Saturday, January 24, 2015

Why I Love MCC Gift &Thrift Shops

I don't know about yours, but our local Salvation Army and Goodwill Stores are junky, crowded, and disorganized.  There is lots of sheer junk stirred in - and there's no need to tell me that one man's trash is another man's treasure because I am a dedicated thrift shopper, but I'm complaining about broken things, half-used things, missing parts that render the object unusable. . . .  Plus, some of the items are priced disproportionately high, and then there is the rack of new clothes - cheap junk discarded from a retail store and given prominence in the thrift store because it is new. I realize I sound cranky.

I am willing to go a few miles out of my way to stop at any MCC Gift &Thrift store or any store owned and run by Mennonites or their ilk.  Here, they seem to have a limitless supply of cheerful volunteers who love to tidy up, organize, and iron.  Items are sorted by use and similarity, carefully labeled with pertinent information (the number of pieces in a set of dishes, size of tablecloth, size of clothing, etc.). Everything is so clean!  I've even seen those ladies dusting the shelves.  Their prices are low or reasonable - they have a sharp eye for the valuable stuff and they set it aside in a section, priced accordingly.

ironed and tied with a ribbon - all 4 for $.50!!
Look, here's the list of things I bought recently at an MCC Gift and Thrift store.  Everything was in perfect condition.  I am very pleased!

$2.50 - red linen tablecloth for my dining room table
$.50 - set of 4 linen napkins
$.35 and $.50 - 2 sweet hankies
$1.75 - navy Limited Too cardigan for G for school
$.75 - 2 hand-dipped gold tapers
$.25 - small glass votive cup
$.50 - 2 juice glasses
$.75 - 3 wooden hangers

$8.19 total (with tax)

I stopped by this store because I was driving to someone's house to purchase a stroller system from Craigslist (this one, for the unbelievably low price of $30!!!), so I took the opportunity to stop in a nearby thrift store with my lists in hand. I hate shopping as entertainment, but if I have items on my lists, I combine errands like this all the time.  I keep a groceries/toiletries list, as well as an other things list (currently on it: fabric for class set of birthday napkins, oil & vinegar cruets, regular mouth canning lids).

Because I'm the homemaker and I have my finger on the pulse of the household, there are some standard things I look for as well as some ideas I might check into.  All the things shown here were on my mental list.  All of these things are immediately useful and have a place in my house (I usually figure out where I'm keeping something before I bring it home - I no longer buy things for the sole reason that I love them because the love turns to loathing when the things clutter up the house waiting to be used or placed).

I think I'm going on and on about this stuff because I've sorted a mountain of baby things from storage as well as helped the children sort their rooms as we switched bedrooms around.  Anyone else share my sentiments?


Jan said...

I agree with you completely... things should only come home if there's a space in a room where they will be useful or look good. Jx

Anonymous said...

Yes.. I do, so well said... Our Salvation army is the same way. I have found some items in there, that I was proud to get, but there is so much, that is broken, unusable.[Why would anyone donate that type of stuff??]. And then it is dirty, not organized, and overpriced for what it is..
Your thriftstore sounds wonderful..

Lana said...

We are doing a huge clean out and too much of what is going was bought at thrift stores. A valuable lesson here. We love our Mennonite stores here too and for the same reasons. Our Habitat stores our fairly good and we have a Hospice store that is excellent. The store that we donate to is a Mennonite store that supports a women's shelter. It is in an area of town where many do not own cars and their shopping at thrift stores is because they are need of the basics and not just hauling junk home. That makes me happy about where and how my cast-offs go.

My list is white Correlle, a grain mill (yes, it could happen) and 50 cent clothing in smaller sizes since I am shrinking.

Jen said...

What treasures you found! I love those hangers. I also dislike shopping just because.

Sarah said...

I had never heard of these thrift stores, but just looked at their website and there are two in Hagerstown, MD about an hour and a half from where I live, so the next time I'm that direction I will have to stop in! There aren't really great thrift stores near me, but we still frequent them and when we are able, we try to go to one of the better stores about 45 minutes to an hour away. It might be sad, but we usually end up thrifting when we have a free day!

Unknown said...

We don't have any of those in Boise sadly. Our thrift stores aren't too bad here, we have Goodwill and a lot of Idaho Youth Ranch which supports a local youth program. My daughter is actually a manager at one! A few St. Vincent DePaul too. All of those stores are pretty clean and organized. I still find an occasional stained, ripped, icky item, but I'm careful...

Tammy said...

I checked your link, and the closest MCC store to me is about 100 miles away. When I was growing up in a very Mennonite-influenced area, there were several Mennonite thrift stores and we did shop in them.

Currently, I stick with Goodwill and Salvation Army. The stores in my area vary greatly but most of the Goodwill stores are pretty decently set up, and Salvation Army has periodic sales where all their clothing is $1 each. My husband lost a lot of weight (on purpose) and was able to completely purchase his winter wardrobe for around $50 (during the $1/item sale).

I don't *love* shopping at thrift stores but I have found that popping in and checking out a few racks at a time is a good way to add to my wardrobe (the $1/item sale days are usually pretty crazy, and I hate shopping under pressure).

Julian said...

A friend of mine and I drove several miles to three different value villages yesterday. In our town the Goodwill prices are too high and it's sometimes a waste of gas to go. I don't think we have Mennonite resale shops here in Texas, but they sound great!

beth s said...

Love shopping second hand. found some great deals!

AmyK said...

Was it The Main Street Closet, by any chance? My aunt runs it, and my mom, dad, sister, another aunt and father-in-law all volunteer there. If we lived closer I'd volunteer there too. I love how they have so much more variety of types of items than Goodwill. Sewing supplies, tools, etc. And yes, they are so organized and priced well. Whichever MCC thrift store it was, I'm excited you were able to find what you need. There is something so satisfying about finding good items that still have a lot of life left in them!

Laurie said...

I love when thrifting is part of a day off for me. And I've often wished that there was an MCC Gift and Thrift a little closer. And completely agree about our local Salvation Army.

BLD in MT said...

I do believe that every Salvation Army I've been to has been a bit dark and dank and packed with junk. Every Mennonite run shop has been quite the opposite. We went to one in norther Idaho that was the nicest, cleanest thrift shop I've been to. The woman there said they wash every single garment or linen before they sell it. I could tell. It smelled so clean in there. We have a fairly good Goodwill here. There is a Christian run operation--the MRM--that okay.

Margo said...

AmyK, I'm intrigued - email me at thriftathome @

jenny_o said...

I think in order to have a clean, neat thrift store with low prices, there need to be lots of hard-working volunteers (unpaid) to make it that way without going bankrupt. If the volunteers were paid for their time - even partly - costs could not be kept at the level you describe.

I know a woman who runs a second-hand clothing store. She works all the hours it's open by herself. In her free time she shops the franchised local used-clothing store for items to resell. She barely gets by.

I would rather pay more for good used items and encourage shops that sell these things - they're providing a valuable environmental service, in my view. My two cents :)

jenny_o said...

I'm not even sure what my point was there, upon re-reading!! lol

Polly said...

Can you tell I am finally catching up on my internet-reading? After a rather extensive hiatus. :)

I wish we had a MCC thrift store here! I did find a fabulous one this fall that is super cheap and reasonably tidy (housewares grouped by color, yes, I love it, as well as function). Finn and I just went there on Saturday on a date....and got lots of goodies!

But your thrift store looks like the best!