Thrift stores have been closed for about a month now. That’s a sentence I thought I’d never write, but knee-deep into COVID-19 with no relief in sight, we’re all just hoping that things get better. I’m publishing this a month after I’m writing this, so maybe things will have gotten better. It’s hard to say. I went to drive around yesterday and look at what’s changed, specifically, whether thrift stores received any illegally dumped donations.
Only one out of four was like this.
This was also my old thrift store. Its drop-off area is obscured enough from regular view where people can illegally dump and run, there aren’t any clear signs indicating that people cannot dump or that there are security cameras, so they did. When I worked this door in the mornings, I didn’t get a lot of overnight dumps, but we’d get the occasional item. This would not have happened on a normal day, so though I didn’t get out of my car to assess any of the value of these items, I would say, collectively, this was a community problem.
Where can people moving or downsizing drop off their excess stuff?
Some trailers are open, at least when I last dropped off some books, but it feels like there are fewer options out there. The dumpster near the apartment-mansion had some non-household garbage in it. Nothing I would have picked out, but it was still different than the normal bags of …assumedly household garbage. So I went, dressed like I was going out for a walk, with my gloves in my best journalistic intentions to see what was out there. The main purpose was to warm up my car, though. It took about three miles before my car, which had sat since Monday, drove like it normally did.
I drove aimlessly until I thought of this idea to check out local thrift stores.
After driving behind the back of my old thrift store, which had no signs of dumping, I took out my notepad and started jotting down travelogue notes, I suppose. I drove past the closed Gamestop and open curb-side pick-up bookstore from last time. The bookstore was closed. Restaurants were take-out only. I guess the best way to describe it would be driving around just before midnight on a Saturday night, but in full 8am daylight, and seeing only seldom stores open.
It felt weird but I hadn’t warmed up my car full yet so I kept going.
On the way to the second thrift store, I noticed a military recruitment office was busy, but I didn’t stop in to ask questions. The second thrift store I drove past, my former favorite – the bin store – even though it was grimy on good days, had signs saying NO DUMPING and that they’d reopen about ten days ago. There were people on bicycles and on foot hanging out near the dumpster. I didn’t ask them for their thoughts on the matter. Instead, I continued on to the third thrift store. A smoothie shop was open, like an oasis of opulent vanity in this desolate wasteland even before COVID-19, but my thirst was for seeing the world.
The third thrift store digitally advertised its hours like nothing was different.
Other than being closed, except for one vehicle in its parking lot, it looked no different than driving around before it was open. There weren’t areas to throw would-be donations, either, so it was impressively clean. I chose not to listen to any CDs, instead let the anxious radio announcers and commercials attempt to enter my ears, as I went to the fourth thrift store on my drive. I saw no cops, but there was still traffic. Someone had honked their horn at me because I didn’t dart out into traffic to take a right, so some things were still the same.
The fourth thrift store had a donation box outside its closed doors.
I had nothing to donate to this steel box of about seven feet tall with a door allowing people to deposit donations like they were returning library books, other than my time to documenting the climate, and although the area would have been secure enough for me to jump out of my running car to see if there was anything behind it, I had no reason to do anything like that. Two mis-matched shoes sat to its right. That was the only sign of disrespect toward this thrift store.
Otherwise, all “essential” businesses were open, and everything else was closed.
I’m not sure how essential home improvement businesses are, but I suppose if your toilet overflows, that could be essential to fix. They had people measured out in six-foot distances. Nearby grocery stores were still open. I have no valid reason yet to go back to one. I have enough food to last me for months. The thing I might run out of first might be coffee filters, but that’s probably months out, still.
The drive back home felt like it always had up until months ago.
There were still cars out on the road. The thing that might have struck me the most was a local business on the corner of a strip-mall that had closed up. It was a video store. This local store was a local establishment that sold audio and video equipment. It was obviously a family-owned business because everything about it was amateur appearing to be professional. I’d never seen or thought of the store before, much more than noting its existence and that their specialty was in non-English materials, because it’d always just been there. There was a pawn shop that had been its neighbor years ago before that pawn shop moved into a bigger space. That store had just plugged away for probably years.
Will it reopen?
Will the other “non-essential” businesses that couldn’t sell products for months at a time reopen? Ephemeral goods stores, like florists, will suffer.
Do what you can to support who you can.
|Sources: My driving experience.|
|Inspirations: As I wrote, I took a more newspaper-style approach. I wasn’t thinking directly of writers like Charles Mudede from The Stranger, but writing this felt a little like his style, where he interjects his perspective into the scenes like someone riding a train and observing events.|
|Related: Other Travelogue Trivialities and Thrifting Adventures essays.|
|Picture: My old squeeze.|
|Written On: 2020 April 12 [Midnight to 12:29am. Gdocs.]|
|Last Edited: 2020 April 15 [Adapted from Gdoc, so, second draft; final draft for the Internet.]|