News from thrift shop world

bronwynsmomAugust 1, 2008

There's been a lot of press lately about the increase in business in GoodWill stores, consignment shops, and thrift stores. The economic downturn is producing a lot of anxiety, and more people than ever before are shopping this way.

Here's the part that surprised and motivated me...

All Things Considered (NPR) did a piece this week about how these stores are in need of inventory...their stocks are lower than they have been in years, and they need things now.

If ever we needed a push to get on with our donation of nice things we aren't using, this is it. It has occurred to me that nobody needs really nice things more than those who have the fewest options.

People need us to do this, and maybe it is much easier to get up and let go when we have a clear idea that we are meeting a real need.

I'm loading boxes this very morning. How about you???

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bmom...I am really surprised by that too! When I went to the thrift shop this week to drop off some things the gal must be summer cleaning instead of spring cleaning...everyone seems to be, right now.
Maybe this is true in some areas and not others. I know this thrift shop is in a affluent area. I imagine ones in less affluent areas would be different.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2008 at 10:53AM
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Must be a regional thing... my YWCA Thrift Shop is no longer accepting anything on consignment because they are WAY overstocked.

They took my things as I donate for the tax credit.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2008 at 11:12AM
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I'd never known that thrift shops would take thing on consignment!

    Bookmark   August 1, 2008 at 1:11PM
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All I know is what my YWCA Thrift Shop does.

They also keep track of everything I donate... and the price it sells for. At years-end, I get an IRS-approved statement with the actual amount the items sold for as the amount of my charitable donation.

No guessing what something is worth.
No paperwork on my part.

I LIKE doing business with them!

    Bookmark   August 1, 2008 at 1:55PM
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They sound great!

The GoodWill and Salvation Army around here don't inspire me. I think bronwyn'smom has a good observation: "it is much easier to get up and let go when we have a clear idea that we are meeting a real need."

This is true of me. And my reluctant to give the really decent clothes to the GW or SA says a lot about how much I think those places serve people. The clothes don't seem to "move" out of the store, and they're hard to fine clothes in.

I tend to seek out other ways to send my excess clothing out into the "clothing stream."

Because I want to feel that it moves on to someone who will actually use it, and not that it sits in the GoodWill store for years.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2008 at 2:30PM
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Our Goodwill is really trashy and run down... very uninspiring!

The Salvation Army is leaps-and-bounds better; but I choose the YWCA Thrift Shop because, not only do I help them, they are helping me because of their detailed record keeping.
Their stock moves well, too, as they are in a small town with lots of foot AND car traffic. The SA is off a major 4 lane divided highway... no walkers there.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2008 at 3:01PM
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The Goodwills where I live are getting so much stuff that they don't know what to do. I seem to be in the foreclosure capital and everyone is moving and not bring most of their things as they don't know where they are going.

I have been giving my stuff away on freecycle because in this area so many people lost their jobs with no new houses being built as prices are still going down.

I put some of my DD's clothes on freecycle and got so many people that said they needed clothes for their kids because they lost their job.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2008 at 12:57AM
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I can't prove it, but I have the sense that clothing given to organizations that don't have storefronts ends up in some textile reprocessing factory, regardless of the quality.

I'm leaning more towards Freecycling things these days.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2008 at 9:17AM
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We don't have Goodwill here anymore. Our local Salvation Army has put out the word that they are understocked and badly in need of donations, but I think they contribute to the problem by leaving the donations outside in all kinds of weather. I'm not willing to add my bagged clothes to a pile that's about to get rained or snowed on.

So I was happy when the animal shelter opened a thrift shop. I donate there.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2008 at 10:30AM
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Goodwill operates as a network of 185 independent organizations in the U.S. It is unfortunate that Goodwill in other areas are not up to par. In my area the stores are brand new buildings and huge. They are clean, well maintained and organized. They all have a drive through lane to drop off items and on weekends it always has a line of cars that keeps moving through. They come right out to the car and unload it for you and give you a receipt. Everyone is polite and well groomed and wearing a t-shirt uniform. The items in the store seem to really move, including clothing. If you see something you like you cannot 'think about it' and come back later as it WILL be sold and gone.

I found out by chatting with one of the workers, that they do not put out any items that are not in pristine condition and sort the shabby items out to sell to places that buy scrap metal and rags and recycled glass. They still make money off of this, so donate everything. I suspect they have dealers come in to purchase items separately or they put valuable vintage items on ebay to fetch more money, as I never see a special area set aside in the store for such items to be displayed as featured collectables as other thrift shops do. So a Jadite mixing bowl would not be set out and priced at fifty cents nor does it end up in a special display case and priced as a vintage find at twenty dollars for collectors seeking out those rare finds. They do have *standard item pricing* though. For instance, all coffee mugs are fifty cents no matter what. I got a really cool Starbucks mega mug for the same price as all the junky ones with all the advertising on them.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2008 at 12:55PM
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In my city, the Salvation Army and Goodwill stores are pretty dumpy. Donations are all dropped off in piles outside the doors. Things are dirty. They are just not well-run.

The place to drop-off and shop in my city is the local homeless mission. The entire facility runs off cash donations, food donations, and revenue from their own thrift stores.

Nice things get taken to the mission. They will sometimes do consignment, but that's not the norm and it's only a few of the nicer furniture or jewelery items once in a while. I would guess the Mission's revenue from consignment items has to be pretty reasonable up front to make up for the time & effort to keep track of customers and dividing up the money.

They also take nicer donations and do monthly silent auctions in an attempt to get top dollar for things of value.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2008 at 1:42PM
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Clothing doesn't go to textile reprocessing, it goes to the 3rd world.

Here is a link that might be useful: How Susie Bayer's T-Shirt Ended Up on Yusuf Mama's Back

    Bookmark   August 3, 2008 at 3:00PM
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Yes a lot of it does. There was a documentary on tv about this a long time ago. That was a very informative, well written and well researched article. Thanks for posting the link ideefixe.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2008 at 4:30PM
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I also read somewhere that donations of clothing from the "First World" will actually suppress economic development in the "Third World" because it removes the market for locally produced textiles, and textile industries are one of the best ways to create jobs in those areas.

I think it's clear that the main point bronwynsmom made--that when we feel our stuff is going somewhere it's genuinely needed and will genuinely be used, we are more likely to donate--is really true.

And unfort. the solution for one person won't be that useful for someone else. Rats!

    Bookmark   August 3, 2008 at 6:09PM
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