise network,” said Karla Richards, MCC’s social enterprise operations manager, in a release announcing the move.
“The rePurpose Centre is a place for accumulating thrift shop donations from our other locations, sorting them and sending them back to the stores for selling purposes. But then what doesn’t sell in the retail space thrift stores comes back to the rePurpose Centre.”
Also heading to new location is part of MCC’s New Hamburg Thrift Centre, which will free up some 5,000 sq. ft. of retail space by moving donation processing to the former TTV site. As well, the MCC Material Resources warehouse, currently located at the head-office building in Kitchener, will be moving much of its processing and storage facilities to the former TTV building.
“Some of the collection that occurs there [will continue]. But we’ll be able to expand by moving to the space in New Hamburg. And then it’ll free up some retail space for our thrift store in that building,” said Head of the 50 Kent Ave. location in Kitchener.
The New Hamburg Thrift Centre post the highest sales in Canada for MCC, making the expansion an easy call.
“We’re leasing warehouse space in that building right next door to allow us to expand retail floor space, consolidate some back-end processing, and just the efficiency of being under one roof.”
Moving the rePurpose Centre out of Elmira will prove something of loss for customers travelling by horse-drawn buggies, Head acknowledged, adding the regular thrift Store on Church Street West will continue to operate as usual.