I just made a phone call to a person looking to donate some large items to my church’s thrift store. The call was to set a pick up time, procure the address, and explain the possible fees associated with our services. Now it may sound strange that we have fees when people want to give us stuff but it’s a necessary thing. Let me explain.
Every business has overhead. We have to pay rent, utilities, and I don’t know if anyone has noticed, but gas is close to $4 a gallon! When people want to donate large items that we have to pick up it costs us money to go and pick them up and there’s always chance that the items will not be suitable for donation. Depending on the condition of the item(s) or the items themselves (i.e., we don’t have a demand for everything that everyone wants to get rid of), we may not even end up taking the item. So what happens then? We’ve just wasted time and gas coming to inspect items that we can’t sell.
Now we’re not unreasonable; we have boundaries. Inside of what we consider local we don’t charge to come and inspect your items. Outside of what’s local we have to charge for even making the trip, whether we take the items or not. Again, gas is close to $4 a gallon and we’re using gas guzzling trucks, not Toyota Priuses! Now in the event that we don’t want the items being offered for donation we offer a removal service for those who still want the items out of the house. The price for this service varies depending on the size, quantity, and location of items, that is, their location in the house (upper floors costs more money).
So the reality is this: People think that they’re doing us a favor by donating items to the thrift store, and they are, and we greatly appreciate it. At the same time, we’re doing them a favor by removing unwanted items from their homes. Many times it’s a case of people wanting to get rid of their garbage for free. We’re happy to help, but not at a substantial loss. I know that people think it’s all profit for us because the items we sell have been donated. Reality check: it costs us money to even function! You always have to keep the overhead in mind.