MCC thrift shop celebrates 40 years in Abbotsford

MCC Clothing Etc. Thrift Shop originally opened on July 19, 1973 in the old Clearbrook post office

Jean Friesen (red coat)

Jean Friesen (red coat)

The MCC Clothing Etc. Thrift Shop in Abbotsford celebrated its 40th anniversary on Friday, July 19.

Lily Bergen, the current manager of the shop, said there is a deep sense of commitment among staff and volunteers to the work of the Mennonite Central Committee around the world that has enabled the shop to grow to where it is now.

“I feel blessed and privileged to be part of MCC’s long-standing reputation of helping communities around the world and to be able to work with wonderful volunteers,” she said.

In the 1940s, used clothing was gathered at the MCC Material Resource Centre (then in Yarrow) and sent to people in need in war-torn Europe.

As that need diminished, MCC turned its attention to developing countries, but found that the typically warm clothing donated by Canadians was not useful to people in warmer climates.

The idea was presented to sell the used clothing and use the funds for what was truly needed overseas.

Vernon Reimer, then the executive director of MCC BC, encouraged the Women’s Auxiliary to open a thrift store for this purpose. The MCC Thrift Shop opened on July 19, 1973 in the old Clearbrook post office.

The original store quickly outgrew its space and relocated in Cedar Park Mall in 1976.  It moved again to a larger space in the same mall in 1986. The shop expanded its inventory as well, adding small appliances and housewares to the clothing and shoes already being sold.

Lydia Peters and Jean Friesen have both volunteered with MCC since the beginning and were part of the Women’s Auxiliary group that spearheaded the purchase of the MCC Plaza property at 31872 South Fraser Way, the current location of the MCC Clothing Etc.

The MCC Plaza opened in 1989 and included the thrift shop, Self Help Crafts (now known as Ten Thousand Villages) and MCC BC offices.

The thrift shop has continued to grow to the point that the offices and Ten Thousand Villages have been moved to other locations, and the Furniture and More shop has moved its sales across the street from the plaza.

The MCC Clothing Etc. hit another astounding record at the end of June.

“We had our storewide sale here at the end of June and we sold $10,000 worth of goods in one day,” Bergen said.

The MCC thrift network in BC has expanded to include 10 thrift shops across the province, sustained by 999 volunteers as well as paid staff.

These shops brought in $1.5 million last year to support MCC’s relief, development and peace work around the world, and in local communities in concert with support agencies to provide clothing and household items.

The MCC Clothing Etc. Thrift Shop will have its next storewide sale on July 26 and 27. For more information about MCC’s Thrift Shops, visit