By Julie Birkey
Crowded Closet Marketing Director
In 1978, a small group of visionary Mennonite women started a thrift shop in Iowa City, Iowa, offering lightly-used clothing and household items. With the support of sixteen area Mennonite churches and hundreds of local volunteers, Crowded Closet has experienced steady growth over the last 40 years, moving three times to accommodate growth.
Last month, Crowded Closet Thrift Shop relocated to a new, larger facility at 851 Hwy 6, Iowa City, its fourth location. The board, staff, volunteers and supporting area churches gathered to celebrate the new shop home with an open house and special dedication ceremony Sunday, March 24th. Doors opened to the public the following day with a grand opening celebration including a ribbon cutting, live music and prizes welcoming shoppers to the expanded retail space.
The new facility, part of a former Kmart location, enhances and improves accessibility for customers and donors. The retail floor is about fifty percent larger at 22,000 square feet with wider aisles and wheelchair accessibility, and a new covered drive-thru lane makes donating easy.
Crowded Closet Thrift Shop is a community non-profit thrift shop, including a gift shop with fair trade items. A group of ten full and part-time staff and over 300 regular volunteers serve to offer a wide variety of household and other items, including books, toys, clothing for all ages, vintage, international, and one of a kind items. Together with countless donors and shoppers, Crowded Closet makes a generous impact on the community and world having achieved 8 million dollars in giving to support local and global relief through Mennonite Central Committee (MCC). This includes more than $50,000 in resources shared annually through partnership with local helping agencies such as CommUnity, an organization based in Iowa City that provides immediate support for individuals facing emotional, food, or financial crisis. Crowded Closet is part of the MCC Thrift Shop network.