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Thrift Shops Experiencing Donation Overload

09:00 June 08, 2020
By: Graham Andreae

Around the nation, in homes everywhere, families are finding that they have carloads of things that they want to get rid of. Many people used quarantine to do a little spring cleaning and sort through old and unwanted items, clean out closets, and give their homes a refresh, emptying them of old and worn-out possessions. But with thrift shops being largely closed since COVID-19 stay-at-home orders went into effect, these items simply piled up and couldn't be donated. Now that thrift shops are reopening, there is a mass exodus of boxes of treasures to discard, heading from homes to donation centers.

As a result, thrift shops and other businesses like them are under immense pressure from having so much inventory and are now experiencing a new zenith.

According to reporting by CNN, thrift shops in the Georgia area are experiencing an overwhelming demand for donation centers. As a result, thrift shop owners have had to request that customers hold back their donations so that customers may turn over the shop's inventories before taking more donations. This a problem affecting thrift shops all over the country.

In New Orleans, thrift shops are experiencing something similar. Founded in 1957, Bridge House Thrift Store supports those who are recovering from addiction and works with local houses to support those in need. The thrift shop is closely connected to Bridge House and Grace House, which are houses for those in recovery from addiction.

In terms of business, the owner of Bridge House Thrift Shop Eric Sylvester said that their donations were "so very great that [they] have trouble processing it in the timely manner that [they] normally would. "We are getting twice to three times as many donations as normal," Sylvester said.

One of the complicating factors of this whole process, unsurprisingly, is safety and how to make the donation of household items as contactless as possible.

Sylvester said that their own process of cleaning, upon receipt of an item, involves going through several steps. First, each item is sent via a box truck to their warehouse. Then the item is sorted, cleaned, priced, packaged, and finally shipped back to the store for sale. The cleaning process itself is very detailed and involves vacuuming of sofas and items made from fabric or similar materials. Electronic devices are wiped down. Glassware is also rinsed out and cleaned before going back to the sales floor.

Sylvester said that they rely greatly on their community's donations, which make all the stores so popular.

"We're really grateful for the entire community. Everyone has their favorite store," said Sylvester.

They are open for donations today.

Bridge House Thrift Store, 4243 Earhart Blvd., 504-821-2479; and 7901 Airline Dr. in Metairie, 504-737-4752; bridgehouse.org/support-us/thrift-stores.

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