With National Thrift Shop day taking place across the country next week, two Elmira thrift stores are hoping to bring awareness to the key role that their operations play in the community.
“To us, it is a special day that just thrift is being recognized for the work that they do and contributing to helping the environment by selling used clothing. It’s a day that actually recognizes what we do, whereas we don’t always get recognition for the hard work that we put in here,” said Lisa Bauman, the production manager for MCC Thrift’s Elmira location.
MCC Thrift helps Mennonite Central Committee fund their charitable acts in Canada and abroad, Bauman said.
“We definitely have an impact not just on the environment by keeping things out of the landfill, but also by using the money that we raise to help people in poverty as well,” she said.
Woolwich Community Services’ thrift store is a key part of their fundraising effort, said executive director Kelly Christie.
“The profits from the store [are]part of our budget each year to help us run our program so it helps us with funding for the food bank or the family violence prevention program or our community support programs – all the different programs that we do here,” Christie said.
Christie explained that the WCS thrift shop accepts a wide variety of donations, including houseware items, books, toys, clothing, shoes, purses, knickknacks, paintings and other artwork.
“We are unable to take large furniture because we just don’t have the store space to take it and, of course, no beds or couches or that type of thing,” Christie said.
According to MCC Elmira general manager Debbie Siertsema, inflation has led to an increase of shopping at the store.
“We really see that people are looking around for other options for shopping and not just where they used to go shopping before, so they’re looking for new places to find their items,” Siertsema said.
The current economic climate has had an impact on the purchases people are making, Bauman said.
“We’re thankful that we are able to provide here more affordable products for people who might not be able to afford to go out and buy the brand new pair of shoes that they need. You can come here and you can get a nice pair of running shoes for $6, $8 or $10,” she said.
Bauman explained she is trying to change the minds of those who might think negatively of shopping at thrift stores.
“You’re not paying the prices that you would in [other] stores. And you can find some really unique things, whether it’s vintage items or things that are from years gone by that you wouldn’t be able to pick up in a store now. So I think people need to kind of get out of the idea that thrift is just meant for the people who can’t afford new,” she said.
Thrift shops are for everyone, Christie added.
“No matter what your income level is, [thrift shopping] is a great idea. So we would like to encourage thrift shopping.”
National Thrift Shop Day is August 17.