Caring and Sharing for 42 Years

Discover Stouffville Blog

The dream of Stouffville’s first thrift shop started with three Mennonite women who had no interest in thrift shops.

The year was 1972. Irene Steiner, Esther Reesor and Stella Reesor were sales representatives of Self Help Crafts, the world’s first fair trade handicraft enterprise (which would eventually become Ten Thousand Villages). Self Help was an initiative of the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC), a relief, development and peace organization that had a number of interesting ‘spin-off’ projects growing within Canada, including MCC’s first thrift shop in Altona, Manitoba, followed shortly by MCC first Ontario thrift shop in St. Catharines. Irene, perhaps inspired by these thrift shops, approached MCC in the late 70s to start their own thrift shop in Stouffville.

[This is the original Care & Share building with Self Help and MCC branding. MCC photo]

After getting support from MCC, over a year was needed to fundraise the capital to purchase the first building by securing loans, grants and donations from banks and churches. After much preparation and work, the first store opened on October 20, 1981 at 6280 Main Street, Stouffville, in the old Wilkes Clothing store. They made $1,000 on their first day. Irene Steiner named the store “Care & Share Thrift Shoppe,” a name it still carries to this day.

By 1990, the shop had hit its stride. Irene Steiner and Esther Reesor were volunteer co-managers for the first decade. Donations were flowing in steadily from generous donors, and sales were strong thanks to generous shoppers seeking great prices that supported an excellent cause. That year, Care & Share forwarded $105,000 to MCC for their relief, development and peace work in Ontario and around the world.

[This is the grand opening in 2002 of the second location at the old Stouffville Public Library building. MCC photo.]

In 2001, Care & Share hired Annette Reesor Steiner as its first full-time salaried manager. In 2002, Care & Share finally outgrew its original store, moving down the street to lease the old Stouffville Public Library building. With continuously increasing sales and the need for more space, they moved again in 2013 to their current location at 33 Ringwood Drive. Through all these transitions, they’ve hung on to the same phone number: (905) 640-1410.

Today, Care & Share is led by a board of directors made up of members of its supporting area churches: Heise Hill Brethren in Christ, Steeles Ave. Mennonite, Hagerman Mennonite, Stouffville Missionary Church, Wideman Mennonite, Markham Missionary, Gormley Missionary, Cedar Grove Mennonite, Markham-Waterloo Mennonite and Oak Ridges Brethren in Christ.

[Christian Canizares is one of many students who have taken advantage of the volunteer opportunities at Care & Share Thrift Shop. MCC photo/Ken Ogasawara]

The same passion for providing affordable goods that supports vulnerable people around the world and reduces waste–a “win-win-win”–is stronger today than ever. Last year, with over 180 volunteers actively supporting the work, Care & Share is making a huge impact in Stouffville–and around the world.

Care & Share is open Monday–Saturday from 10–5 p.m., and it is open late Thursday and Friday until 8 p.m. Volunteer opportunities are also available!


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