Do you know about MCC Connections Thrift Shop? Located in Kidron next to Central Christian High School, “MCC” (as the locals call it) is so much more than a thrift store. MCC’s motto is “Where every bargain is a product of hope and every purchase a gift to the world.” I recently caught up with MCC Director Virgil Troyer to tour the 20,000 facility, including the large receiving and staging area, retail space, and especially unique, the quilting and denim rug weaving area. Troyer has been employed at MCC as its director for 5 years having previously worked for the Mennonite Central Committee in Honduras and more recently in risk-management at a local hospital. Retail was a new foray for him, but is the perfect combination of his passion for missions and gift for organizational management.
MCC opened in 2001 at its bright, well-appointed facility which includes 8,700 square feet of retail space and over 11,000 square feet of warehouse and storage space. Staffed by an army of 350 volunteers and 4 paid staff members, MCC is brightly-lit, organized, clean and fresh. Its shelves are well stocked, its clothing, household and decorative items are seasonally appropriate and the inventory is replenished daily. Items that are not placed for sale are recycled and re-purposed, all for the benefit of international and local missions of the Mennonite Central Committee. Last year the store had over $1 million in sales, the majority of which went to provide aid and assistance to those in need in over 50 countries as well as a tithe that was used for matching grants for local service projects to organizations and churches. MCC is independently operated by a local governing board, but is also part of a network of over 100 other thrift stores benefitting the missions of the Mennonite Central Committee in the US in Canada. Locally, other network stores are located in Millersburg (Save and Serve) and Hartville as well as Archbold and Bluffton, also in Ohio. The stores work cooperatively with one another and provide much of the funding to the Mennonite Central Committee for its global mission work.
It all starts with the well-trained back room volunteers, each of whom has a specific, designated area of work. These front liners take in the donated items, often meeting donors at their vehicles to assist with unloading, sort and organize the items for sale and other use by MCC. Troyer remarked, “The volunteers are a wily bunch - they know when something is special and set it aside to be included in our silent auction or sold online.” Volunteers count puzzle pieces and make sure that the board games are intact before placing them for sale. Appliances, sewing machines and other electronics are checked to make sure that they are in working order before they are placed out on the floor for sale. Nothing goes to waste at MCC - cardboard is recycled and sold, unusable clothing is bundled and sold to a wholesaler, glass, plastic and other items are recycled as well. In addition to the items sold in the retail and online stores, school and hygiene packs are put together for distribution in third-world countries. The volunteers work together like a well-oiled machine - everything is orderly, everyone has an assigned task and area of responsibility and the use of space is efficient and well organized.
The store stocks traditional thrift store fare - clothing, housewares, furniture, books, tools, equipment and craft items. Everything from wedding dresses to houseplants, dishes to sewing machines can be found at MCC. There are also cases containing “unique and antique” items that are offered for sale through the store’s 3-week silent auction process. Clothing is priced with color-coded tags to keep the inventory moving. There is even an end-of-the-line 25¢ rack of clothing as well as regular specials and deals. Today and tomorrow (Oct. 6 and 7, 2017) all books are $.50. The front entrance features a display of decorative items that are changed regularly with holidays and seasons.
What makes MCC particularly special, however, are the on-site made quilts and denim rugs. At any given time, there are at least 4 quilts in progress in the well-lit crafting area. Groups of local quilters, many Amish or Mennonite, come in to the store to spend several hours hand quilting in the old style. Most of the quilts are sent to the Mennonite Relief Sale for auction each summer. Last year, MCC sent 25 quilts to the sale. Additionally, some of the hand-quilted quilts are sold in the store, in addition to the dozens of knotted patchwork quilts that are always available for sale. There is also a special loom for weaving the denim rugs sold at the store. Many of the donated blue jeans are cut into strips by using the special tools, sewn together and woven into beautiful rugs. The pictures below feature the volunteer men who cut and trim the denim strips for the rugs and a volunteer weaver as well as an Amish group that came to quilt and another volunteer trimming patchwork knotted quilts. Two sewing machines and two sergers are set up for volunteers to come and piece together quilts and denim rug strips. Shoppers are encouraged to look around the crafting area at the in-progress quilts and rugs.
Christmas is a special time at MCC. Christmas themed items are stashed away all year in various parts of the warehouse in preparation for the Christmas blitz that takes place in November each year. The store closes the Wednesday before the big sale and Troyer indicated that it was all hands on deck as the volunteers prepare the store and staging areas in the back for the Christmas sale. MCC aficionados know that this is a sale not to miss and will come early and stand in line outside before the store opens. The 3-day sale generated over $30,000 in sales last year - over $16,000 in its first day alone. Intake Coordinator Mike Noel assured me that this year’s sale will be even better - over 120 artificial trees, dozens of Christmas and winter wreaths, ornaments, decorations, clothing, and other Christmas-themed items will saturate the shop for this big event. This year the sale will be held Thursday, Nov. 9 - Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017.
Thrift store junkies, antiquers, and regular shoppers alike will certainly find something of interest in this unique, eclectic store. MCC is located at 4080 Kidron Rd., Kidron, Ohio and is open Monday - Friday 9 am - 5 pm, Thursdays 9 am to 8 pm and Saturdays 9 am - 4 pm and is closed on Sundays.