Photo: From family books, toys, clothing and games, to furniture, sporting goods and jewellery, the Thrift On Mill staff is ready to help customers find the best items for an affordable price. From left: Production Manager Cindy Lasi; volunteers Margo Carder and Susan Epp; General Manager Randy Lepp; Production Assistant Nancy Dick and volunteer Abe Epp. Photo courtesy of the Thrift on Mill.
Thrift on Mill, High-End Thrift In Leamington
During one of your summertime journeys to experience the treasures Essex County has to offer, for some unique shopping be sure to stop by the Thrift on Mill store at 58 Mill Street West in Leamington.
The shop opened its present location in February 2016. Since 1982, they were previously known as the Et Cetera Shoppe and operated from two Leamington locations under the direction of the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC). They now join a network of six other MCC Thrift Stores throughout the province.
What is the MCC you ask?
According to the Thrift on Mill website: “Since 1920, the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) has lived by our mission to impact disadvantaged people through our work in relief, development and peace. Locally, in Ontario, we work with refugee resettlement, people in poverty, indigenous and Low German communities and restorative justice. From our Kitchener warehouse, we ship material aid like health and relief kits overseas to places like Syria, Jordan and Lebanon.”
Cindy Lasi is the Production Manager of the local Thrift on Mill. It is a second career for this former nurse who says she chose to get involved with the store as a logical extension “of doing something where I can continue contributing to the community.”
Lasi is quick to point out this isn’t your average thrift store and has coined the expression “high-end thrift.”
She proudly smiles when first time shoppers’ comment they cannot believe they’re in a thrift store.
Lasi mentions they feel this way because of “our strict and high standards; everything about the store is bright, clean, organized and inviting,” adding “why should someone on a budget have to shop in a store that might be dirty, dingy and have an odour? That’s not going to help them feel better about themselves — where they’re shopping.”Lasi also dispels the notion that people should not feel guilty about shopping in a place where people of more limited means and budgets would better benefit from shopping.
She stresses, “Thrift on Mill is for everyone — all demographics — no one is excluded.”
The gently-used items they resell is quality merchandise that has been inspected and repaired, if necessary, by volunteer electricians, seamstresses, clock and watch makers, jewellers, and other qualified trades people.
Perhaps the most endearing aspect of the Thrift on Mill is its many diverse volunteers ranging from the very young, to elders in the community in their 70s and 80s. They are the heart and soul of the Thrift on Mill.
One particular elder, in her mid-80s, a lovely lady named Bertha (last name withheld), proudly creates kitchen aprons and reusable handbags for sale. And there’s a group of Mennonite women who can be observed through a large glass window in a room adjacent to the retail shop, Comfort Knotting. Since 1982 they have been knotting blankets for shipment to those in need in northern Ontario, as well as far off places like Mozambique, Jordan, Syria and India.
Be sure to visit the Thrift on Mill, right near the iconic Leamington Tomato. For more information regarding merchandise, donations, volunteering, location and hours of operation, visit their website.