Charitable donations

Why are some charities clueless about running a good thrift store?

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2009

A number of readers have called me snobby and elitist for saying so, but why do thrift stores continue to get away with dirty floors and dressing rooms, crappy merchandise and smelly stores? I don’t care how poor a person is, it’s just human nature to prefer shopping in  a clean, well-lit place that doesn’t stink. Are there really that many people, employed or unemployed, who prefer to sift through broken knickknacks, defective small appliances and stained clothing in search of a rare item of value that they can brag about?

For-profit thrift stores such as Unique Thrift in the Twin Cities get it. The employees keep the store and shelves clean and tidy. Prices might be slightly higher than Salvation Army, but customers don’t have to waste time digging for their size because all clothing is sized at Unique. I’m appalled that the management at Salvation Army in Minneapolis’ warehouse district allows dirty floors, merchandise clutter, and bad smells to continue on a daily basis.

It seems to me that if charities cleaned up their act and ran their stores like a business, they would become more profitable. Those profits could then be poured back into the cause, a win-win for all. And since so many workers at thrift stores are volunteers, they wouldn’t be adding a lot of expense.

There must be something I’m missing here. Board members, charitable executives, thrifters, my lines are open.

Where to donate those items that most charities shun

Tuesday, December 9th, 2008

One of the many good pieces of information on is the “Donating Autos and Other Goods” section. Could I name another charity that takes auto donations besides the Courage Center? No, but SmartGivers can name 86 of them. Even better, the site tells readers where to donate major appliances and office furniture. Whay is that valuable? Just try getting rid of a washer and dryer or a file cabinet through most charities. They don’t accept them. The site also tells which charities will pick up these items from your home.

While you’re searching, check out the standards of your favorite charity. Let me know if there are items for donation that no charity wants, unless of course it’s old, dilapidated and in poor condition. There’s a point at which we all have to take responsibility for our own trash.