Brandon’s MCC Thrift Shop is still recovering after a tiny fire last week caused a massive setback for the Pacific Avenue store.
A ceiling fan in a washroom ignited last Friday evening. While fire crews were able to put out the blaze before it spread, the smoke from melted plastics blew through the store’s ventilation system, covering nearly everything on the sales floor with soot.
Rather than closing down for several months and spending thousands of dollars to clean clothes, dishes, books and other items, an estimated 95 per cent of the store’s inventory ended up in the landfill.
“I can’t sell people clothes filled with soot,” store manager Shelly Burrows said. “For example, the cost to clean one stuffed animal is $8. I sell it for 50 cents.”
The MCC is part of a network of not-for-profit thrift shops that supports projects through the Mennonite Central Committee.
Black soot still sits atop ceiling fans and covers some shelves yet to be cleaned. The store is nearly barren, the clothing racks empty and the mannequins unclothed.
Burrows said the store kept some items that are harder to come by, including winter jackets.
“I’d rather pay (to clean them) and make sure a child is warm,” Burrows said.
The store, which relies on donated items, remains closed and won’t open again until the beginning of September.
“Unfortunately, we had to balance good versus evil and I really do think that the Brandon public and the surrounding communities are so generous ... and I am certain we’ll fill up very, very fast.”
While the small fire has forced the store’s closure, Burrows said she’s glad it happened in the summer when people are still bringing in lots of unsold items from garage sales.
Items have already poured in and volunteers were seen taking inventory in the store’s back room.
Cleanup contractors and about 50 of the store’s volunteers have spent the past week cleaning the entire store and taking inventory of salvaged and new items, but there are still several more days of cleaning ahead.
“It’s amazing how far the smoke went,” Burrows said.
The fire is covered by insurance.
Meanwhile, MCC is still hosting its Re-Cycle Free Bicycle Draw that will be announced on Aug. 25, which will also kick off a 600-kilometre bike ride for executive director Ron Janzen, who will visit MCC’s 16 thrift shops in the province between Aug. 25 and 30.
The provincewide ride will celebrate MCC’s restorative justice programming and is expected to raise more than $50,000.
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