Other shops increasingly represent causes hopefully likewise worthy. McCoy wants to promote her newly relocated shop, of course, but not just that. She worries that too few donated items end up where they will do the most good. McCoy bashes no competitors, only asks that we target our kindness next time we clean out our closets or basements. “We’re hoping people pay attention where they take donations,” said McCoy, the society’s director of special projects.
Demand for charity soars. Money to meet demand does not. Groups such as the society open thrift shops as a source of income. The society’s Louisville-based human services — also offered to Hoosiers — would struggle without sales of recycled sofas and shirts and shoes and such. Its four regional stores ring up at least $1 million worth annually. “It’s something we depend on,” McCoy said.
Goodwill of Southern Indiana operates 11 stores that generate a whopping 90 percent of its revenue for aid to disabled children and others. “They see the Goodwill model, they see it works,” Michelle Dayvault, a Goodwill vice president, said of the ever-more-crowded field of thrift stores.
As competition for donated goods increases, along with competition to sell it, will all these places thrive? Can they? “It’s hurting us, to some degree,” McCoy said. But “it is free enterprise.”
New Hope Services recently closed its store in downtown Jeffersonville when it was not so much as breaking even. But Jim Bosley, that agency’s president, said such shops remain in New Hope’s plans. He said research indicates that the more of them in an area, the better.
Bosley also suggests we weigh to which agencies we contribute. “People tend to do whatever’s easier for them,” he said.
Easier may mean not a store at all but one of those bins set up in parking lots or alongside streets by an outfit or two seemingly without stakes in our area. In their wake, Goodwill and The Salvation Army, another thrift-shop player, joined last fall the plea for people to give to recognized, renowned local organizations. “It is a little bit scary,” McCoy added of the full-court press for donations.
Or as Goodwill’s Dayvault put it, “I wouldn’t say we’re worried, I’d say we are aware. It’s something we’re keeping on our radar screen.”
Remember, doing the right thing only begins with rounding up what we no longer need.