New Thrift Store to Open in July

Brian and Mark discuss new store sign

City Mission plans to open a new Thrift Store and Donation Center in Monongahela, with a grand opening ceremony tentatively-scheduled for mid-July.  

Late, last summer City Mission closed their former Monongahela location. “It was a good building and a good location,” said Brian Johansson, City Mission’s Chief Operating Officer.  “But someone else bought the building, so we had to move out.”

But the Mission wanted to maintain its presence in the town.  “We have a good customer-base here,” Johansson added, “and I think they were sad to see us go.”

So City Mission purchased a building at 211 West Main Street just a few blocks from where the old store used to be and began renovations on their seventh Thrift Store location.  It marks the first time City Mission has purchased a building for the purpose of opening a thrift store.

Revenue generated from sales at all of City Mission’s Thrift Stores support the life-transforming programs and services at the Mission, helping to restore the homeless to independent living. The seven Thrift Stores generate about one-third of the overall yearly funds for the Mission.  Since City Mission receives no government funding, the revenue generated by the Thrift Stores helps create a sustainability plan and a consistent revenue source.  So the new Monongahela store is part of a crucial enterprise that is integral to City Mission’s work in the community.

The new City Mission Thrift Store in Monongahela is being restored. The Mission hopes to open in mid-July.

In addition to generating revenue, City Mission’s Thrift Stores also create a vital vocational training ground for the Mission’s residents.  Donated items are sent to the Mission’s warehouse on Sheffield Street, where residents work alongside staff and volunteers to sort and prepare the items to be sold in the stores.  Here, the residents learn valuable job skills like teamwork, communication, responsibility, and giving and receiving feedback.  They also earn resume-boosting certificates such as forklift operation.

Some of the residents are even helping in the renovations of the new Monongahela store to get it up and running before the Grand Opening.  “We’re trying to use as many volunteers in the renovation as possible,” Johansson explained.  

Volunteers, Bob, a retired union carpenter, and his wife, Janet, donated their time and talents to build a donation sorting room and a closet for the new HVAC unit.  They also helped to fix up a staff kitchen and bathroom.  Tom Kennedy, a retired construction project manager for UPMC, is also volunteering his time and expertise to the project.  

“Tom has great experience,” Johansson noted.  “And he offered to help us out.  He stops by to check in every week.”  Kennedy is also working with his contacts to find skilled volunteers to help with projects like replacing lights and installing security cameras.  

The building where the new store will be located was once a McCrory’s Department Store.  Since then, it was occupied by a flooring store called The Finishing Touch, and then it sat empty for three years before being purchased by the Mission.  Fifteen years ago, there was a fire that damaged much of the upstairs, but there were no structural issues for the Mission to contend with during the renovation.

Johansson noted the great potential of the Mission owning a building with so much space in the floors directly above the store.  Eventually, once repairs are completed, the upper floors could be rented as apartments or office space to generate even further revenue for the Mission’s life-changing programs.  Or they could potentially be used as housing for residents who graduate from the Mission’s program.  “There’s great potential upstairs,” Johansson suggested.  “Down the road, it could be really good for the residents.”

Already, City Mission has installed a brand-new HVAC system, created a gravel lot behind the building, just off of Railroad Street (which, according to Mark Vinoverski, City Mission’s Director of Hope Enterprises, could potentially have up to 12-14 parking spots), and built a back deck where the loading dock will eventually be located.  

Additionally, the Mission is planning to build a brand-new front entrance and a matching entrance in the back.  Improvements are also being made to the storefront. Working with the Monongahela Area Historical Society, the Mission has chosen paint colors and improvements that help maintain the historical integrity of the building. Especially appealing will be the new store sign.

“It’s going to be an old Woolworth-style sign with gold letters on a blue backdrop,” said Vinoverski.  There will be gooseneck lights shining down on the letters.  “It’s going to be a real classy sign that will hopefully add to the beauty of the building and the whole downtown area.”

There is currently a great need for volunteers at City Mission’s Thrift Stores and Donation Centers.  For more information, visit www.citymission.org or contact Sheila Namy, City Mission’s Director of Volunteers at snamy@citymission.org or 724-705-7137.

May 20, 2021
Gary Porter - Communications Manager
Gary Porter
Communications Manager
Gary has been with the mission since 2017. He writes many of our resident stories, getting to know many of them and seeing their transformations at the mission from the start.
gporter@citymission.org

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runner cross the finish line at the Mission Possible IV Run
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