MCC Photo

Heather Stuart, Port Thrift Shop Manager (left) and Joanne Augustine, Assistant Manager (right) process donations at a sorting table in the new addition. 

Port Thrift Shop, located at 12 Charlotte Street in Port Colborne, is pleased to announce the most significant investment to date in its remarkable 35-year history – a $350,000 addition to provide increased space for sorting, preparation, and storage, and a more convenient drop-off experience for donors. While this additional 1,000 square feet of space will be mainly invisible to our shoppers, it is an integral part of keeping the shelves stocked with good quality, used items at affordable prices. It is essential to Port Thrift Shop’s plans for continued growth in safer and more efficient surroundings.      

Port Thrift Shop has earned a reputation as a warm, inviting experience. Together with its sister shop, New to You Thrift in Welland, they form part of the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) network of over 100 shops across Canada and the United States. Collectively, the MCC Thrift network raised $19.7 million in support of MCC’s relief, development and peace efforts in Ontario and around the world in fiscal 2019 while also providing low-cost, gently used goods to many customers and local aid agencies, and diverting large quantities of goods from landfills.

“This expansion will increase capacity for relief, development and peace initiatives in Ontario and around the world”, said John Head, Executive Director of MCC Ontario. “We greatly value our partnership with the Port Thrift Shop.”

“The expansion was a major decision for Port Thrift Shop’s volunteer board and was several years in the making,” explained Port Thrift board chair John Williams, “several options were investigated including   renovating the basement, installing a freight elevator, and purchasing a neighbouring building. We eventually settled on a 12 x 80 foot addition across the entire length of the building”.

Once a decision was made, but before a shovel went in the ground, staff and volunteers developed designs, obtained permits and quotes and arranged financing.

The construction itself presented some unique challenges. For example, the shop sits on land excavated during construction of the nearby Welland canal. As it is prone to settling, the pilings to support the addition were sunk 20 feet to sit on bedrock. Construction began in February, and after a six-week COVID-19 interruption, was completed in August on-time and on-budget. “Staff and volunteers did an incredible job continuing to operate the shop while contending with the noise and dust of a major construction project, while also adapting to all the new COVID protocols.” Said John.

Port Thrift is looking forward to continuing its tradition of serving the local community, and supporting local and world-wide relief, development and peace initiatives for decades to come. This new addition is a major milestone towards meeting this commitment efficiently, safely, and in a more pleasant setting.