For an organization like Winkler MCC Thrift Shop, success may look a little different than it does for a regular business.

"[Last year] was an all-around success," reported Dave Penner, board president, at the recent annual general meeting. "We were very successful financially; successful in the fact that we have lots of volunteers; and successful in the fact we continue to get good donations." 

Total revenue amounted to $946,000, which is about $150,000 higher than the previous year - and close to a record said Penner.

"Some years ago, when we were the only thrift store in town, we were about at the same level. And then two other thrift stores opened -- and that's all good. We wish them well and we work closely with them. We each seem to have our own mission that we are funding." 

Donors are valued as highly as volunteers at the thrift shop said Penner.

"We got very good donations obviously and maybe we've had extra excellent donations. Maybe in the past, we were behind in pricing. A dollar today doesn't buy what it bought 10 years ago. We had to look at that seriously and up some of the prices a bit."

Penner says in-store sales were actually $925,000, with clothing being - "as always' - the perennial big seller. 

"We have a breakdown of sales. As always, clothing comes in as the highest of sales, the women's clothing men's clothing and children's clothing together is just over $300,000." 

Speaking of another element of last year's season, Penner has nothing but praise for the staff.

"Anywhere around 300 volunteers come to spend quite a few days a month there. It's only through their continued efforts and commitment to the project that we can raise so much money. Basically, we only employ four full-time equivalent people that are paid."

Profits go towards funding Mennonite Central Committee Canada's larger projects.

"One doesn't need to look very far to know where the need is for relief, development, and peacebuilding," Penner pointed out. "All three are major concerns these days. Hard to imagine how we can even help a little bit. We sent in $450,000 to MCC. Hopefully, it helps somewhere for relief development and peacebuilding."

The MCC Thrift Shop movement was born in Altona in 1972. The Winkler location opened its doors two years later. 

"We will be celebrating 50 years of Winkler MCC Thrift Shop," said Penner. "We would like volunteers and individuals who have donated and anybody else to come and help us celebrate. We need some ideas. The board is just starting to open it up for discussion. We would like all kinds of people to come up with ideas and maybe even with some time on their hands they could donate and help organize something because it's huge! 50 years of selling, reusing products that could otherwise go into the garbage." 

A date for the celebration will be set once organizers determine a concrete plan.   

~With files from Pam Fedack~

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