Donations dwindle at secondhand stores, as consumers hang on to what they can
The recession has decreased both donations and sales at Livingwell Thrift Store in Grass Valley, but that doesn’t discourage store manager Danette Shade.
“You’d think we’d be doing good because of the economy, but people aren’t buying as much, and the quality of donations are not as good. People are hanging on to what they have,” Shade said. “But we’re going to stay in it for the long haul.”
The thrift store is associated with Livingwell Medical Clinic, which provides services to women with unplanned pregnancies; the store aims to help mothers with everything from maternity cloths to cribs, Shade said.
And while the down economy has more people passing baby goods along to friends and family, she said those donations are still coming in. It’s everything else, from clothing to small appliances, that few people are donating.
“Usually our shelves are filled,” Shade said. “Now they’re almost empty.”
Shoppers are largely the same people – from homeless people to bargain hunters – they’re just buying less, she said.
“I helped a homeless man recently who said he had soup but didn’t have anything to heat it up. I gave him a candle and a pot,” Shade said. “What’s nice is a lot of people come back when they have some money and give back.”
Other thrift stores in the area aren’t necessarily experiencing the same thing, like the Penn Valley Fire Department Auxiliary Thrift Store.
“Sales have improved, new people are coming in looking for things who weren’t coming in here before,” said Maureen Wise, manager of that store.
Penn Valley’s donations are down too, however, which Wise said was because fewer people are moving, clearing out the attics and getting rid of things they don’t need.
Shade said she has also seen people having to donate possessions when they’ve lost their homes, moving into smaller apartments.
“It’s very sad when people have to move into small apartments after owning a home for 30 years,” she said.
As a Christian organization, Shade said Livingwell employees try to offer support to both people donating or shopping during tough times.
“We’ll get people whose parents have died and they bring in all their stuff,” Shade said. “It’s sad, but we stop and take the time to talk to them or pray with them if it’s what they need, or what they want.”
To contact Staff Writer Greyson Howard, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call (530) 477-4237.
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