Editorial: Thrift stores wish you wouldn’t do this

Donated VHS tapes and other items decorate the sidewalk outside Angel Street thrift shop. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

We get it. Sometimes the most convenient time to run an errand, like finally bringing in that donate pile to the thrift store it’s intended for, is before work. When said store is still closed.

But sadly, most of the time what happens is the bags will get picked through by the homeless. Now, you might say, fine, if they need it. But as we witnessed in front of the Angel Street thrift store on a  recent morning, this also means the donated items will end up everywhere, including in the gutter, where they become filthy and useless.

Prior to writing this rant, we spoke with the head cashier at Angel Street (at its new location on West 22nd Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues) Tiffany Davenport.

Of course, said Davenport. she and her coworkers would appreciate if people brought their donations during business hours, but ultimately Davenport said, “You can’t help what people do. We could try to enforce what we want them to do but at the end of the day, it’s their decision.”

That said, they figure they’ve lost plenty of donations intended for the shop, including some pricey, designer items. This is why one idea they’re toying with, a donation bin outside, could also be problematic, because it won’t necessarily stop anyone from fishing through it and making an even bigger mess.

“Let’s say someone donates a Balenciaga dress. You’ll have somebody who’ll be like, ‘Let me see what it’s in it.’”

We confess to having initially intended to make this rant about donation etiquette go on longer but Davenport saved us from ourselves. On Friday, the mess outside the shop included donated VHS tapes, which to us seemed to ignore the spirit of the act of donation, which is to give away something others might actually want. However, according to Davenport, there is still demand for VHS.

“Actually a lot of people still have VHS systems,” she said. “We have one lady who comes in all the time and that’s all she buys, so we’re happy to get them.”

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