The ladies at the Campbell River Hospice Thrift Store spend thousands of hours per year sorting donations

Thrift stores reap the benefits (and consequences) of spring cleaning

With spring cleaning season upon us, many are clearing out their excesses and feeling maybe someone else could get some use out of them.

Some have garage or yard sales, while others drop their old unwanted stuff off at local thrift stores.

Some do both – have a garage sale and donate what doesn’t sell.

Tiffany Dirks, manager of the Campbell River Hospice Thrift Store on Dogwood Street, says it’s important for people to realize that while they appreciate all the donations they get, some are more welcome than others.

Volunteers at that particular store put in over 6,000 hours per year, Dirks says, the large majority of which is sorting donations. They have anywhere from two to four volunteers sorting all day every day they’re open.

“We’re actually pretty lucky in that we get more usable stuff than not,” Dirks says, which is a situation she attributes to their drop-off system.

“We don’t have a drop box, so people have to actually bring it in, which I think makes a big difference,” Dirks says. It also helps reduce their wasted time and effort that they generally help people bring in their donations, “and we can say, when they’re unloading, ‘sorry, unfortunately we can’t take that.’”

Things like carseats, for example, may have life left in them, but they can’t legally be resold. Same goes for helmets of any kind.

They do their best to keep what they can’t accept out of the landfill, though.

The store has arrangements with other businesses, non-profits and charities for most of what they can’t re-sell, so much of what’s “waste” to them can still be used by someone somewhere.

They also get donations of things like empty – or almost empty – containers of household products, which they also transfer along to others who can use them.

“Rose Harbour will take in stuff like shampoo bottles, household cleaners, and that kind of thing, because, sure, they can be used, we just can’t sell them.”

And then there are the foot baths.

“We get a ton of foot baths,” Dirks says. “Soooo many foot baths. We just can’t sell them. It’s a hygiene issue.”

They also receive many donations of cracked or chipped plates, dishes, cookware, and coffee cups. These things are also on the list of things they don’t really want coming through the doors.

So what do they want?

Surprisingly, Dirks says, they make far more money for the Hospice Society from the sale of knick-knacks and trinkets than they do on anything else.

“You’d assume, looking at how much clothing we have and how much we move, that’s where the money is, but our clothing is so inexpensive that we just don’t make money off it, really,” she says with another chuckle. “Like, I mean, this rack,” she says, pointing just behind her, “is all, like, $.50. These coats,” she says, pointing to another rack, “are all $2.”

In general, however, they’ll take whatever people give them, and they’re happy they are in such a generous community.

“We’ve never seen the end of our pile,” Dirks says with a laugh.

“In the year and a half we’ve been open, we’ve never not had anything to sort.”

It would just cut down on the amount of work they need to do if people would ask themselves, “Would anyone pay money for this?” before they pack up their boxes to bring the stuff in.