SVDP Thrift Store - Monday - Saturday, 10am - 4pm
A Day at the Thrift Store
Our largest enterprise is our Thrift Store. Last year this business generated nearly one-half million dollars thereby significantly supporting our other charitable services. What isn’t always obvious is how hard the volunteers at the store, all 100+ of them, work to get these results.
It all starts at receiving which is open 10 am to 4 pm daily, Monday through Saturday. At these times volunteers are prepared to receive donations. The receiving door and the cashier station in the store are our two primary interfaces with the public. Many of our customers and benefactors pass through here and that experience sets the tone for their perception of SVDP. Volunteers in both these roles must demonstrate a good balance of generosity and discipline. The volunteers in receiving are reminded to be friendly but firm, showing appreciation for the donations received but not accepting items that clearly are not suitable for use or are excessively dirty.
As soon as items are unloaded, the work begins. Clothing, bedding and the like are reloaded into carts and pushed forward for sorting. Furniture is cleaned and placed on the showroom floor for pricing and sale as quickly as possible to keep the receiving area reasonably clear. All “male-type items” (as one of our volunteers calls them) are placed on a rack by the back door for movement to the repair shop. This primarily includes appliances, electronics, tools, and sporting and garden equipment. The volunteers in the shop ensure that the donations they process are operational, cleaned and priced before putting them out for display. The clothing and household items are also sorted, cleaned and priced. This is a lot of work and generally our volunteers maintain a positive orientation. Because we use no professional cleaning service (that would cost too much and erode our profits), we still have to clean a portion of the items received before they can be sold. The reality is we are more flexible with our standards than most of the other organizations operating in this area. Thankfully, the majority of the contributions are in good condition, new, or never used.
Besides the shop items and the clothing and household items, there are a number of specialty areas; children’s toys, pictures and paintings, shoes, bedding, ornamental flowers, baskets, sewing materials and jewelry, for example. We receive seasonal items all year round and have special areas for Christmas, Easter, Halloween, Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day, as well as for the annual Collectibles Sale. Even though most items received are moved onto the floor in about one to three days, this explains why our storage area is nearly as large as the store. There is a monthly “one-half off” clothing and shoe sale, seasonal “$2 bag sale” in the spring and the summer, and the Collectibles Sale. There is a huge amount of preparation work, both year round and the week of the sale. The Collectibles Sale is a signature event for our customers, and a critical funding source for school supplies. It takes literally thousands of hours of preparation.
Every major product group has at least one volunteer who manages it. Many of our product managers go to considerable lengths to mark items with reasonable sales prices; touring other comparable stores, looking at prices in retails chains for comparison, and even checking the internet.
The final contact by customers is with our cashiers. Whether they are dealing with our paying customers or voucher users (individuals who can receive free clothing, bedding and household items along with clothing replacements every four months), their aim is to be courteous and professional. The cashier’s job is probably the most trying in the store. On a bad day, business remains so brisk it is difficult to take a break.
The end result is that we are seen by most of our customers as providing a valuable service in a courteous and friendly manner. We hope that every day we come closer to our objective of providing affordable, quality merchandise to a large cross section of the valley’s population.