Case Studies Article

Mission Thrift Store: Spreading Kindness, One Gift Card at a Time with Paystone Loyalty and Gift Card Programs

Author: Zakry Chami

“One of the most important things about processing returns is keeping that money in-store. Issuing store credits on gift cards is huge for us because we can easily keep track of them — plus the cards bring customers back to spend more.” 

- Ed Crowell
Manager, Mission Thrift Store Cranbrook

About Mission Thrift Store
Mission Thrift Store is a volunteer-driven, non-denominational Christian organization that operates more than 50 thrift stores across Canada. It provides used goods in a department store-like experience for value-conscious shoppers and its net revenue is devoted to supporting leadership and literacy programs in over 43 countries.


For charitable organizations like Mission Thrift Store, a volunteer-driven chain with over 50 stores across Canada, generating revenue isn’t a question of profit: it’s the only way they can support their philanthropic vocation. Faced with issues that affect many retailers, such as losing money to merchandise returns and not offering the modern gifting and reward methods that consumers expect, five of the organization’s locations turned to Paystone to launch an automated gift card solution.


Less Refunds, More Revenue

According to Ed Crowell, manager at Mission Thrift Store Cranbrook, for the organization to be able to devote its net revenue to charitable foundations, it has to maintain a stable cash flow. But every piece of merchandise that’s returned by a customer chips away at the store’s bottom line.

When Crowell was introduced to the Paystone platform, he realized that staff could process refunds by loading store credits onto gift cards instead of reimbursing customers directly. Management can now also keep track of issued gift cards on Paystone’s online hub, which comes complete with a results dashboard and detailed reports.


Getting the Word out for Greater Brand Awareness

Processing returns more effectively isn’t all that’s come of Mission Thrift Store Cranbrook’s new gift card program: the organisation can now also support its local ministry by donating funds through gift cards instead of cheques. According to Crowell, both donor and receiver profit from this, as prepaid cards are more financially feasible for the organization, and many ministries prefer to distribute gift cards to the community instead of cash.

Being able to keep track of gift cards and reload them has also allowed the Cranbrook branch to reward its dedicated volunteers by loading appreciation payouts onto gift cards each month. As Crowell explains, volunteers aren’t the only ones reaping the benefits of this incentive:

 “Many volunteers reload their gift cards and give them to friends and family, who in turn come to our store. This allows us to reach new customers and generate more cash flow.”

At Mission Thrift Store Lethbridge, manager Marlene Braack adopted the Paystone gift card platform to meet consumer demand. 

“Customers kept asking if we had gift cards, so we had to find a solution,” says Braack. “We like that Paystone’s cards are reloadable. It’s a feature that we use quite a lot for our customers and volunteers.”

Reloading shoppers’ gift cards is an effective way for retailers to not only save money on cards but also identify repeat customers.


Bigger Network, Bigger Returns

Five Mission Thrift Store locations across Canada were able to easily begin selling gift cards through their Paystone programs, in large part thanks to the software’s compatibility with their existing Secure Retail point-of-sale (POS) system. At the Cranbrook location, Crowell recalls, the setup was so efficient that it had no impact on volunteers or in-store operations.

The store manager believes that Paystone’s gift card software offers exciting revenue potential for the thrift store chain, especially if customers could use their cards at any location across the country.

“The Mission Thrift Store brand as a whole would greatly benefit from partnering with Paystone: I know that we would see bigger returns if more or all locations took part in a single gift card program,” says Crowell.