GF thrift store clarifies they do not cut up discarded clothing

Shara JJ Cooper
By Shara JJ Cooper
October 1st, 2013

Grand Forks’ Hospital Auxiliary Thrift Store (HATS) wants to make it clear that they do not have a policy to cut up clothes before putting them in their dumpster.

Facebook was abuzz early this month after some concerned citizens had gotten word that the thrift store cut up clothes to prevent dumpster divers from digging in the bins.

“We have no such policy,” said HATS president Carole Richmond. She added that she hopes no one would be doing it on their own initiative and can’t imagine why anyone would take the time.

“We are already so busy,” she said.

Dumpster divers are frequent visitors to the thrift store dumpster. Richmond said they simply ask them not to make a mess. Some are respectful, while others aren’t.

Sorting through clothes takes up the bulk of the volunteer’s time and because the store gets so many donations and has limited room, they have to be careful about what they sell.

“We don’t sell anything that is ragged or dirty,” said Richmond, adding that they also don’t sell clothes that are stained. The thrift store is able to wash some items but it is impossible to clean up everything.

The general idea is for them to sell items that they would consider buying, whether it’s clothing, underwear, shoes or household items.

“We ask ‘would I buy this,’” she said, noting that each volunteer will have a slightly different idea of what can be sold.

A lot of the items end up at the landfill, which is where it should have gone in the first place, said Richmond. People will donate items that are not even worthy of rags.

However, they do try and recycle clothing whenever possible. HATS donates to other non-profit organizations as well as to burn victims and low-income children. They also allow people from the Boundary Women’s Coalition to come in and shop for free.

Once a month they cut up usable fabric and put them in a “rag bag” so they get a new purpose.

Despite their efforts to recycle, plenty still gets thrown in the dumpster, which is emptied three times a week.

“That is our biggest expense,” said Richmond. “There is no way we can sell everything.”

 One of the biggest problems the thrift store faces is people making donations when they aren’t open.

“We are thankful for donations,” said Richmond. “But that is dumping.”

The thrift store has hours that are clearly labelled at the drop-off point. However, donations are still left out in the alley.

Dumpster divers get first pick of these donations and whatever is left when the store opens is usually garbage, explained Richmond. It’s even worse when the weather is bad. Even if there were sellable items in the donation pile, once they are wet, dirty or damaged, they can’t be sold and everything goes in the dumpster.

“We can’t be expected to clean and dry every item,” said Richmond, adding that people will leave items in the alley that they never accept, like electronics or mattresses.

Work for the volunteers at HATS would be smoother if the items donated were in good condition and were only left at the drop-off point during store hours. HATS is closed Sundays and Mondays.

HATS is a strictly volunteer-run organization that supports health care in the Boundary. 

Categories: General

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