Friday, October 19, 2012

Wanted: Part-Time e-Bay Coordinator for Goodwill. Your Thoughts?


 My book reseller pal Joe took these pictures at a local Goodwill yesterday. He writes:

 "Thursday, October 18th, 2012 - Left: a pic of Goodwill employees taking down their bookshelves. Goodwill Corporate is stopping the flow of treasure to the floor where a small community of resellers harvest goods in bulk to resell online. Right: Salvation Army, too, is hiring e-commerce specialists to evaluate trinkets and bric-a-brac and manage their eBay and Amazon stores. A subculture of resellers who make their living frequenting thrift stores are about to be sent hurtling into oblivion, scavenging daily to beat thrift businesses to the punch."

Thrift stores across the nation continue to raise prices and sell vintage valuables on eBay. One of Goodwill's missions is raise funds and create jobs, and selling wares online is a good way to do that. Are they really ready to change their brick and mortar set-up, and instead become warehouses to house eBay goods until they sell? Sure, treasures will slip through the cracks of their system but thrifting is a treasure hunt, and the appeal will diminish when we stop finding $60.00 scores for $5.00. I avoid thrift stores for my reselling needs these days, and the sign Joe captured gives me more reason to.

How do you feel about Goodwill's eBay sales and rising thrift store prices? With thrift stores only stocking "junk" with no resell value, will "thrifting" become a thing of the past?
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108 comments:

  1. i understand their need to make a buck for their charities. but it just seems like they are jumping on the bandwagon. however, i have to admit, i wouldn't mind being paid to be one of those vintage coordinators!

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    1. I'd be lying if I didn't say the thought didn't cross my mind when I saw the picture! Many of us would be more than qualified! But I'd rather sell valuable on eBay in the comfort of home...

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    2. You would have the first go at the good stuff. I know a lady know collects toys and she volunteers and gets stuff at a box rate. I know another guy who collects books and get EVERYTHING interested at a box rate. The rate is usually something crazy like 5 to 10 bucks.

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    3. Good to know. I've heard conflicting stories about whether or not employees are even allowed to buy goods from Goodwill. Some say there aren't, but it makes more sense that they are.

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  2. However, Goodwills always miss the truly valuable stuff and then mark up the fancy but uninteresting stuff. The thrill of the hunt will not go away.

    Katy

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    1. Goodies will continue to trickle down to us, they can't get them all. But it looks like they're taking a finer toothed comb to it.

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  3. I will be donating my "stuff" to charities that don't do this! In my neighborhood, we have a Hospice thrift store, an Orphan Aid thrift store and a large hospital thrift store. I do realize that Salvation Army is in the business to make money, but I can choose where I donate and I prefer a charity that keeps the goods and profits in my neighborhood. I'd be very angry if I donated let's say, a vase, and then saw that vase on a website for big bucks! If I want it sold online I'd do it myself! When I donate I'd like to think the items are for people like me...not wealthy collectors willing to pay big money online - maybe not even in North America! If the donations to these "big box" thrift stores slows down, perhaps they will re-think their money grabbing practice!

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    1. I donate my goodies to small local thrift stores when I can. They are always very grateful for it and directly goes to helping them and whatever churches/charities they support stay afloat. These are also the stores I prefer to shop at when I'm not at flea markets, yard sales, or people's houses getting goodies.

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    2. I agree with you. I donate to a local thrift store that isn't necc. cheap when it comes to nicer items, but I know exactly how the money is being spent and its direct impact on our community.

      I

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  4. It's terrible - the GWs nearest us have been doing similar for several years already. I call them the BadWill. IMHO,if they're going to do online primarily and they're going to so obviously insert a "picker" level right between them and the shoppers, then they shouldn't get to be classed as a non-profit. That strategy is obviously a FOR-profit, never mind the mission statement or that they're creating jobs. I get salty about it - they already have an enormous advantage because they're getting donations for free.

    It makes me not want to donate. Yes - pickers, resellers and collectors also donate to thrifts - I've donated about 100 boxes of books,ceramics,glass,collectibles this year after moving and de-hoarding. Pretty much all "good stuff". Let me just say I didn't donate much to Goodwill.

    Well.. I guess on the other hand we can always apply for those jobs.

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    1. It might not be a bad job if we could buy stuff we personally liked from their hoard at normal Goodwill value, I'd probably whistle and skip to that job every day. But you know that wouldn't happen! I love BadWill! And I've thought the same about their "non-profit" claims.

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    2. Non profit does not mean you don't run your business or charity to not make money. It is a legal tax term which means any profits cannot be used for retained earnings or for dividends to shareholders. The "profits" are basically given away in the form of charatiable goods or services or for furthering their mission.

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    4. When I first wrote this article I was thinking classifications got fuzzy for a non-profit when they display serious efforts of ramping up earnings like Goodwill displays lately. Now I'm realizing I was thinking of what the IRS classifies as a "hobby" versus being "self-employed". I'm going to read the tax code more, but you're right Jay. I do believe I've read that before in the tax code and that makes perfect sense to me.

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  5. My Goodwill has begun doing this. Just saw two Barbie dolls for $15.00. Many dolls and other very high priced. They are no longer stocking the quantity of toys that they did before. There is a dramatic change in the toy section stock. Most of the toys are junk. Very sad. If they do not want sell their wares in the brick and mortar stores just close them but don't underserve the customers. Its insulting and a waste of time and gas to go there to find empty shelves with way overpriced junk.

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    1. All good points. Many thrift stores in general really are becoming junk stores where some items for sale really belong in the trash.

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    2. yeah, I agree. I work at a local craft store and sometimes while thrifting, I see used items that actually cost less retail where I work. a lot of the clothes just look tired and ugly. I've found it a better use of my time to find a consignment type store where I can "trade" in my old clothes for "new" ones

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  6. I don't like it and it's one of the reasons that I don't frequent these "chain thrift stores" anymore. They are getting more savvy to setting the "good stuff" with value aside to sell on ebay and placing all of the junky junk {"crap"} on the floor.

    I remember long ago when I used to find piles of treasures in GW, Savers, and SA for CHEAP thrifty prices...those days are gone. These days, I might visit 3-4 GW and end up leaving empty-handed...waste of time and gas. :(

    They are becoming competition with resale. Items are donated to them...ok, yes, I know they have overhead, but so do resale small business owners and dealers who pay booth/case rent.

    I also have stopped donating to the chain thrift stores, I donate to the smaller indie not-for-profit thrift stores and shop there too, because these smaller indie thrift stores still have "thrift store" prices...

    I'm heading out now to check out some estate sales this morning...hope I find some treasures! ;)

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    1. At least we have estate and yard sales to pillage! I hate how many thrift stores will stock the junkiest of belongs-in-the-trash junk, but hey, I guess some people buy it. Eye of the beholder and such.

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    2. There are also many more resellers than there used to be, too.

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    3. Quite true! MUCH more competition than there used to be. It's interesting to read "innocent" books like "Thrift Score" and "American Junk" written before the online reselling days when thrifting was more than likely about collecting rather than reselling.

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  7. I'm not too keen on this either. I also donate some of my good stuff to charity as well. I like to keep the cycle going and give other people treasures to find. I agree with A La Modern- this is a for-profit strategy by Goodwill and I'm not sure how I feel about our tax dollars going to aid them in this endeavor. They will shoot themselves in the foot if they keep it up. There's a local thrift store chain here that is very shady in my opinion when it comes to their policies. Some say that they get donated goods, others say they have to buy their items to resell. Either way their prices are through the roof on most items. I tried to talk to a manager about it one day, because non-profits have to disclose their profits. I wanted to know if they're charging that much for items, how much is going to truly help people? They were super evasive and this made me feel guilty about shopping there. I shop at their stores maybe once a month or less, and it's not to say that I don't find good stuff. I actually was just there yesterday and found some underpriced mcm goods but this is vastly the exception. They had a piano keyboard in there yesterday with a $300 price tag. Last month they had some epic black velvet paintings for $150 each. Tsk tsk. But back to Goodwill, I consider myself friends with some of the employees because I do frequent them as they are the biggest chain of thrift stores here, and they have NOTHING good to say about the organization. Really sad. And honestly, most of the thrift stores here are going the route of overpricing stuff and having front cases of overpriced valuable and/or vintage goods. But so far there's still been deals to be had, you just have to work harder and dig deeper. :P

    FYI: "The IRS and nonprofits themselves are required to disclose the information on Form 990 to anyone who asks. Nonprofits must allow public inspection of these records during regular business hours at their principal offices. However, many people won't even need to ask -- a number of websites make Forms 990 available for the searching, including the Foundation Center at http://fdncenter.org and GuideStar at www.guidestar.org."

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    1. I never knew we had tax dollars helping them on top of all they're earning from their stores. Hmmmm...food for though. I've seen GuideStart but not FDN Center, all of this potential shadiness might require some deeper probing.

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    2. I'm not sure how much they get from the government, but any nonprofit is eligible to apply for government grants. And of course government money is our investment in our country from taxes. Will have to do some deeper probing also to find out specifics.

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    3. From Hoovers.com regarding Goodwill Industries: "Support for its programs is generated primarily from sales of donated goods, both at the retail stores and through an online auction site, as well as from contract work and government grants."

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    4. Thank you for the helpful research. I'll definitely have to use it in a follow-up post on the topic.

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  8. I don't like it, either. Though it would be a cool gig for someone part-time. I've noticed our GWs are putting things they feel are "high dollar" in the glass cases in front or not putting them on the floor at all. I used to find designer vintage clothes all the time. Now not so much unless it's ripped up, or otherwise damaged. The same goes for the collectible items. Bunch of damaged junk or newer overly used household goods on shelves. I'll shop at GW for everyday clothes, but as far as picking for resell..I'm having more luck these days at Antique Malls or independent thrifts. Disabled Vets and Citithrift still have decent pricing. But S. Army is starting to increase their prices also. I'll be donating less to GW.

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    1. It's sad when we can go to antique malls and get items for significantly cheaper than Goodwills. I need to check out Disabled Vets more but Citithrift is pretty good.

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  9. Goodwill actually has its own auction site at http://www.shopgoodwill.com/ where they list items. The stores in my area list items there, and I interviewed to work for them. Pay was minimum wage with no chance of a raise, so I ended up passing on taking the job. I've never tried to bid on auctions on their site, though I should probably check it out sometime just to see what things sell for. I would imagine they have a lot of bidders and stuff goes high, but I could be wrong...

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    1. That's pretty messed up to pay minimum wage for that job when the person hired brings a lot of knowledge to the table, but when I think of them being a non-profit, that makes sense. I'll have to check out their online shop in detail, I've glanced at it before but never looked at what sells and for how much.

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  10. This is becoming really frustrating. I checked out the Goodwill auction site and found stuff going for obscene prices. I understand their desire to do this, but I don't know, it seems to me like they are getting greedy. I would never dream of reselling some of the stuff they sell at those high prices. It's hard too though because they kind of have the same feelings towards us. We go in and buy dirt cheap from a charity, and then resell for our own profit, but the thing is we aren't making millions on it, and everyone I know sells items at more than fair prices. I don't know, it sucks... Pretty soon they will inflate the price on everything like crazy and then maybe we will have the advantage again.

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    1. Buying low and selling high is just the name of the game with business. They operate for a good cause, but I feel like they're getting greedy with the high pricing in stores and on auctions.

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  11. Yes they built a center here in my town for just that. Online sales. When researching items I sell on eBay, many times I will find GW has had the same item up for probably more than $4 what I would charge, plus shipping & I think they have a $3 fee as well. Lots of stuff out of IN. Yes I agree with others, the thrill of the hunt is always there. I haven't had a job for over 3 years and had a couple of health problems, but all it, the shopping, the searching, the photography, selling is what keeps me going. lanasdream eBay.

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    1. It's still addictive, fun work despite the pitfalls. Even picked over Goodwills can still offer treasures. Thanks for sharing more of your story.

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  12. The biggest, saddest point in all of this is that the store is supposed to benefit the needy. Meaning that unfortunate people that cannot afford to buy at retail. But now that is all these thrift stores offer. I have seen over and over again the prices on shirts being more than I would pay at an Old Navy sale. They have forgotten their purpose in their greed.

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    1. I completely agree. One of my Goodwill employee friends said they used to give free clothing to the homeless but the big wigs made them stop doing that. They could come in once a week and get a full outfit. I don't know if it's all Goodwills or just here, but that is incredibly sad that they quit offering that.

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    2. I know Goodwill's ultimate mission is to raise funds for their organization and benefit people in other ways, but Goodwill is the most recognizable thrift store chain. And thrift stores have the reputation of being there for the needy. I hope at least some of them donate clothes that won't sell to those in need once they've made it through the pound stores without selling, but from my research the stuff is thrown into secured dumpsters.

      I often make the, "I could buy the NEW for less!" comment while thrifting these days, too.

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  13. Great and interesting article. Thrifts closing up shop is a bad idea in my opinion. People like to see where their donations go and that they help people who can't afford retail. If that isn't the case why shouldn't they sell items on Ebay themselves or just keep them since they are valuable.

    I often hear people in a thrift exclaim over high prices and in turn proclaim they won't be donating to the store any longer.

    Sure, I look for deals and treasures at thrifts but I also donate everything to them as well-and I mean car loads!

    I noticed that my GW stopped selling childrens books & toys a year ago & I wondered what they did with them. Rarely do I find anything decent at GW unless I'm looking for Target or Walmart wares-call it a landfill of plastic. I have long suspected and heard of pickers in the back room. Occasionally, I find vintage but that's because I think they miss it. At all my GWs shelves are always bare and I wonder if people still bother to donate?

    On my blog I recently griped about a 1st Dibs priced $700 jewelery box at one of my thrifts. And they very well know it sells on Ebay for $75 since they search every item on Ebay and then sell items with the Ebay comparable print-out. Takes the fun out of the hunt for me. Might as well go on Ebay for the item. I stopped donating to this particular store when they started removing the price stickers of items I donated and sold them for more than retail (and they sold!)What silliness.

    All donations now go to a local thrift that sells things cheap allowing people with little money to purchase clothing and household items-the true meaning of thrift store for me. Otherwise aren't you just running a resale shop?

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    1. I've also seen Goodwills successfully sell items from the dollar store NEXT DOOR for much more than retail price. Like I said earlier, if people will pay for it, more power to them, but they should stop calling their stores "thrift stores" if they're turning into (low quality) resale shops/consignment shops instead.

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  14. The other day I found a signed David Weidman print marked at $8.99

    And a cheap made in china floral print in a plastic frame was marked 29.99 (collectible)

    I sold the Weidman print for $200

    They miss stuff every day, so I don't worry about it- but it seems to me that to the general public they'd worry they're only getting the left overs of the left overs you know ? lol

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    1. Love this encouraging story! I'd LOVE to find a signed original David Weidman print! I have seen the made in china prints priced super high while treasures slip under the radar.

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  15. Once again the almighty dollar wins! And I don't want to hear the post office whining about money with all this Ebay/Etsy shipping.

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    1. Maybe we can pull them out of debt ;) haha Seriously, that is odd when Amazon is putting Best Buy in the poor house and internet business is booming.

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  16. Oh gee this is a hard one to answer and not be long winded about huh? Here in Australia I've recently discovered that the Salvos (Salvation Army) are selling online. So a vintage frock that would otherwise be $8 in the store is $60. Now having said that $8 for a frock in a bricks and mortar store is rather high in my opinion. Considering small, church base etc thrifts sell a frock for half that at best.

    Major chain store thrifts seem to be less about helping the communities in which they are with affordable merch. I also view resellers as part of that group of people being assisted by thrifts. There are countless retired/semi retired pete out there with an eye for valuables who try to collect and turn things over selling on line, markets, car boot sales for a profit to support their otherwise basic lifestyle.

    I rarely and I mean rarely shop at the chain store thrifts, dollars travel through too many hands now end up assisting communities and the result is their merch will never be affordable again to help those who visit stores. I shop at small church, community based stores with great prices, at car boots, garage sales etc.

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  18. Y'all are really uneducated about the purpose of Goodwill. They did not create stores to provide for needy persons in the area of the store. They created stores to earn profits for their organization. Selling items online is not a for-profit strategy that is somehow opposed to a non-profit business. Non-profit doesn't mean they make no profits. It means that that the company uses surplus revenues to achieve its goals rather than distributing them as profit or dividends. This is all totally in keeping with the goal of both Goodwill and The Salvation Army. They don't actually owe it to you to sell things at super low prices.

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    1. You're right, they don't owe it to us to sell at super low prices. I will continue not to buy their high priced merchandise. I understand Goodwill has a mission to raise funds for their programs, but they'll lose customers if they continue to stock junk on the shelves while simultaneously raising prices. It's not there yet, but the direction they're moving in could hurt a lot of people in the long run: their profits, the people they help, low income shoppers...

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    2. Fenn, I don't know if you meant it to be, but your comment sounds super condescending. I DO know all about non-profits. My mom worked for them for years in the arts field and even was a grant writer, I worked for and with them as well for years because I have a master's degree in a field handled largely by non-profits. Yes, you're right, it doesn't mean that they aren't allowed any profits at all. Largely profits go back into the organization's "charity" work. However, there is a salary structure for all non-profits supposedly regulated by the government. And for the record, there have been a lot of scandals involving salaries of Goodwill executives. http://taxdollars.ocregister.com/2010/08/02/goodwill-charity-exec-earns-354605/61979/. From what I've heard first hand they pay their employees poorly and don't treat them well. So please, do your research as well before admonishing every one else.

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    3. I'm going to have to agree with Michelle and Van on this one.

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    4. I've also heard stories of their mistreatment of employees, Michelle. Overall, Goodwill being a nonprofit doesn't exempt them form operating professionally and running stores with quality in mind.

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    5. I am going to support Fenn on this one. I completely agree with what you are saying.

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    6. No, I meant it to be condescending, and I know about their past scandals. I assume that everyone here thinks the Goodwill owes them something and that the Goodwill thinks of the vintage resellers as part of their important, consumer demographics.

      But they don't. They don't think of you at all. They aren't breaking any laws. They aren't doing anything unethical. They are running a business as they see fit, making money as they need to in order to support their other missions. Resellers are not important to them, and the very idea they'd lose customers for selling junk is preposterous.

      This message was not meant to be condescending.

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    7. I for one, really don't think they owe me anything as a reseller. I have seen Goodwills and other thrift stores literally fill their shelves with broken, unusable items in different cities, we don't really have that problem here in Jacksonville. I definitely think sales can hurt if you start to stock only ripped, torn, broken, unusable items. No Goodwill I've been to is completely at that level yet. But we're seeing it move very slowly in that direction.

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    8. Fenn I really don't have a problem with the content of your comments, but I find it unnecessary to have an arrogant or condescending tone. If you want to educate people about something you know more about, that's ok. I fully support this. But I believe it can be done in a way that is not intended to make people feel stupid. Have some compassion and empathy. Some people feed their family by reselling, is it not ok for them to feel some frustration over rising prices whether justified or not? I personally don't make my living doing this. I do it for fun, so really the rising prices don't affect me all that much. I do wish the Goodwill treated employees better, but on the flip side my GW employee friends are happy to have a job in this economy. So I guess there are two sides to everything.

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    9. A lot of blogs will delete comments that are even REMOTELY "mean." Even if it's just constructive criticism. The result is a blog that isn't a true medium for discussion. I never want my blog to be that way, I want it to be authentic. I won't delete comments, I want everyone to speak their mind. I would just appreciate it if everything everyone says adds to the conversation. No name calling and no need to be intentionally condescending, please!

      On Goodwill treating employees poorly, I think before we started this conversation I would have thought they need to increase the wages for sure, especially when you read their mission statement. I still think the mistreatment is wrong, but we'd have to throw stones at every company for that. It's the reason why many of us love being freelancers, it may not pay as much many of the times, but freedom from a system that treats us like emotionless cogs in a machine is priceless. Like you said, two sides to everything!

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  19. Not all thrifts are not for profits. Savers, Value Village and Unique (for instance)are business run by and benefiting an owner.

    Ps It's obvious the goodwill auction site is run by a minimum wage worker, the mispellings are dreadful

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    1. I think that's a sad and mean blanket statement about minimum wage workers. I've worked for minimum wage a lot of my years and I am not uneducated - nor am I a poor speller.

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    2. We don't have Savers, Value Village, or Unique down here. I don't mind shopping at for-profit thrift stores, but they shouldn't consider themselves "thrift stores" if the prices are more like consignment shops/resale shops/boutiques.

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  20. Uggh...you know, I am glad that they can raise more money to help people but at the same time, it really sucks for those of us who go there looking for a vintage score. I do only a scarce amount of reselling but do love finding things for myself and for gifts for people. I think it's a sad end to an era mostly.

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    1. We're all watching the changing trends so we can adjust and develop new ways to find the vintage we love. At least there will always be garage sales and estate sales.

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    2. Unfortunately estate sales are catching onto the trend, too. I can't tell you how many estate sales I've gone to lately that look more like a gallery than a home, completely cleaned out sans a small selection of highly priced items delicately placed as though on boutique shelves. It's rather off-putting and a little disheartening to see somebody's legacy sprawled out like a storefront.

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    3. I get to the ones around here a little late, need to plan better, but every time I get there the mod lamp shades I want are priced extremely high. I get they're trying to make as much as possible but they need to take that stuff t eBay if they want $100+ for certain things.

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    4. But an estate sale is a business run with a middle man. On the show, Cash and Cari, she takes 30% plus expenses. So, she has to make enough for the customer (what do you think your whole life is worth?) and then mark it up 30%. Estate sales are often well researched, and items are priced higher because they know it is worth it. Many collectors go to estate sales, not to get a good deal, but to find valuable pieces. I find estate sales to be mostly out of our price range, excluding fabric, stuffing, and books.

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    5. Yep, Fenn, quite true. They don't make the best places to buy items to resell a lot of the time. Although friends of mine have gone to them to purchase tons of vintage for low prices, I haven't been that lucky yet.

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    6. Some people do estate sales on their own without a middle man but those seem uncommon.

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  21. Don't get fooled by the word "thrift"

    A great deal of thrift stores are privatly owned and for profit companies. Of course they are going to do what they can to maximize profits.

    No different then us vintage sellers. Except people drop free stuff off at their front door. lol

    What irritates me is the mess our local Goodwills are. So much for proper job training.

    Savers, The Salvation Army, and locally owned thrift stores are neatly kept despite some of the dirty buildings they are located in. Goodwill just sucks.

    I vistited a local flea market today and was surprized to find the high increase in prices there. The second hand market is growing incredibly fast. Shops popping up all over. Shortage of children's clothes and toys.

    Stopped at Savers yesterday. Middle of the month a day before payday for most. Place was jammed with customers. ------Sure tells a story about the economy.

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    1. I don't mind for-profit thrift stores as long as they keep to the "thrift" title in their name and have reasonable prices and run a decent quality store. There are some monstrously messy stores out there. Sometimes we want that because treasures can be hidden in the mess, but when it comes to thrift stores from my experience, there's usually nothing in the sad, crazy mess ones.

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  22. Honestly, the Goodwill down here has been a dead zone for years. Overpriced, nothing really worth the gas. I do the majority of my picking somewhere other than a thrift store anyway. Thrift stores here are lousy with people who, thanks to the magic of TV, fancy themselves American Pickers, waiting in line an hour before the place opens, shoving and bickering, it's too much hassle. If I go into a thrift store 9 times out of 10 it's not to pick, it's to buy something I need for the house and don't want to pay retail for, like extra plates for Thanksgiving or towels to refinish furniture. The only people I know who make money at thrift stores are vintage clothing sellers. And nothing puts me off a place faster than some piece of junk in terrible condition with a crazy price tag and a sign taped to it about how much it sells for on eBay, which you see more and more often at thrift stores here.

    Of course, I also scored an expensive Eames replica lounge chair a few months ago at my local Sally for 20 bucks, so knowing your stuff factors into it too. They can pay some kid 7 bucks an hour to scour eBay all they want, but if they don't know what they're looking at, they don't know what they're looking at.

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    1. I've seen the taped signs with how much items sell for on eBay too, makes me wish they'd just go ahead and list it instead of teasing me with the item's beauty. Good to know you scored an Eames replica despite how busy thrift stores get in your area!

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  23. You certainly have touched a sensitive nerve with this post, Van - excellent topic!

    Principally I think any business should be able to make as much money as they can, and if a thrift store can make more money online, it is their right.
    HOWEVER, I feel charity thrift stores are misleading people who donate to their stores and who think that their gently used clothes, childrens' toys and books, and various equipment will be sold WITHIN their community to people in need.

    A lot of people who donate would perhaps not be as generous if they knew of the speculative practice of reselling online to collectors etc, even though the profits ultimately benefit a higher cause. There is something about wanting to believe that your children's gently used skates will end up on the feet of another little girl in the area, or that the rocking horse and kids books will be bought by a mom on a tight income who is looking to find these exact things for her children. It might be sentimental, but I think this feeling is quite strong. It pains me to see all the junk that is put out on the shelves, especially in the kids' sections - and at the same time see the nice Barbies, Playmobil sets and nicely bound fairy tales on their website - only available for the savvy online shoppers.

    As a comparison, when people donate shoes to children in Africa, their mental picture is that the shoes will go to the children in an African village, not sold on the market in an African town to the highest bidder. It might profit the organization who provides the shoes to the auctions, but the method seems distasteful to the donors.

    So, I guess my main point is that Goodwill is on a dangerous path. Of course people will find treasures at Goodwill and resell for their own profit, but they will likely never outnumber the people who shop there out of need. If the people who shop there out of need are only offered junk, while the good quality items are stashed away for (more affluent) online shoppers, the perception of Goodwill as a true charity will diminish.

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    1. All good points, thanks for sharing. I know we've all talked about thrift karma, too, and leaving some "good" stuff behind for the rest of the shoppers rather than scouring an entire store and taking every last re-sellable potential treasure from it. You're right, a lot of people would like to know what they're donating is really helping another person in need.

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    2. Do people really assume Goodwill's mission was to provide lower cost, gently used items to needy people in the area? Because that has never been their mission at all. Their mission is job training and placement, and their stores are a way to offset the cost of that and to provide jobs for people in need. They have never said anything about providing for the needy in the area, and I have never known anyone who thought donating to The Goodwill would do that. To us, it's an alternative to the dumpster.

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    3. Dear Fenn,

      I guess not everyone knows what their mission is (perhaps too abstract), but I DO know that a lot of people (including my friends) think that their donations go directly to people in need. I used a local African shoe story as an example of the outrage people felt when they found out that their kids' shoes did not go to the poor kids in the village that they had been encouraged to help, but rather to a big auction market in the city where the more affluent people bought all the quality stuff. Yes, maybe the organization used the money to help the poor villagers in other ways, but it was still deceptive enough to make people upset.

      Please don't assume that people should automatically understand that what they donate is sold to the highest bidder and not offered to people in need for affordable prices. There is a genuine reason so many people in need shop at charity thrift shops.

      Have a lovely day and thank you for supporting Goodwill.

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    4. Goodwill is evolving with the times as any good business would. As a teen I believed Goodwill's mission was to provide lower cost, gently used items to needy people in the area, and I know many other people do as well. I didn't research it, and realized the true mission in my early twenties when I saw Goodwill Job Center signs and investigated. I've met plenty of people who would rather donate to a Goodwill because they feel like it will go to people in need. I think Mad Maine is just saying that Goodwill doesn't make a point of letting people know where the items go, and it does have a reputation for providing for the needy. I know it's up to the donator to investigate where their charitable donations go, but those who don't are getting the wrong impression on how items are used.

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    5. OK. I guess I just always knew their purpose and kind of assumed so did everyone else. I can see why that would cause confusion and frustration at the choice they're making.

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  24. I rarely find anything at my GW. A new one opened recently and you would not believe the prices! Almost retail. I love the church rummage sales and church thrift shops. They make some money for their church and we get a good deal. But it makes me wonder about the future of sourcing in general. Five years from now will the whole gig be up? I don't know.

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    1. It's good to know the direction we're moving in so we can stay on top in the game. I've seen thrift stores with retail pricing, too. They should change their title...

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  25. I do most of my buying at thrift and antique stores. I work full time and travel so I have the opportunity to visit stores in multiple states, but no time for yard and estate sales. In some areas of the country I find bargains at the antique malls....and I'm sure people have bought items from my booth knowing in their city they could double the price.
    My sister is a master at finding great vintage items and I've learned a lot from her. Since we all need to look for other ways to score great items to resell, I'll share some of them with you.
    1. Sometimes she cleans houses for extra cash, but not just any ones house. She cleans homes for woman that live in Mid-Century modern homes. Many times they are remodeling and are grateful she hauls away their junk. One time she picked Pan Am Menus out of the trash and said "You don't mind if I keep these do you?"...they all love my sister!
    2. She's helped people cleaning out homes where they have told her she could have anything she wanted for working for free.
    3. It must run in the family. My uncle has had a Rubbish Removal company for 30 years. His home is furnished with the items he's hauled away. I only wish I had half the MCM pieces he's taken to the dump.
    4. There are a lot of people that don't want to bother with an estate sale they just need someone to help them pack up the items they want to keep. Then haul off the rest and clean the house for resale.
    5. I've also seen her stop buy the side of the road or a dumpster and grab cool stuff....but she's a bit eccentric....lol
    We all love the adventure of scoring unique items, we'll just need to get a bit more creative in how we find them.

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    1. Thanks so much for selling such awesome tips. I've heard of the cleaning-up trick and may need to start doing that one. I'm known for my road-side and dumpster diving, no shame here ;) I do befriend my fellow resellers and we trade items, or I ask sellers at flea markets/indie thrift stores if I could buy more from their homes. The answer is always yes.

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  26. Most of the vintage treasures I found today were from antique malls that were CHEAPER than high-priced junk at GW and other chain thrift stores.

    As it was mentioned, {I agree!} it truly is VERY SAD when vintage stuff is CHEAPER at antique malls than thrift stores... :(

    Lately, I am seeing some indie thrift stores set the good vintage stuff aside for their own silent in-store auctions. You can't BIN, you write in your bid and check back in a few days. Why would I do that, when I can sit at home on my computer and bid on ebay for items? LOL!

    In the '80's, I remember shopping for New Wave/Punk styles at the thrift stores for super cheap!!! Those were the days...{sigh!} ;)

    Anyhow, good topic overall, it's interesting to see that it's not just in my local area with "badwills", etc., but other places too.

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  27. I don't know; I'm sure there are people who think we suck for gobbling up all the great vintage finds from the thrifts and re-selling them for a lot more than we paid. Obviously we all know that everybody has as much chance as us of finding the treasures, and we couldn't do what we do if nobody would pay the price for someone else to find it for them, but it's the same thing for the thrifts. They couldn't raise the prices and sell at online auctions if there wasn't a market for it. Why shouldn't they make what they can? That's not to say I like it, but I can't exactly blame them. I can always shop elsewhere, but like others have said - there are always treasures to be had. But I may just be feeling kind because I made some good scores on a lunch break Goodwill visit today.

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    1. I definitely don't blame them for trying to maximize profit, and I sure as hell know a lot of thrift store owners dislike re-sellers. We're all trying to buy low an sell for more, it's just business. I know we'll keep finding good scores, but it's nice to know what direction the trend is going in ahead of time...

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  28. Hmmm...I currently work in a thrift store and have on occasion, sold things for them on ebay. I actually don't mind thrift stores doing this but then again, maybe it is because I'm on the "inside".

    I would certainly say though, as much as I love thrift stores, my best finds come from yard and estate sales. The pickings are always way better and usually cheaper too!

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    1. I've certainly considered working for Goodwill as an online marketer, blogger, eBay sales coordinator, or even sorting through junk...if it paid well and I could pick things I wanted. Yeh, that won't happen ;)

      I pick everywhere but prefer flea markets, yard sales, and curbsides. Need to make more time for auctions and estate sales.

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  29. I rarely go to Goodwill anymore, prices are too high. I have been hitting smaller thrifts and in small towns. One church thrift I go to also told me that Goodwill charges for their employment services to help the unemployed. Plus they abuse their employees. I rarely find treasures anymore in the chain thrifts. Thank goodness for yard and rummage sales !!!!

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    1. I still check them out but often walk out empty handed because of the high prices. I need to get back to hunting in rummage sales, miss those. Nostalgia moment on that one!

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  30. I feel like there is a disconnect here...a misunderstanding of the purpose of Goodwill and Salvation Army stores versus thrift stores, a misunderstanding of the purpose of estate sales versus yard sales. Although everyone seems to understand the purpose of antique malls and stores.

    What I always marvel at is how resellers make a living. You're searching for the diamonds in the rough and selling them to someone of a higher socio-economic status than you. There is no inherent value in anything you find or sell, and anyone could go out and hunt as you do. But you're selling to the people who don't want to hunt. They want to go to a curated site and find just the right vintage piece and pay you for the item as well as your time.

    So why does anyone owe you anything for a small price? If you're able to find items that you can mark up and resell, shouldn't you just be grateful for an economy that allows you to do this?

    As for people who live thrifty, it's a choice, right? Anything you find in a thrift store, excluding items that are no longer produced, is available, in abundance, in a variety of retail stores. It's not as if Goodwill is making towels or dishes no longer available to you. And I believe their prices are still lower than retail. So why is anyone bitching about this?

    This message was serious and not meant to be condescending. I don't understand when thrifty shoppers or vintage resellers complain about rising prices, especially if they still fall below retail price or simply make a profit margin somewhat smaller. Please educate me.

    And I feel slightly guilty saying that because I live in one of the poorest sections of the nation, our thrift stores are beyond cheap all the time. 50 cent Mondays, 'nuff said. Y'all are welcome to come stay with me in NEOhio, and I will take you to the myriad and cheap stores around here.

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    1. With that argument one could say we shouldn't complain about anything at all since we have the luxury of using the internet and living in first world countries. None of us think these stores owe us anything. We're merely venting, comparing trends, and discussing helpful alternatives that will help resellers and collectors reading along. Everyone has to stay on top of the trends in their field and innovate to remain successful. Why aren't we free to discuss and investigate?

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    2. You started a great discussion, Van. One more example of why Goodwill ought to think about their local customers: My friend, who is a teacher, used to get a lot of great quality things at Goodwill to use in her class room (wood toys, art supplies, terrariums, quality bound book series). She has complained that the recent offerings are small and way over-priced - and most of the stuff they put out on the shelves for kids are now cheap dollar store items. Teachers and local schools are often on meager budgets. It makes sense that Goodwill would sell quality kids stuff in their stores for local people to enjoy and use as part of their charity mission. I even think they should offer teacher discounts on educational stuff. No, they don't owe it to any locals, but it makes sense and would create a lot more "goodwill" towards their stores in general.

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    3. I'm glad I started the discussion. When I started writing the post I felt like Goodwill was getting kind of greedy. I've changed my mind on that one. I'd forgotten the definition of a non-profit business according the IRS. Of course, they have the right to maximize their earnings in every way. This doesn't mean they shouldn't be honest, professional, and dedicated to quality.

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    4. Fenn! Where do you live in Ohio? My boyfriend is going to Columbus & Bedford for Thanksgiving & I'm going to send him to some thrift stores on my behalf. I also told him it would be a good time to get me a Christmas present at any antique mall in the area. Or finally convince his grandpa to give us his set of pink Butterprint Bake Serve & Store.

      Are you near there? Any recommendations?

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    5. I understand that thrift stores need to make money, and I certainly don't feel like I am "owed" anything. What annoys me most about it is the haphazard and uninformed nature of the way I see thrift stores these days pricing anything that they think is an antique. Not because they know anything about them or appreciate any intrinsic value that the items have, but because they mistakenly think that just because something is "old" it must be worth money. So you end up with horribly damaged 20s veneer furniture, really worthy only of the curb or a complete costly restoration, priced for what I would sell a mint version of the same piece for in my shop. And I'm sorry but what I do is not something that "anyone" could do. I've spent years educating myself about antiques, and am still doing so every day. I work 7 days a week, usually during hours when everyone else I know is still sleeping. I am constantly hustling trying to grow and sustain my business. Should I be "grateful"? Well, I'm grateful that I don't live under a bridge, and that I can pay my bills doing something that I enjoy, but running a business and depending on it for my financial security isn't happy lollipop funtime, it's my JOB and I have to take it seriously as such. Yes, thrift stores are well within their rights to pick out all the goodies for eBay and overprice what is left. And I am within my rights not to shop there if I feel like everything that they are selling is overpriced picked over garbage. And I won't be the only one to make that choice. Yes, I resell things to people who don't want to get up when it's still dark outside and dig through dusty barns and piles of trash for them, and they pay me what that is worth to them; but when you factor in the cost of doing business and time, I probably make minimum wage. I get to make it working for me, not at McDonalds, so that's something, but it's a far cry from the TV version of what a picker does and what they make. As for thrift stores not being in the business of providing low cost items to low income folks, well, that may technically be the case. However, poor people are no doubt being crunched by the trend of overpricing and cherry picking, as well. Some single mom who needs a dresser for her kid isn't going to pay 150 for one with a busted drawer just because some idiot in the back wrote "old" on the label. She's going to go to Wal Mart and settle for the 75 dollar new pressboard piece of crap, and instead of getting a quality item for a reasonable price and the addition of a little elbow grease, she's going to get sucked further into the cycle of cheap, disposable, unsustainable consumer crap.

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  31. I see nothing wrong with the whole concept of having an online store. Even though the Goodwill is non profit, they still need money to stay in business. If my local goodwill offered an Ebay coordinator position, I would definitely take it!

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  32. @Van. You're right. That's a very good point.

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  33. Here in the UK charities have been doing this for quite some time. It means that the idea of 'thrifting' is almost redundant in some areas/cities. Our thrift stores are called 'charity shops' and quite honestly they are now pricing up everything whether it is vintage or not - many of the charities sift out 'vintage' before it even hits the racks and sell at a higher price elsewhere - in fact my mum used to volunteer at a shop and helped sift out the valuable books etc.

    Whilst I understand the idea of charities wanting to make more money I think it's getting a little out of hand here now. My job is to work with the poorer people in my city who can no longer rely on charity shops for second hand clothes because they are actually in some cases more highly priced than buying new - and we aren't talking lovely vintage dresses or anything so decadent!

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    1. I see the rise in thrift store prices changing where charities get goods for low income families and individuals. I'm sure many people will be willing to donate quality clothing and housewares directly to where their needed and cut out the "Thrift Store" middle man.

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  34. One other thing I thought of regarding Goodwill: I went to their page and read their actual mission statement. Here is the main tenant:

    "Goodwill works to enhance the dignity and quality of life of individuals and families by strengthening communities, eliminating barriers to opportunity, and helping people in need reach their full potential through learning and the power of work."

    Given this mission statement I do believe it is in keeping with their goals to share the bounty of their higher prices and increased revenue with GW store employees. (Many of the employees have gone through their job training and placement.) A higher wage or better incentives increase the quality of life for employees, in keeping with their charity goals, and would make us all feel a bit better about paying higher prices. The employees are more often than not members of the immediate community, so if they're being treated well and paid better then that would in essence strengthen the community. I just don't feel confident that they're following through with this, but maybe I'm wrong.

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    1. I think we can definitely say there's some hypocrisy in their mission statement.

      This is a tricky one, because they are a "not for profit" trying to raise funds for other causes, I can see how they can "excuse" paying employees less so the funds can benefit other causes. This isn't fair with past scandals revealing what they pay higher ups compared to the workers lower on the totem poll, but that's how it is nearly every single company out there.

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  35. Goodwill here hasn't jumped on the internet band wagon, thank god. They do however have in store auctions, along with Salvation Army. The Goodwill near my home usually had a bunch of junk, but Salvation Army in both stores I go to with auctions always has items that shock me that people donate & leave me in awe.

    I really hope Value Village never jumps on, especially being a for profit thrift. I have found some of my best treasures there & continue to do so. They do use their glass cases.. there was a figurine, priced at $299.99! NO JOKE! If it's still there next time ago (this VV is an hour away) totally taking a picture.

    I'd get really sad if all the thrifts started doing this, but really, what can you do.

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  36. We never have Thrift Store in-store Auction that I've witnessed in Florida. Not sure I've seen any figurine for $299.99 either! I've seen high prices, but damn! I can see where they're coming from, if some collector out there has the money and really wants the piece, they'll pay that price for it. But pricing like that takes the "thrift" out of "thrift store".

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  37. I don't think GW does instore Auctions here in Memphis, either. However, There was a collection of Star Trek dvds and collectibles being sold for $499.99 in the front case. Not sure if it's worth that or not. But if they are going to price items like this in the store they have to realize they are catering to a different "clientele": dealers, collectors, mid-high income earners, etc.

    At least S.A still does half price Wednesday on clothes.

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  38. I really should have read through all the replies, but I simply can't due to time restraints. I was offered a part time position doing this. As they laid it out, I had to work weekends, nights, and holidays, with two double shifts during the week. I said no thank you I have a family I like to see. When I got home I did the calculations. Do you know it came to 32 hours a week, just under what would be considered full time? They (just like Walmart) are taking advantage of employees by making them work just a few hours under full time so that they don't have to pay any benefits. So essentially you are working your ass off, nearly full time, no benefits, for minimum wage. Doesn't sound like a very charitable organisation to me. My donations go to church, hospital, or other thrifts that spread the money earned throughout the community. I'm over Goodwill. XXX Jet

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    1. Love knowing this info from the inside. The way they treat employees definitely doesn't go with their mission statement!

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