This post by: Cassandra Friesen, an avid thrifter and MCC employee
Since my sister and I got our driver’s licences, thrifting has been a part of my life. Every Friday or Saturday we would hit the road and jump from thrift shop to thrift shop. Thrifting was about bonding with my sister, grabbing a cup of coffee, and finding great deals. Later, in my adult life, thrifting became less about getting a great deal (even though, a two dollar dress never hurts!) and more about what drew me to thrifting in the first place–community. I went from viewing thrifting as a time with my sister (which is still extremely valuable) to seeing the bigger picture. Now thrifting is not only about my own community, but the national and international community, sustainable living, recycling and so much more.
Many of my friends are pro-thrift, but some people ask me, “Why do you thrift?” After years of thrifting, and research I have my top ten reasons why I thrift, and why I think that you should shop at MCC thrift shops too.
Top Ten Reasons Why YOU Should Thrift at MCC Thrift Shops
10. You never know what you are going to find!
Thrift shops have a unique collection of clothing, furniture, hardware and so much more. When my husband and I bought our new house we were in need of a lot of furniture and other household items. I had recently been to Canadian Tire and saw a vacuum that I wanted, but decided it was a bit pricey. The next week I was at MCC and guess what I found? Yes, that exact vacuum, in working condition, for $8!
9. Thrifting saves you big money!
My latest money saving purchase was a pair of lululemon yoga pants. Retailing for approximately $90, I picked up a pair at MCC for just $2!
8. Thrifting is FUN!
The thrill of a great find cannot be beat! My sister and I often find things for each other (Pyrex baking dishes, for example), and almost always see a familiar face. I have even met complete strangers at thrift shops who become my thrifting buddies while we are in the shop. As I stated earlier in my post, thrifting can be a great time to bond with family or friends. But the fun doesn’t end at the shop; once you get home it is always exciting to share your finds with friends and family.
7. Items of quality
Have you noticed that quality items just don’t really exist for a fair price anymore? You can pick up a pair of well-made wood end tables at MCC and refinish them to your own taste. Which brings me to my next point…
6. Get creative!
Have you been searching for a great wardrobe or table? No problem! Find the shape that you like and refinish it. You can even try a crazy colour or bring it back to its original beauty.
Get creative with your clothing as well. Not sure if red is your color? Pick up a red dress or shirt and try it out. If it doesn’t work out you can re-donate it and you are probably only out $4 or less (which goes to a great cause, so really, you are not “out” at all).
Dinner parties are fun but can be expensive if you like to create a theme. For my wedding I bought MCC plates, tea cups and saucers and teapots for centre pieces. This greatly reduced the amount I spent on rentals and I had a great unique look for each table.
5. Original Items
So often people ask me, “Where did you get that (fill in the blank here)?” More often than not my answer is MCC! Find original clothes, art, housewares or shoes — the list goes on and on.
4. Sleep with a good conscience (Thanks to http://www.activistpost.com for this point.)
I often feel conflicted when shopping. How do I get the items that I need without negatively impacting the people who produced it? Thrifting reduces the horrendous oppression that many people experience in textile and clothing factories by not allowing businesses to continue to benefit from an exploitative system. Yes, someone else bought that labor, but by thrifting you are reducing the demand for new products. Even better, ask questions about the clothing you buy when you cannot get what you need at a thrift shop. As consumers we can make a difference.
3. Reduce your carbon footprint and garbage in landfills
On January 17, 2013 CBC ran a story with the headline, “Canadians produce more garbage than anyone else” http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/canadians-produce-more-garbage-than-anyone-else-1.1394020. This is a serious problem. By buying clothing that would otherwise go to the garbage, each individual can take a step toward reducing the amount of garbage in Canadian landfills.
This article also talks about the amount of water Canadians consume. I read recently on http://gentleworld.org that it takes 6,813.74 litres of water to grow enough cotton to make one pair of jeans! By adjusting the way we consume goods we can reduce the demand for certain items, and most importantly reduce the amount of water used in these processes.
2. Thrift shops are part of a community
The MCC on Sargent Avenue in Winnipeg, MB purchased a building that used to be a Seniors Centre. Harvey Smith, a city counsellor, was there and he thanked MCC for purchasing the building because it was still a community centre. As Harvey was talking to Ron Janzen, the executive director of MCC MB, Ron realized that the building was really still a seniors centre. Many seniors who volunteer at MCC thrift shops are engaging in healthy activities, keeping active and have a close knit social circle. To hear this story and more about the history of MCC thrift shops watch this clip from Breakfast Television.
1. Funds from MCC thrift shops support a great cause
Proceeds are used locally and globally to meet basic human needs and work for peace and justice through Mennonite Central Committee. The proceeds raised from thrift creates systemic changes and positively impacts the lives of individuals. Each purchase makes a difference, and I can’t think of a better reason to shop than that!