Why It’s Important to Respect Every Donation in Thrift

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

Thrift donors and their stuff are a thrift operation’s lifeblood. It doesn’t matter if it’s a well-loved band tee shirt, toys, hand tools, whatever. It’s our job to find a second life for as many items as we can while funding a cause.

Often a thrift operation is solving a problem for a donor. Clearing out excess stuff that, as Marie Kondo says, no longer serves them. That’s a win for both sides.

  • The parent reclaiming their college graduate’s bedroom.

With hundreds of donations coming into a facility each week it’s easy to lose sight of the people behind those goods.

Some things are tied up with important memories and aren’t always easy to let go of. How we treat them at the moment can leave an indelible impression.

Sometimes the donation isn’t about the donation.

Photo by Chang Duong on Unsplash

A real-life example:

Since no one was around when an SUV pulled up to the donation drop off I took care of the donor. A 30-something gentleman in a vehicle packed with little girl’s things had pulled up. An outdoor doll house, dolls, assorted general toys, and on and on. It was a lot of stuff. Much of it looked nearly new and everything was packed with care. This wasn’t a normal clean-out of outgrown stuff.

He was so somber, I could feel the heaviness of the moment. Dispensing with the small talk I treated every box, bag, and item as if it was fine china.

When we finished this hard task I shook his hand, thanked him, and told him we would find new homes for these things. He nodded and drove off never saying a word.

As much as I appreciate the young people that were working donations that afternoon I doubt they would have picked up on what was going on.

I wasn’t even supposed to be at that store that day, but the universe had its brilliant plan. I knew what that kind of grief looks like. I felt so fortunate to be there in that moment, to be a tiny part of his grieving process.

Whether we are receiving “good riddance” stuff or a departed loved one’s worldly possessions, treating each donation with respect is a foundation of good stewardship.

The thing is, we usually don’t know the real why behind each donation.

Rather than send these items into the regular flow, I took everything directly to the proper processing stations so they didn’t end up packed away in a Gaylord. It was a small thing, but it was what I could do.

Thanks for reading.

Tim Gebauer — Thrift Merchant

Tim Gebauer

I am happy to connect on LinkedIn.

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I also write on Medium.

A quote:

Fix What Bugs You, Paul Akers. The link takes you to a mouse pad with the quote on it in my Redouble merch art site.




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Tim Gebauer

Thrift and retail blogger. Helping small business succeed. Connect on linkedIn, my thrift reseller blog thethrifter or my amazon thrift merchandising e-book.