UPDATED: Donating and Thrifting in Westchester County

Many of us enjoy the yin-yang of donating and thrifting. Clearing out some things, supporting a good cause, acquiring new treasures, usually for a pretty good price-it’s green and economical.  What’s not to love?

COVID has complicated everything. Today is National Thrift Shop Day, perfect time to update how that ecosystem is doing these days in Westchester County.

You know those stories that start with ‘I’ve got some good news, and I’ve got some bad news’?  Yep, this is one of them.

Its good to be a thrifter these days. In short, people are home, re-evaluating everything.  Much of that includes clearing out things. Things of all sorts of vintages, conditions, and price points are out there.

Value is ALWAYS in the eye of the beholder.  Because there’s generally so darn much of most everything out there, prices tend to be pretty reasonable. Best advice is know where the shops are, and call ahead to confirm hours of operation. And oh yes, bring cash!!

Ever donated goods to a thrift shop before?  You know you need to be committed to the process. Now, multiply that exponentially if you’re trying to line up donations during this pandemic.

It’s hard, but realize no one is being purposefully difficult.  And don’t take it personally. Understand the capabilities and responsibilities of these organizations. Under regular circumstances:

  • They operate in limited spaces
  • Volunteer pool usually retirees but even paid labor pools (Goodwill/Salvation Army) ebb and flow mightily
  • They know their buyers and will often screen/specialize in what they accept
  • They need to maximize their resources and take things that’ll turn quickly.

The pandemic has exacerbated these bottlenecks. More stuff coming in, fewer people to process donations and staff the shops, and limited hours, fewer opportunities to sell things. 

We’re all getting our grooves back. So some basics to remember, and Thrift Shop Updates 8.17.21 to get your donating and thrifting going. 

  • “Donating” isn’t how to clear out broken, stained, or mildly usable goods. These things don’t help anyone.  Things have life spans, and sometimes recycling or the curb is the way to go. There’s no shame in that, it’s why towns have bulk pickup days.
  • Charities have finite amounts of floor space and expenses like rent and utilities. They’ll choose things that will engage their typical buyer, and turn quickly.
  • Plan ahead. Call, find out what their core products are before you load up the car. Making one trip is easy for you, but doesn’t work for most places, you’ll only end up bringing things back they won’t take.
  • There are a lot of people in the same position, have patience. Most organizations are reopening gradually. Drop-off hours will be limited, and pickup schedules will fill quickly.
  • Also, there is a plethora of unwanted goods out there. Goodwill and Salvation Army might now be the place for higher-end items your local consignment shop welcomed a few years back. Don’t take it personally, the world is just a very different place now.
  • Consider the volunteers.  **If in doubt on anything, call ahead first.**  Especially if you’ve got big pieces, or many things to donate. Pre-sorting clothes by size, carefully wrapping anything breakable makes for an efficient and truly helpful donation.
  • Give some love to the workers. Getting your unwanteds into new hands while raising funds for a good cause is a beautiful thing, your THANK YOU will make someone’s day, guaranteed!