I had been scanning barcodes on books and other media I wanted to get rid of and the two boxes I’ve abstracted in the photo below represent the media I wanted to donate below and the media I wanted to sell above. With these COVID-19 current events, thrift stores are temporarily [as of this writing] closed. Will they reopen after this essay publishes? Should I just recycle or throw out everything instead of donate it?
I think there will still be value in media.
It will just change in the face of this invisible threat that can hurt or kill us. When I worked in the thrift store seven years ago now, I would hop into moldy trailers to retrieve non-broken donations for sorters to sort through, sometimes with gloves, mostly without. We all had dirty jobs, but we were all told that counting money was worse, so we should be grateful for the cleanliness of the operation they had for us… well, it wasn’t that bad, but one guy volunteered to clean the floors after noticing how many people were calling out sick and he’d just mop up all the grime from the floors.
Years of grime on the floor of the back of the thrift store warehouse…
Whenever the CDC allows thrift stores and other non-essential businesses to reopen in the United States, how will thrift stores change? I have never donated purely trash because I saw what happened and I had to deal with throwing those donations away – both when I received donations at the door where you would donate it and from those awful trailers. I’ve always considered anything worth “a second chance” to be donatable since this thrift store was particularly ruthless toward any older books or media. It had to be. It was located nearby a few thriving bookstores, thrift stores, and other media sellers. This upscale location had to, therefore, present higher-quality materials to stand out from the nearby competition.
I would say recycle anything that is overly damaged.
Recycle any books without cover pages at home, because I threw out plenty of those books, since most places can’t legally resell them. They tend to be laxer when it comes to the arbitrary “not for resale” stickers. As general advice, anything that you know to be trash and want to avoid filling your garbage or recycle bin, or figuring out where your nearest dump, or figuring out how to pay for the dump fees, should just go there instead. Although the place I worked at did have a daily weight goal, that was just from the trailers, rather than “slightly used” mattresses or rusty equipment, to name two examples where I had to turn someone away and because I hadn’t, after a brief lecture, I had to throw them away.
That was how it was like pre-COVID-19.
How will sanitation practices change after we’ve, worldwide, been reminded of basic sanitation? One of the last thrift books I bought had dust between its pages because it hadn’t been looked at in so long. I just brushed the dust aside with a trivial laugh, like it wasn’t anything more than an inconvenience. Will we ever return to those days? Sure, there are people that remain skeptical and that’s fine. I’m not here to state much more than my perspective of what I’ve seen, which is, frankly: thrift stores are dirty. I wouldn’t be surprised if many of the thrift store workers that get sick frequently may have had mild bouts of COVID-19 and just worked through their sicknesses, large or small, until the stores themselves were shut down for a two-week minimum.
About a week ago, the company I worked for said they were proud of their sanitation efforts.
I laughed and knew that they had done nothing more than providing more cleaning supplies and lecture their employees to wash their hands because that’s how they acted when I worked there. It takes wide-sweeping action for long-term changes. Closing these stores might help in the long-term, but in the short-term, people are still moving around, and there are donation sites still open in the area, so these people might be risking their health unnecessarily. Over this past year and a half of donating things frequently, I have seen the value in donating, though, outside of purely altruistic reasons.
Sometimes, you’ve just gotta clear out things that aren’t worth much to you.
What I’d say on that end is that unless we reach a state of worldwide economic collapse, things will probably still hold value, so I am trying to keep my sanity by operating as close to that old idea of scanning barcodes for things, donating anything that doesn’t seem like I could locally sell it for a better price, and throwing away anything that’s just too broken down. I’ve bought many items that others have donated over the years, so I wouldn’t say your good-enough items are purely trash, but we’ll have to see how the reopened thrift stores and other markets will adjust and adapt to a larger unemployment rate, where those with more time may start figuring out how to flip items online or in-person – and that is to say, without any risk of any sort of viral infection that could, best-case, cause mild flu symptoms for longer than normal.
I’ll focus my short-term downsizing time on sorting piles: sell, donate, trash.
The “trash” pile will be the most obvious space-waster and easiest to parse through now, since the others will depend on markets. My former employer would throw out any older books, but I’ve seen others at quieter thrift stores without as competitive of nearby businesses, so if you feel your 60s encyclopedia set is too much of a burden now, you’ve tried selling it before with no results, I wouldn’t trash it yet. If the thrift store is open, check inside, and if you see other encyclopedias, it’ll probably be put on their shelf.
…Maybe even with newly-implemented sanitation practices?
|Sources: My personal and professional experiences.|
|Inspirations: I heard this notion when I was talking with someone about how I’ve been sorting through things. I’m trepidatious about even leaving our state-encouraged quarantine, not that it’s like the European countries where there are fine-imposed state-mandated quarantines, but it might be nice to donate this box to clear out some space.|
|Related: Other Downsizing Zeal and Thrifting Adventure essays.|
|Photo: Crappy photo, sorry. [Not sorry.]|
|Written On: 2020 March 23 [9pm to 9:34pm while listening to AMT.]|
|Last Edited: 2020 March 23 [First draft; final draft for the Internet.]|