Thrift shop volunteers Linda Moorey (left) and Kay Ross are often dealing with mess left behind by donors. Photo: John Boivin

Trash to treasure to trash: Castlegar thrifts deal with waste

Volunteers ask public to be considerate when leaving donations at the door

Volunteers at a Castlegar thrift store are asking locals to be a little more thoughtful with their donations.

They say they are being swamped with waste and garbage.

“People drop things off after-hours. Some mornings you go down there, you cannot get in the door from the outside for the stuff that’s been left overnight,” says Bonnie Thompson, the chair of the St. David’s Thrift shop. “The whole area is jam-packed with donations.”

But that’s the problem. The discarded stuff is marginal to begin with, but then high-graders pick through it before the thrift store staff can.

“If it’s left overnight, or over the weekend, the dumpster divers go through it and take all the good stuff, so they can resell it, and the rest of the donations are left scattered around,” says Thompson. “It’s left wet, dirty, and we can’t sell it and then we have to throw it in the garbage.”

A generous landlord allows the thrift store to use their dumpsters, but plenty of material that’s unsalable the staff have to deal with themselves.

“Please don’t leave TVs, or exercise machines, we don’t have room. Take them to the Re-store,” says Thompson, pointing to the Habitat for Humanity store at the south end of town.

“And we don’t have room for mattresses either. Just take them to the dump.”

The thrift store raised about $50,000 last year for two local churches from the sale of cast-away stuff.

But Thompson says they have to go though a lot of chaff to find the salable goods.

“Please, if you are going to bring donations, which we would love to have, make sure it is something we can sell,” says Thompson. “We can’t sell things that are torn, or dirty. We get sometimes one shoe, or one slipper. Really? We can’t sell that.”

But most of all, Thompson asks donors to drop goods off during their business hours, Tuesday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m..

“There’s a sign and doorbell that says “Ring and we’ll come out,” says Thompson. “I think people are afraid we’ll say ‘no.’”

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