It’s a few years away, but the Newton Et Cetera Shop is already looking toward a milestone birthday.
The thrift store at 619 N. Main Street in downtown Newton will turn 50 in 2026, and its board of directors is aiming their five-year plan, formally approved in November 2019, at that auspicious date.
The store’s "big news is that we’re expanding to the north by purchasing 625 N. Main, the former Ten Thousand Villages space [currently home of Gathered Goods]," said Newton Et Cetera Shop board chair John Oyer.
The Building Improvement Team, a committee of volunteers and employees, is looking to enlarge the store’s retail space.
The plan is to connect both buildings, using the new space for a "home goods store" (furniture, electronics, wall art, linens, ect.) and reconfiguring the current retail space to "expand the clothing department with a boutique area, and to completely rework the sales floor to make it feel fresh," said Building Improvement Team member Cindy Epp.
A new donations receiving zone will take shape at the rear of the new building. This would give more space in the original store building to improve donation sorting and processing, and create a safer, more inviting work area for employees and volunteers.
Accomplishing all this will require extra fundraising well above what the store brings in.
Looking to the future, the Newton Et Cetera Shop has settled on "Expanding our Place in the Community" as the name of its capital campaign.
On Tuesday, April 7, the store will host a community event in the commons area of the Santa Fe 5/6 Center. "We’ll share updates on our expansion and our new vision and strategic priorities," general manager Sara Dick said. There will be refreshments and entertainment as well.
On Saturday, May 2, there will be a fundraiser event at the store. It’s still in the planning stages, but a special auction and live music are in the works.
However, the store can already accept donations online toward the expenses of the building purchase and renovation of both structures.
As approved by the store’s board Nov. 19, 2019, the shop’s new vision is "to share God’s love with all creation—inside our thrift shop, in the local community and around the world" or, in Spanish, "compartir el amor de Dios con toda la creación—dentro de nuestra tienda de segunda mano, en la comunidad local y alrededor del mundo."
The board set priorities for the next five years, which the store expansion is intended to address: increasing "visibility as a thriving community partner and employer"; increasing "efforts to practice stewardship, sustainability and care for the earth’s resources"; and becoming "a safer place to work, shop and volunteer."
The store gave away almost $200,000 in 2019. Mennonite Central Committee, a worldwide relief and service organization with an office in North Newton, receives 90% of the store’s proceeds, with the other 10% going to Local Giving Grants for community nonprofits’ work.
In 2019, those grants were awarded to Chisholm Middle School, Community Playschool, Goessel Area Mennonite Churches, Mobility Worldwide, New Jerusalem Missions, Peace Connections, Safehope and Tabor Mennonite Church Food Pantry.
"As the Newton Et Cetera Shop approaches its 50th birthday in 2026, we are eager to clarify and renew our identity for our second half-century of work," the board statement said.