Drama At the Thrift Store



I stopped in at Thrift Store ‘A’ today on the hunt for knock-off items I could give that ‘Shabby Chic’ or ‘Industrial’ look to and faded fabric to make an old fashioned quilt. No luck in either department. I have sworn in the past that I wouldn’t set foot in Thrift Store ‘A’ because of their greed, but there I was.

I always see people in the thrift store that appear down and out, and today was no exception. Of course, I was there too, so what does that tell you? I digress. I noticed two women who were obviously friends, oohing and ahhing and exclaiming over the second hand purses (“super cute!”), and other items. They were having a great time finding items they could afford, although, I heard the dark-haired lady say she needed 20 cents more to purchase one of the purses. While I listened to their banter, I was digging through card board boxes of not-so-fresh-smelling scraps of fabric…

I moseyed on downstairs to the lower level of the thrift store where I noticed the above sign and got all riled up again. The audacity of the assumptions behind these signs… Oops, I broke one of your precious donated drinking glasses… looks like I’ll fork over 30 cents… hope I can still afford my rent this month... hope you’ll forgive me for breaking something that you was given to you in the first place… 

The previously mentioned ladies followed me down, and while I was surveying the priceless drinking glasses and cast off flower vases, I noticed the dark haired lady trying on shoes and being really excited about a pair that she thought might ease her back pain. Then, panic and raised voices…  she was frantically searching her purse looking for a 50 dollar bill her mother had given her to get change for… it couldn’t be found… she said she had laid her purse down and perhaps some other ladies she had seen near her purse had taken the money… she began crying and saying she couldn’t go home now because she lost her mother’s money.  She was so upset, her friend tried to calm her down, asking when she had last opened her purse, but the money was not to be found. I felt so bad for her, she obviously didn’t have the extra money to buy something new and really nice at a regular retail store, I just felt so sorry and bad for her.

The Holy Spirit prompted me… I gave her a 20 dollar bill I had in my purse. I told her I was sorry it wasn’t 50 dollars, but maybe it would help a little. She was so thankful, but still, she was out $30, and she was still crying and upset. And I still felt bad for her, I wished I could have made things right for her. I wished life wasn’t a bummer and that there weren’t people who steal from others–especially other poor people.

I left the store and as I was driving home (in my new car, no less), I began thinking of how now I was out of $20!  (Oh, so greedy Joy, so small and so selfish!)  Most likely I would have spent 20 dollars on something I didn’t really need, and God knows, all my needs are met. But then I started thinking something different… why didn’t I do more? Why didn’t I help more? And I had the idea that I could have been bold… BOLD!  I could have seen if the ladies who represent and volunteer at Thrift Store ‘A’ could really walk the talkwhat if... what if I had gone to those ladies and said, this woman has either lost or had a 50 dollar bill stolen from her purse… can you help her? Can you open the cash register drawer and give her 30 more dollars to help her out? Will you? Didn’t Jesus say to sell everything you have and give to the poor? Don’t you think that verse applies right here and now?

Oh! I wish I would have been bold! I wish I would have trusted Jesus to do a miracle right then and there! I wish I had more faith!  I wish I would have thought of this earlier!  And it would have been quite revealing as to where the store volunteers hearts were, if they really believed that God was watching, that God was real, but I’ll never know, because I never tried, I didn’t have the faith and I didn’t have the trust.

You know, God is not just some lofty idea swirling around up in the clouds, some imaginary thing that we like to talk about when things are going well for us, or when we offer up hollow prayers for those who are hurting. Maybe what folks really need is action on our part… for us to be the hands and feet of Christ, for us to be the face of Christ until they can see Him and come to personally know Him.

I had the chance to learn something today, and I could have done more, but I was just plain too wimpy.  ‘Wimps for Christ’!  No, I don’t think so. I hope the next time I will be bold enough to do the right thing—that I will be brash and bold and trust that God can work a miracle. That poor woman needed one.


P.S.  This happened about 5 hours after I wrote the post: My husband came home and said he had noticed that on a trip we just returned from, I had used ‘my’ $20 to pay for an item in the grocery store. He said, “You didn’t have to use your money to pay for that” and he pulled a $20 bill out of his wallet and dropped it next to me. I hadn’t told him about the incident today, nor does he read this blog. Coincidence?  Interesting to say the least!


8 thoughts on “Drama At the Thrift Store

  1. This is a great post, and of course, I have to say that you certainly did more than most would have under the circumstances. My first thought, unfortunately, was, “I wonder if the gal was making a big deal about the money to GET money?” I’ve had some not-so-cool experiences on Craig’s List lately with scammers and folks who will lie through their teeth to get what they want. However, that said, I know that in this situation your gut was telling you she needed help, and what I often have to remind myself is that it doesn’t matter. In the long run, whether or not someone is or isn’t really in need doesn’t matter. What matters is what I choose to do. And, it is wonderful that you took something from the experience. Perhaps that is exactly what God wanted to happen! We don’t know, and many times I feel the same way….I could have done more. But, we keep striving and learning, and it’s awesome that your heart is in the right place. XOXO-Kasey

    • Thanks Kasey. Yeah, this was genuine, like you said I knew in my gut. She was simply trying on shoes and then I overheard her comments to her friend, and as the seconds went by, she became more distraught. They didn’t see me or know I was listening. (oh gosh, as I was writing this, a woman was walking up my sidewalk crying while she was talking on her phone… didn’t run out and ask her if she needed help though…)

  2. Hi Joy, you diod what you could. I think I’ve learnt that we are only responsible for our own actions. i wouldn’t ever attempt to persuade someone else to act on my behalf, it’s too much to ask – let the store attendants deal with their own convictions.
    Just liek Casey i’ve seen a few “manufactured” sob stories, and it is possible the ladies were operating a scam.

  3. It is sad that people steal from those who need the most. This lady was obviously in need and you walked in obedience when our precious Holy Spirit prompted you to give her money. He may have been prompting others there to help… but you responded. May God pour out His blessings upon you.

  4. Aww, you have a good heart.

    Reminds me of a time I was waiting for a bus outside an Indian casino (no, I wasn’t inside –I abhor places like that) in Niagara Falls and a guy came up to me.

    He wanted money because ‘his mother needed an operation’ on her eyes.

    I said to him ” If I give you money, how do I know you won’t go into the casino and put it on a number on a roulette wheel?”

    He looked me right in the eye and said “Heck no — I got gamblin’ money”.


    • Thanks Jim, good story. I just need to do my part and leave the results up to God. BTW… no writing anymore from you? Is your blog still AWOL? After you sent me the link to your ‘new’ blog, I still couldn’t access it. Fill me in! Oh wait… just found it. Now I have some reading to do. 😉

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