Payoff for castoffs
Thrift shops raised $4.9 million last year, but that’s only one of the benefitsBy Ed Nyce Mennonite Central Committee
Raber added: “Little is much when God is in it.”
Volunteers are vital to the shops’ profitability.
“Not having volunteers would make a big dent in what we contribute to MCC,” said Connie Freyenberger, manager of Crowded Closet in Iowa City, Iowa.
Crowded Closet has two full-time and two part-time employees and 250 volunteers, said Freyenberger. Et Cetera Shop in Bluffton, Ohio, has one three-quarter-time employee and 150 volunteers, according to manager Chrissy Lugibihl. Such paid staff-to-volunteer ratios are common in the thrift shops.
Volunteers help out in a variety of ways. They price clothing, stock racks or shelves, do some sorting of goods and serve as clerks. Some have volunteered for more than 30 years.
Miller said MCC conducts trainings for volunteers and managers. These trainings focus on shop operations, consumer safety, customer service and more.
While doing their work, volunteers often provide a form of community for each other and sometimes for customers as well. At the Et Cetera Shop, Lugibihl observes that volunteering fills a social need.
At Crowded Closet, people — volunteers, customers, staff — leave requests in a prayer box that is always available.
“It gets used a lot,” Freyenberger said. Staff and volunteers have a time of prayer each morning, mentioning the written requests and each person in the circle.
Deb King, general manager of Gift & Thrift in Harrisonburg, Va., tells of one woman who dropped by whether or not she wanted to purchase something.
King remembers that the women said: “My husband was dying, and I used to come in here once in awhile just so I could hear women laughing and know something is right in the world.”
Comment on the article Payoff for castoffs
Please keep comments civil. MWR editors reserve the right to remove any comment. When posting a comment, you agree to the MWR Comments Policy. Name and comment will be posted; commenters are strongly encouraged to give their full name. Email address is for follow-up only and will not be made public.