Emmaüs Etagnières: Celebrating 50 Years of Community Spirit

September 28, 2022

As the leaves turn shades of red and gold and there is a pleasing crispness in the morning air, it’s time for us to embark on the simple pleasures that come with the season. Traditionally, that means foraging of some description, whether harvesting in the vineyards, digging up mushrooms in the forest, or seeking out the latest pumpkin-spiced treat. For me, that means rummaging through a bunch of preloved items to adorn my apartment and boost my winter wardrobe.

Emmaüs Etagnières is a little trove of treasures, but it is more than just a second-hand store. Tucked away in a small village just 20 minutes away from the center of Lausanne, this place has more than just a good bargain on offer.

Emmaüs is an international association, present in 37 different countries, that fights against poverty and exclusion. Their fundamental mission is to help people, providing accommodation, food, and employment for those who need it.

In 1972, the Emmaüs community in Geneva bought an old mill in Etagnières, which was to become the home of this community. 50 years later, they are still there and celebrating everything they have achieved in the last half a century. The community owes its success to numerous people of all backgrounds, cultures, and means, who all believed in this unique mission.

So, what makes Emmaüs so special?

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©Emmaüs Etagnières

This place sells (almost) everything. An expanse of thrifty goodness extending over more than 1000 m2. They collect second hand items including clothes, furniture, ornaments, jewellery, books, etc. which are cleaned up and resold. Each object goes through a meticulous process of sorting, repairing, cleaning, and recycling, and sales from the store finance the association. It is a great place to witness the concept of a circular economy. Nothing goes to waste.

The Emmaüs community in Etagnières accommodates 21 people throughout the year. Les compagnons. They live and work onsite. The founder of Emmaüs, a French priest called L’abbé Pierre, did not accept that anyone should live without basic necessities. By supporting the community with your donations or your custom, you become part of the circle and are contributing directly to helping people locally.


To coordinate everything, the association employs about ten people and works with dozens of volunteers. The team support and assist the companions, manage the daily operations, sort and recycle donated items, serve customers in the store, or deliver more specific skill-based projects.

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the community, Emmaüs Etagnières are organising a celebration on Saturday 1st October 2022, from 10 am to 4 pm. You can discover what goes on “behind the scenes”, visit the sorting and recovery workshops where objects are given new life, or simply pick up a bargain. Music, entertainment, and activities will feature all day.

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