A staple in the community will be getting some upgrades to better serve its customers. In January, the MCC Thrift & Gift in Elmira will be closing for renovations lasting three months.
The work is expected to get underway January 20 and run into April.
“We’ve determined that it’s time within this building to make some renovations to update and we had some [accessibility] situations that we needed to look after. So we’re going to take the advantage and do all of that at one time,” said general manager Debbie Siertsema.
While MCC did look at moving to another location in Elmira, renovating turned out to be the best option, Siertsema said.
“We obviously don’t want to leave town. We wanted to find a space here in town, and we’re not being successful. So this was the best way for us to ensure that we we’re up to date for shopping and accessibility. It was time to maybe just change this up,” she added.
There will be a number of changes at the building that was once home to the Stone Crock restaurant, including making the entrance, change rooms and washrooms more accessible. This will allow the store to serve a wider range of customers, and “make sure that they’re comfortable in our space as well,” Siertsema noted.
Other changes will include removing the interior walls while leaving the support poles, closing in some of the windows and installing LED lighting. The heating and air conditioning systems will be upgraded, as will the children’s area. The basement and processing area will be upgraded to allow volunteers and staff to work more effectively.
It is a massive undertaking, Siertsema explained
“[We’re] trying to get our head around the whole big picture of it has really been interesting. But we know that our community will support us.”
While the store will lose three months’ worth of revenue, that is the time of year when it experiences its lowest sales volumes. The store will continue to collect donations at a yet-to-be-determined location.
These changes will help make it feel like “a great retail shop that people want to come to,” said Siertsema.
“We’re currently talking about how we’re going to change up the layout, but we haven’t locked in on anything yet. It will look different. That’s [something] our customers are very used to during COVID – we’ve had to change so many things. It’s just great that they’re so resilient to continue to come back and experience our store with the changes that we’ve had to do throughout this time period,” she said.
It will also help the store feel like its own space, as the location which it has been in since 2004 has previously been home to other businesses.
“We’ve been talking about that for a while trying to figure out how to just do one piece at a time. But there’s a lot that needs to be refreshed here considering this used to be a chicken hatchery, a Zehrs market and a restaurant before it became ours. We’ve been working in other people’s space for a number of years,”
Shopping has changed a lot in that time, Siertsema noted.
“The number of stores that have popped up in different styles, and with Facebook marketplace and all of those places, they’re all things that I hate to say compete against, but we do have people who there are other places for people to go and we want this to be their first thought.”
MCC Thrift Elmira does have a loyal customer base, however, Siertsema explained.
“We also have a number of people who are coming in and saying, ‘This is my first time here’ and they’ll come from Hamilton. Maybe they’re visiting family here, which is great. And the family will bring them in for an afternoon of search and adventure. But that’s the nice thing, I hear a lot of ‘this is my first time in’ or ‘this is my favourite store.’ We like to hear both of those,” she said.