50 years ago, MCC Thrift founder had “no idea” first shop would turn into multi-million dollar operation
In 1972, Susan Giesbrecht joined friends Linie Friesen, Selma Loewen, and Sara Stoesz to open up the very first MCC Thrift shop in Altona, mainly selling second-hand clothes to people in the region. None of them thought the shop would even last the year.
“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,” said Giesbrecht, now 93 years old. “It grew much beyond what I, or any of the four of us, thought it would grow into.”
In the years prior to opening the Altona shop, MCC shipped second-hand clothes to partners all over the world. Eventually, leadership determined the money spent on shipping would be better spent buying clothes and other necessities locally at a fraction of the cost. At the same time, MCC began to ponder how to turn used clothing into money to benefit relief and development projects around the world.
The four women had an idea to do just that. They managed to find an inexpensive storefront in Altona, cleaned it up and set to work seeking donations from people in the community to sell.
The space was so small, shoppers would sometimes ask to buy Loewen’s coat, which often hung behind the cash register because there was nowhere else, Giesbrecht remembered with a laugh. “We thought this was the way to turn our clothes into cash. And it worked,” she said.
From that humble beginning grew a thriving network of shops across Canada and the U.S. which generates millions of dollars every year for MCC programs locally and around the world. In the 2020/2021 fiscal year, shops in both countries contributed CAD $12,387,000 to support MCC’s work.
MCC - Relief, development, and peace in the name of Christ