Wednesday, June 28, 2017


Yesterday was the weekly tag-sale at the thrift store––my first as a cashier. 

Every week, the donation-sorters use different colored tags to price items. Four weeks ago, new items went out with yellow tags; yesterday shoppers gleaned the sales floor for the remaining yellows, 75% off.

I was working the evening shift. One hour before the store closed at 9 p.m.,  a small group of shoppers came in through the automatic doors.

The manager leaned across the counter and whispered to me, "Everything that's off a hanger or on the floor at the end of the night goes to salvage."

We'd been salvaging all evening, in between customers:

culling the inventory, that is, gathering unsold or damaged clothes and tossing them in gaylord boxes to go the outlet store, their last-chance stop before they're ground up for industrial use or otherwise recycled. 

Why was the manager saying even good, newer stuff would get salvaged?

When the shoppers rolled their full carts up to the cash register at 8:59 p.m., I knew.
They had turned the store over, like creatures who aerate garden soil, leaving in their wake inside-out jeans on top of racks, dresses slipped to the floor, sweaters in the sportswear section and swimsuits in the sweaters, heaps of clothing sliding off fitting-room benches, shoes separated from their mates, and everywhere, everywhere, empty hangers.  

Turns out the manager is not psychic--these particular customers are known to do this. To put everything back in place would have taken us an hour--the cost in labor isn't deemed worth it.

And that, I realized as I tossed a silk shirt with the original manufacturer's $68 price tag into the salvage cart, is why you can find great deals at the outlet store.


ArtSparker said...

Urgghhh, Americans and stuff...hope this doesn't outweigh your enjoyment of other aspects of the job.

Frex said...

Oh, no, it doesn't affect my enjoyment---I like it--I mean, I find it all fascinating--the anthropology of U.S. material culture!

And it's all used stuff to begin with, spiraling on the recycling chain, so it's not like if I were working with new stuff at Target.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a real scrum! At least there is a chance the good stuff will still be bought and worn. As we have car boot slaes and Ebay in the UK and ever more charity shops , all the shops are always looking for stock.I have no idea how long stuff stays in stock or how the system works. Glad you are still enjoying the challenge.

Frex said...

CATHY: Yes, exactly---people know about the outlet store and the stuff will be combed through one more time.

I had to look up "scrum"---had a vague idea but no one here uses the word--hardly anyone plays rugby (though I do know of a young woman on a local team), but when I read the definition got a clear picture---
from the movies (specifically "Invictus" (2009)--about rugby in South Africa after Nelson Mandela became president).

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