2023 was a very good year for Altona MCC Thrift Store.
    
Gratitude for volunteers; surprise at the increase in revenue; delight at the dedication and the willingness of people to pitch in and help from both donors and volunteers were a few highlights outlined in the annual report by Walter Hiebert, board chair.

"It's been really good all around."

Sales were surprisingly strong said Hiebert.

"As a matter of fact, I just checked, and the sales were strong enough, so we sent an extra $60,000 to MCC (Mennonite Central Committee) at the year. And we were able to give a one-time grant of $10,000 to the Gardens on Tenth renovation project, which we are both pleased to do."

In his four years with the board, Hiebert said this was a first. One factor that played a role was an increase in the number of shoppers. 

Inflation also impacted the non-profits bottom line.

"We, as a board and Dave (Rempel) as a manager, were hoping that we could maybe increase the prices of our clothes from $2.00 to $2.50. There’s strong resistance for that," noted Hiebert with a chuckle. "So, inflation has really benefited our shoppers most of all rather than us." 

 

The Altona location is the flagship for more than 85 shops in operation across Canada and the United States.Established in 1972, the Altona location is the flagship for more than 85 MCC thrift shops in operation across Canada and the United States.

Recent visitors to the thrift store will have noticed a few interior changes.

"We've got a new display for the bookcase. It's no longer in a little corner where, if you're [in a group of three], you have to wonder who is breathing first. It's much better now. We have a Christmas nook [as well]. It's much better now."

Hiebert outlines a few more improvements coming in 2024.

"We are hoping to get a program in place for introducing new volunteers, getting new people involved in different departments so that the changeover can be easier and can relieve some of the load on the more senior members because we have many seniors. Secondly, we want to continue to restructure the store. We're trying to get a display sense so that it looks like a clean, rather contemporary store."

Volunteers are the backbone of the non-profit.

"It's uplifting and for me it's rewarding to see volunteers come," said Hiebert. "Some other thrift stores we've visited have had to hire cashiers. They've had to hire [staff] for this or that. We don't have to. Our community has supported us. We are blessed by donors as well as by people who volunteer. We're unique, I think, in some ways."

Staff also have a vision for the store's role in the community.

"Our volunteers asked us whether we could give back to the local community. And so we are supporting locally the Food Bank, Teen Challenge, Youth for Christ, Pembina Valley Pregnancy Care, Faith Mission, Genesis House and Union Gospel gets books and Bibles from us as we have them available. We're trying to be helpful to individual families that come as well. It's been a delight and a pleasure to be involved in that kind of stuff."