The Free Press, Mankato, MN

April 26, 2013

MVAC's new thrift store location open

Resting on the shelves and hanging on the racks are items that are decidedly used.

But all around those racks -- the floor, ceiling, windows -- that’s all new. Brand new.

Welcome to the fresh face of the Minnesota Valley Action Council thrift store, Again Thrift and More.

Actually, it’s not just the store that’s getting a new home. All of MVAC is migrating from their old location near Cub Foods on Madison Avenue to the former Johnson Outdoors building at Tullamore Street and Victory Drive.

Their first day of business in the new site was Friday. A grand opening will be held later.

The move gives them much more space to work; they’d been cramped in their previous quarters for several years. And introducing MVAC to the community in the new space is the thrift store.

It goes from 7,000 square feet to about 12,000, and gives them a much bigger area to sort donations. At the old site, the sorting room was tiny and created inefficiencies. Store manager Heather Condon said they often have to move items around on a daily basis so that volunteers could get to the items they’d need to sort. If a larger group of volunteers was coming in, they’d utilize the MVAC conference rooms for temporary storage.

No more. Now, eight of the previous sorting areas could fit in the new one.

In addition to storage, there is more parking, better lighting, a larger sales floor and hands-free doors.

Also, the drop-off area for donations (which is in the back and features a covered area so rain won’t soak donors) is easily accessible and will have a drop bin for after-hours donations.

“I hope we’ve made it easier to donate,” Condon said. “And we hope this location brings in more donations which, in turn, will bring in more shoppers.”

The thrift store situation in the Mankato area is a competitive one. With MVAC, MRCI, Goodwill, the Salvation Army, VINE Faith in Action and others all running thrift stores, there’s competition for not only donations but also shoppers. Condon said she hopes all the thrift stores remain successful, but she hopes the new store will bring in more revenue for MVAC because the proceeds go to its programs.

MVAC is a government-funded entity that helps people cover heating costs or other bills when they’re struggling.

The new location opening is coinciding with a new car seat recycling initiative the store is launching called Greenseats.

Car seats are made with a kind of plastic that isn’t accepted by local recycling centers. Condon has started an arrangement with McLeod County -- which does accept such plastics -- and they’re now advertising the store as a collection point for unwanted car seats.

“In this day and age? Are you kidding me?” Condon said. “We can send a guy to the moon, but we can’t recycle a car seat.”

Used car seats are not allowed to be sold at thrift stores.