For shoppers looking for a good deal or an interesting thrift item in Abbotsford, many turn to the MCC Thrift Stores. Yet the Mennonite Central Committee does a great deal more than find new homes for used things – it focuses on relief, development and peace around the world.
A new complex stands on Gladys Avenue, bringing together the stores into a 35,000-sq.ft. area for the thrift shops alone, along with a new cafe, a Ten Thousand Villages outlet, material resource recovery, a community quilting room and more in the 800,000-sq.ft. facility.
The MCC Centre is part of a vision to bring together several different aspects of its operations in one location on about five acres of their eight-acre site.
Under construction on the remaining property is another commercial building, which will rent space to raise funds to support the future of MCC. That building is not being built with donations, but is a business venture explained Gerd Bartel, communications and donor relations.
“The whole reason to do this is to help the poorest of the poor,” said Bartel.
The thrift store on South Fraser Way at Countess Street will continue to operate, as MCC owns the building, but the furniture store at Countess as well as a store formerly located off of Abbotsford Way have been consolidated in the new building to eliminate the cost of renting those facilities. The thrift stores had expanded into leased space with a basic rent cost of $350,000. By owning the building, those funds can be used to pay off the new site, explained Bartel.
The cost was $19 million for the land and the building, with $3 million coming from the sale of two properties, and a further $1 million from a building fund. MCC started a capital campaign for $15 million to cover the project, and about $11 million has already been raised.
MCC estimates it will save $10 million in lease payments over 20 years, as well as achieving $29 million in additional net income from the thrift stores. The new outlet has more space both for display and the back shop and includes new features such as a heat chamber that eliminates potential pests such as bed bugs in donations.
The Common Ground Cafe is intended to be a meeting place for the community, said Wayne Bremner, executive director of MCC BC. He said it’s also a place to promote MCC, and the proceeds will go to support the work.
Ten Thousand Villages is a non-profit program of MCC, which creates opportunities for artisans in developing countries to earn income by selling fairly priced wares out of the stores.
MCC runs a variety of programs overseas, providing aid to other countries by supporting those working on the ground, reaching areas in Africa, the Middle East and other regions around the world.
Bremner said the work doesn’t change with the new centre – the commitment remains to relief, development and peace.
And while MCC is known for helping those overseas, they are also investing efforts into assisting people locally.
Ron Van Wyk, associate executive director, said the MCC rent bank serves the Fraser Valley region by providing rent assistance for those who are potentially facing homelessness. MCC is also working with other local service providers to find ways to deal with homelessness.
MCC runs an anti-abuse program for those experiencing abuse, helping to ensure safety and helping them respond so they do not remain victims. Another program, called Home Improvement, is for men who voluntarily acknowledge they have an issue with abuse and misuse of power at home.
For the work that MCC does around the world and locally, volunteers are key to keeping costs low and allowing more funds to go to those in need.
MCC is always looking for more people to help out, and Bartel said they are thankful to those who help, because “the reason we can do this is because of volunteers.”
A grand opening celebration will be held Saturday, Dec. 6 at 11 a.m. For more information on MCC, visit mcccanada.ca.
Above photo: Wayne Bremner, Susan Beachy and Ron Van Wyk stand inside the new MCC Centre.