The Salvation Army Can’t Seem To Save Itself

Monday, March 23, 2009 3:00
Posted in category Shopping
<div class=\"postavatar\">The Salvation Army Can’t Seem To Save Itself</div>

Post written by Tanya Doyle

The Salvation Army Can’t Seem To Save Itself

 

One of my favorite Thrift Stores is The Salvation Army Family Center in town that I go to once a week on my shopping day.  They have books, clothing and household items from beds and dishes to bicycles.  They price their items with 5 color coded tags, presumably to differentiate what day of the week they were put out for sale to effectively manage inventory and weed out those items that haven’t sold.  One day a week, 4 of those 5 tags are 50% off on clothing, except the most popular items such as outerwear in winter, shorts in summer, etc.  Books, household and miscellaneous items aren’t included in the sale.  But I can get some great items for a fraction of the original retail price.  They have hundreds of thousands of items so it takes some patience and persistence to go through so many to find what you need.  Last week I found 2 new Mini Boden hoodies and a pair of Keen sandals for my son for $2.99 each that normally retail for $50 apiece.  Once, I found a new pair of Dansko clogs for $2.49 that I listed and sold on Ebay for over $100.  I don’t find killer buys like that every week but often enough to make it worth my time and I save a lot of money over retail prices.

Apparently, The Salvation Army, a multi-million dollar non-profit organization appears to be going bankrupt.  I’m no rocket scientist, but exactly how does a corporation that subsists entirely on donations get anywhere near bankruptcy?  These people have their hands out everywhere I go.  From Thanksgiving till Christmas, in front of every store I go into, there’s someone in a ratty Santa hat with a red bucket clanging a seriously annoying bell and begging for donations.  I’ve yet to meet a friendly one.  They all stare with the same baleful expression and I’ve yet to meet a one that shows the slightest bit of cheer.  Which shocks the heck out of me since I believe the whole point of them being there at that specific time of year is to play on people’s generosity and Christmas spirit.   I would venture to guess that the only donations they actually get out of that is from people paying them to stop ringing that awful bell.  There’s a Donation Center in town that accepts automobile donations as well as everything else.  They even accept air miles these days, through the United Airlines Charity Miles Program, with a minimum donation of 1,000 air miles or you can sign up to donate every mile you fly instead of using it for your own air travel.  You can volunteer your time by becoming an ePal with the eMentoring literacy program, you can host an exchange student, foster care, disaster relief or a number of other volunteer opportunities.  And, of course, they always accept cash.

I have made friends with a couple of the regular employees and so I usually get a heads-up on upcoming sales as well as general information.  Recently, they had some big wigs from the New York Corporate Salvation Army come in to reassess their business plan as well as the employee base.  The Corporate guys apparently cleaned house.  They dismissed 1 manager as well as 15 workers, some of which were 15-20 year Salvation Army employees.  They also made some major changes in the floor plan.  They raised the prices on most clothing items to nearly double.  They eliminated the catch-all racks that were conveniently located between the dressing rooms and the register because they thought it looked tacky.  C’mon guys, it’s a Thrift Store, not Saks.  The racks were great because if something didn’t fit or if you decided that you didn’t want something you could just pop it on the rack.  You could also have one last rootle round and maybe find something that you wanted.  Every now and then an employee would gather up all the items and redistribute them.  Now they expect you to take the items that you don’t want back to where you found them.  Yeah, right.  And I’m going to win the lottery without even buying a ticket.  You can imagine how classy and chic the discarded clothes and hangers make the place look.  And since there’s no more room to leave your stuff in the dressing room, people take them just outside and cram them onto the nearest rack no matter what’s on it.  Great management plan.  They’ve also moved all the shoes from the respective department (kids, ladies, men’s) to one big lump in the back of the store.  So what was once simple and uncomplicated has now been over thought.  The same corporate suits that are running a non-profit into bankruptcy are now trying to maximize their profits and basically muck-up a great thing. With the sheer volume of donated items and the fact that they have no overhead, how can they possibly be losing money?  These suits wouldn’t be caught dead shopping here so how can they possibly decide on the floor and business plan at the local level?  How the heck could they possibly even relate to the typical shopper and the slightest inkling of what they want?   I noticed that the sections the Salvation Army regions have been divided into the Eastern Section also includes Puerto Rico and The Virgin Islands.  Since they are nowhere near the Eastern U.S., I guess they figured the poor slobs in the cold states needed a nice, warm place to fly (with their donated miles) to make some floor plan changes now and then.  Sounds to me as if there are a few too many well paid suits making decisions that should be made in-store at the local level.  I say, trim some fat from the fat cats at the top.

Even if you aren’t the Thrift Store shopping type and you make enough that you don’t need to save money by shopping for gently used items, I’m sure you could use a nice tax break rather than forking over that money to Uncle Sam.  Drop us a line; we’d love to know what you think.

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3 Responses to “The Salvation Army Can’t Seem To Save Itself”

  1. colby says:

    June 3rd, 2010 at 7:26 pm

    I congratulate you for this blog.I’ve really enjoyed.I sincerely thank you again

  2. Barias says:

    May 24th, 2010 at 4:25 am

    trying to read your post. Your theme is not viewing right using IE6.

  3. Daniel Saunders says:

    April 8th, 2010 at 4:38 pm

    You have made some very valid points here. I have done a fair amount of research on this particular topic, and its seems most readers agree with you.

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