You Break It You Buy It



We have two thrift stores in my town. One, I’ll refer to as Thrift Store ‘A’, the other Thrift Store ‘B’.

I like to hit thrift stores. I like to declutter too. Get rid of what has now become nothing more than something to dust, or something that’s been in a box for years and moved from house to house. Stuff that’s past it’s prime or I just figure someone else might find some joy in it; after all, I got my money’s worth out of it.

So when I drop off items at the thrift stores, I invariably have to look around for some great buys, it’s just what I do. But it wasn’t too long and I noticed something; Thrift store ‘A’ was absolutely packed to the gills. And then I noticed other little things that started to bother me: signs that read (in both English and Spanish), “If you break it, you buy it” and, “Price changing is a Federal Crime”, and over-all, higher prices than Thrift Store ‘B’. At Thrift store ‘A’, they have $5 bag days. It’s all the goodies you can cram into a plastic sack and just pay $5, quite the deal. As I’ve strolled down the aisles past stale-smelling clothing and items of questionable worth, I’ve seen signs that boldly proclaim, “These items not included in the bag sale!”  Hmmm… so I asked the volunteer: “Why aren’t these items included in your bag sale?” She replied, “Because they’re usually nicer than the other items (in the store).”  Is that so? I found some vintage calendar towels that were ironed and priced higher than… a rumpled one in the bottom of a cardboard box. Since the towel is ironed and hanging, I’m paying more for it than one wadded up in the bottom of a box.

I’ll get to my point. What is the purpose of a thrift store? Many I am sure, but isn’t the main purpose to help those who may not be in the best financial situation to be able to purchase a used item that still has some life in it? To meet a very necessary need for someone who does not have the spendable income to provide NEW items for their family? Hasn’t every item in the thrift store been DONATEDGIVEN to said store? As in, it’s no sweat off the ‘owners’ of the thrift store’s back to possibly give some poor person a break–to take in less money?  “You break it, you buy it”? Seriously? Why?  This is a question I will ask the next time I am in Thrift Store ‘A’… however, I probably won’t return to that particular thrift store, as I’ve decided to take all my donations and make all my purchases at Thrift store ‘B’.

Thrift Store ‘A’ and ‘B’ are both run by their respective churches–all money goes to the church, church projects, whatever. I have found that store ‘B’ is very reasonable on their prices… whoever is volunteering gets to set the price… 25 cents for a man’s shirt! Or maybe, 50 cents… it’s Mabel’s day to help, you know.  Store ‘B”s helpers are so friendly, so kind, so humble, so grateful for whatever I drop off. Store ‘A”s helpers act like they’re running a business. Okay, they do have to be accountable for the money they take in, I am sure rent has to be paid, utilities, but they act like they are doing you a favor to let you shop there. When I mentioned to a helper at store ‘B’ of my thoughts on store ‘A’, she told me that the folks at store ‘A’ told them they would “close them down”! A threat from the good Christians at store ‘A’!  Where’s the good will? The grace? The loving kindness and empathy? Store ‘A’ has’ Greed’ written all over it’s face, in bold!

Ever so often, I see a truck backed up to the door of store ‘A’ and items are being hauled out by the box loads. Guess they couldn’t sell it, guess it was priced too high, maybe it was too nice to include in the bag sale. They could have lowered the price and cleaned out the place… heck, why not just give it all away?

Last week I was in Thrift StoreB’... found a few items that totaled around $1.50, but other than approximately 86 cents in change, all I had were $20 bills. ‘Mable’ was hesitant to use up all her change on a $20, so she said to just take the items for the 86 cents. Nice of her to cut me some slack. But then I did it… the Spirit prompted me… I handed her a $20 and said, “just keep it. it’s a donation.” She was shocked, humbled, and said, “It all goes to the church!”  I said that’s fine, after all I had just attended their church that past Sunday. It’s all good. May God bless and ‘prosper’ Thrift store ‘B’. To God be the glory. And that’s just what I think.