Staff and volunteers at The Depot thrift shop presenting a $1 million check. Staff and volunteers at The Depot thrift shop presenting a $1 million check.

Depot MCC Thrift Shops donates $1 million to MCC in 2023

Thrift shop in Goshen, Indiana, has grown significantly since 1975

Story by Jennifer Steiner

February 15, 2024

The Depot MCC Thrift Shops in Goshen has been a fixture of the community for over 48 years. The Depot offers a place for residents to purchase quality, used items at reasonable prices. The thrift shop also plays an important role in raising funds to support Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) and its work around the world.

The Depot hit a milestone in December of this past year when it reached the $1 million mark of donations to MCC in 2023.

Two women shopping in the clothing aisles of a thrift shop.
Joy Detweiler and Chlo Ann Stalter browse the clothing department of the Depot MCC Thrift Shops. (MCC Photo/Joy Liechty Yoder)

History of The Depot

The original Goshen MCC thrift shop was founded in 1975 by a group of women from College Mennonite Church in Goshen. First named MCC Self-Help and Thrift Shop, it was located in Peddlers Village. The first year the thrift shop made a profit was in 1981 when it was able to donate $6,500 to MCC.

In the 1990s, there was a need for more space in the Goshen community for MCC projects, which resulted in the purchase and remodeling of the rundown old depot building, adjacent to the Old Bag Factory in Goshen. The original intent was for MCC meat canning, and a material resources center was added to process kits and comforters collected from the community for MCC.

In 1994, the thrift shop was also invited into the space and opened as “The Whistlestop” in March, occupying 7,000 square feet of the building.

The outside of The Depot thrift shop in Goshen, IN.
The Depot MCC Thrift Shops are currently located in the old depot building adjacent to the Old Bag Factory in Goshen. (MCC Photo/Joy Liechty Yoder)

“Over the years the thrift shop grew, now occupying 20,000 square feet of retail space with another 20,000 square feet of warehouse and processing space,” explains Galen Kauffmann, manager of The Depot. “Back in 2018 we were able to give $500,000 to MCC, and at that point we started dreaming of the possibility of reaching a point where we could give $1 million. That was the goal that has driven our remarkable growth over the past six years.”

Since its inception, the Depot MCC Thrift Shops and its predecessors have given over $6 million to MCC, but 2023 was the first year that $1 million was donated in a single year.

Significance of the $1 million for MCC

The $1 million donation makes a huge difference in supporting MCC’s relief, development and peace work in 45 countries, according to Joy Liechty Yoder, thrift shops coordinator for MCC Great Lakes.

“Each of the donated items that sell for 50-cents to $5 really add up,” said Yoder. “This gift - along with the other $27 million dollars raised by MCC Thrift Shops in the U.S. and Canada - is an important source of funding for MCC and translates into making a real difference in people’s lives,” said Yoder.

The glassware section of The Depot Thrift Shop.
Staff and volunteers work hard to create an inviting and welcoming shopping experience at the Depot MCC Thrift Shops. (MCC Photo/Joy Liechty Yoder)

Last year over 55,000 people gained access to a clean water source in their community, so they don’t need to spend hours walking to collect water. MCC provided education to over 19,000 children, food assistance to over 200,000 people and peacebuilding training to over 30,000 people.

Thrift shop operations

The Depot is separated into three different thrift shop departments – furniture, home goods and clothing. Staff and volunteers work hard to create an inviting and welcoming shopping experience.

According to Kauffmann, clothing is by far the highest selling item, followed by household goods and variety items. Other big sellers are small furniture, hardware, electronics and sporting goods.

“Many people frequent the Depot, some on a daily basis, to find quality used items at a reasonable price,” said Yoder. “Many have stated that it’s their favorite place to shop in Goshen.”

Volunteers are a vital part of the thrift shop operations. “The Depot couldn’t function without volunteers,” says Kauffmann. “Volunteers are active in every aspect of the work of the Depot from receiving donations, sorting, cleaning, fixing, pricing, stocking the shelves and cashiering.  There are currently around 450 volunteers. Some work a couple hours a month, and some are here every day.”

Two women chatting while volunteering at The Depot Thrift Shop.
Volunteer Judy Beachy checks out customer Joy Detweiler at the cash register in the Depot MCC Thrift Shops. (MCC photo/Joy Liechty Yoder)

Relying on donations from the community, the thrift shop plays an important role in MCC’s environmental mission to care for creation by reducing waste and giving items new life.

Along with the thrift shop, The Depot building also houses the MCC Great Lakes regional office.

As Kauffmann looks to future, he hopes to some day have a bigger store with more retail space, more processing space and a much bigger parking lot to accommodate all the shoppers.