Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Dispelling Thrift Store Myths

I can’t count the times I’ve heard, “Thrift stores only want poor people shopping their stores. When you’re not poor and shop thrift, you’re robbing poor people of items they need.” Those words never set right with me and sound so utterly snobbish.

Though charitable thrift stores serve many needs, it seems to me their primary purpose is to make money to fund valuable programs that support the organization's mission. How about this? The more people that donate and shop at thrift stores, the healthier the profits! And can shopping be any more poetic? Profits from the sale of re-purposed products re-purposing lives? I love that!

I touched base with Goodwill Denver and follows is their response:

“Goodwill welcomes all shoppers to its 18 stores across the metro Denver area,” said Tim Welker, Goodwill Industries of Denver president and CEO. “We see everyone from the thrifty, penny-wise shopper to the urban hipster looking for unique finds to the green-conscious individual trying to reuse and repurpose goods to keep them out of the landfill. Plus, when you shop and donate to Goodwill Industries of Denver you are changing lives through education and employment options for at-risk youth, and disabled and disadvantaged adults in our community.”

Amen! So, there it is, Goodwill Denver wants your business, no matter what your IRS classification may be. I’ll be checking in with other Denver charitable thrifts for their comments too. I doubt they’ll be any different.

Now in a former life, I worked as a marketer/event planner for The Lincoln Park Zoo in downtown Chicago. This Zoo is one of the last free zoos in the country. Chicago’s elite, the McCormick’s, Pritzker’s, Regenstein’s, Brach’s and Kovler’s visited that zoo as did Chicago’s homeless. Not certain if they still do, but in the winter, the homeless often hung out in the Great Ape house to watch over Dr. Lester Fisher’s famous Western Lowland Gorilla troops to take a break from the brutal wind and Lake Michigan’s near chronic lake-effect snow. I’d often stop by during lunch to check in with these experienced experts on gorilla behavior. They’d tell me things like, “Gino’s mad today because Brooke tried to assert dominance and they got in big fight and almost hurt the baby. Jo-Ray-K’s up high in the ropes with that little baby and has yet to come back down with it. She’s such a good mother.” I don’t think those guys missed a thing that went on with those gorillas and I often wished we had the budget to pay them for their dedicated observations.

So what does the Lincoln Park Zoo have in common with the thrift store? They are the great levelers of society because their doors are open to all. Go out in the parking lots and you’ll see pristine BMW’s parked next to ancient Opals being held together with spit, toothpaste, and duct tape.

America meets on common ground in the thrift store and as long as you’re willing to pay for your purchase, you’re welcome there. Hey, some stores even have coffee brewing for the shoppers!

So what are you waiting for? Get up and start your poetic shopping! Be assured, you are welcome in the thrift store.

Please write me with any questionable things you hear about thrift stores and I’ll check into it.

If you know of someone who buys into this myth, I urge you to email them this post.


Lorri said...

I love shopping Goodwill. We only have one and it does not carry any furniture. So it's mostly clothes and a few kitchen items. Wish it was bigger and carried more items.

Shopping Golightly said...


I invite you to Denver, the 5th largest re-purposing market in the country. Source: Goodwill Denver. Of course transporting furniture back to Texas could get mighty expensive.


Songbirdtiff said...

Perfectly said. I could not agree more! When I buy something from my local thrift store (with volunteer help) I like knowing that 100% of my money goes to help someone who truly needs it.

bec4 said...

Well it is a good thing I have never heard that because i would have to take someone down--just kidding! Thrift stores are for everyone--I donate plenty to them, and I purchase plenty from them. All of ours help community organizations like the battered women's shelter.

Anonymous said...

Finally! An article that dispels that dumb "poor people" myth, and that people are allegedly robbing someone else by being a good patron of thrift stores.

Glad to see the quote from Goodwill that totally supports your premise. Maybe that will satisfy a few naysayers.

I'm not destitute or "poor", and I like to think I'm a mini-philanthropist for thrifting.

the wreath witch said...

you are absolutely right in order for the store to be a success it must get donations and sell them.
it helps every one.

the wreath witch said...

ps our local goodwill is a million dollar store. I find wonderful things at the church rummage sales. people donate better things to their church.