Transitions With Jean Blog

Being nice to your favorite thrift store

November 3, 2019

Dear Jean,
I work at a thrift store. Many times, people bring in items that we cannot accept. It makes them cranky when we turn away their donations that they have taken the effort to bring to us. Please run a list for your readers of items that shouldn’t be taken to a thrift store.

Answer: Thanks for the suggestion. Yes, dear readers, your gifts are appreciated, but sometimes they aren’t a good match for the thrift store.
First, it doesn’t make sense for them to take items that cost more to handle than they can earn from the sale. Those things include large appliances like washers, dryers, stoves/ovens, water heaters. It also includes sleeper sofas, plumbing fixtures, building materials, (think Habitat Restore), swing sets, swimming pools, carpeting and pads.

They turn down electronics that have a fee to recycle, such as CRT TVs and computer monitors, and items with freon like air conditioners, dehumidifiers, refrigerators, freezers.

There are some children’s items that they are not allowed to sell because of safety. This includes car seats, cribs, and strollers.

They don’t have the resources to refurbish or fix your donation, so no items that “just need a fourth leg” or “have almost all of the parts”. Broken, ripped or heavily worn items have outlived their usefulness. Dispose of them.

Your thrift store will probably say “no” to mattresses and box springs. With the rise of bedbugs, they just don’t want to spread the critters.

Then, there is the yuck-factor. Please don’t give them items that are covered in pet hair or smelly from animals or basements.

Please don’t bring them the clothing with food spilled on it. They appreciate it if you bring them cleaned items. If you wouldn’t wear it, please don’t give it to someone else. When someone buys your donated items, you want to lift them up, not pull them down.

No auto parts like tires, batteries, oil, gas, antifreeze, wheels.

They can’t take your hazardous materials like flammables, combustibles, paint, aerosols, drain cleaners, pesticides, oven cleaner.

They also don’t take food items. Give your canned goods and personal care items to the food pantry.

Don’t make your problem their problem. Put your recyclables out at home, including newspapers, cardboard, plastics, junk mail, magazines.
When in doubt, call ahead and ask. Filling their dumpsters to dispose of items that are unusable can take money away from helping people, which is what they are all about.

Have you ever noticed who helps you at thrift stores? They often are retiree volunteers and folks who work there to make a living. They are a hard-working group. When you drive-up to donate, the attendants are trained to know what they can accept. Don’t be annoyed if they decline your gift. They are just following the rules they are given. Instead, give them a big smile and say thank you.

Your gifts give them and many others employment. In addition, when the folks who shop there buy your donated items, you will make a new family happy with their new-found treasures.

Jean Long Manteufel has published a second collection of her columns. You can purchase a copy at the Book Store, 293 W. Northland Ave., Appleton






Purchase "Transitions" Today!


Click for Printable Order Form

Click to Order Online

Click to Order on Amazon

Click to Order on Audible

Click to Order on iTunes

Number of Copies

Purchase "Transitions 2" Today!



Number of Copies