I’ll conclude this week of dredging up thrift store misadventuring memories by saying: I mostly advocate for donating things versus trashing/recycling them, (unless the item is worthless or damaged,) because there is a good chance that your donations could be resold. That resale will mostly help the thrift store’s rankings, but it also helps unlucky people get back on their feet. I just don’t support trashing perfectly good items because they have the wrong color.
My morning duties consisted of emptying all the bins.
Let’s say last week’s sale was on green tags. What happens the day after those “75% off green-tag” sales? The entire store would be gutted of green-tag items. I worked at one of the two larger, corporatized thrift stores. I was told by a few of my coworkers that had worked at the other that they’re both the same. I can only relay what I saw: every green-tag item would be thrown into rolling trash bins that I would then throw into the trash compactor, shown above.
It was nihilistic and terrible. Even for a non-materialistic person.
I threw away items that were more valuable and useful than what I owned, and what many other people I’ve met or know could still use, and yet, because no one bought this weird item for $0.99 or $9.99, it was destroyed. There were constant rumblings that asked: “Why don’t they donate these to other people? Or at least let us have some of these things?” The best way to demoralize your employees is to constantly remind them that they aren’t any better than slaves.
How can we fix this?
It’s the big-box business model, and I don’t entirely loathe the process. Without some degree of inventory management, you’ll end up with a business suffocated by inventory. But is there no better way to “help” your employees than by indoctrinating them with anti-union sentiments, forcing them to work at a break-neck pace for fear of punishment/firing, or sowing seeds of desperation by rejecting any options for generosity, all in exchange for minimum wage?
That question might imply giving the donations to the workers.
The answer might be that, or it might be enabling the more creative workers to try ways to sell the donations elsewhere – maybe in local ads or online? Maybe instead of merely destroying yesterday’s “75% off” donations, they could be sent somewhere? The glassware, a daily trashing staple, might be hard to ship, but these are all thoughts that I had when I worked at some thrift store, somewhere, over five years ago. Maybe, now, this store or the company is more humane?
How much of this was nostalgic, romantic sentiments?
The well-oiled machine, near-militaristic in cranking through clothing, media, furniture, and other miscellanea must churn out a certain volume of product daily to continue its justification of money toward workers. Compassion and materialism are not important; only that which serves to impress the stakeholders with breaking revenue or exceeding volumetric goals.
I’ll donate anything that I think isn’t trash/valuable.
|Sources: My professional experiences.|
|Inspirations: I had trouble getting the inspiration to write this essay. Some of the other ones I wrote much earlier. That was just straightforward talking about the facts. Maybe here it took longer because I needed to get further along in my move process, so I’d have more thoughts about materialism? Probably, because now I don’t feel like thinking about these experiences for a while. It wasn’t all bad, but it was difficult.|
|Related: Other Moving Zeal essays.|
|Photo: Trash compactor’s return.|
|Written On: January 20th [30 minutes]|
|Last Edited: First draft; final draft.|