A letter I recently submitted to my local store…
Dear Dekalb Salvation Army Thrift Store Staff,
I LOVE thrift stores and shop almost exclusively at them. I especially love Salvation Army Thrift stores because I love where my money is going, as a fellow Christ follower. Knowing that, I hope you will take these comments and suggestions in stride, knowing they are offered with the intention and hope that your business with increase, providing more money for your excellent cause.
- The prices in your store are approx. 40% too high. I know it seems counter-intuitive to lower prices, but I suggest you will sell a lot more volume by lowering them. No sweater should be over $4, no coat over $7 and no piece of furniture over $25. Your goal being two-fold, to offer goods at reasonable prices to people who can not afford regular retail, AND make money from the donations given is hard to balance. However, I have given up trying to find anything worth the prices you are charging.
- The furniture is overpriced, again, and very poorly displayed. I suggest you use the pieces to display items as you are attempting to sell them. Two especially congested areas of the store would greatly benefit from this idea. I would move the book, movie and linen areas off those walls, and line them with pieces of furniture you are trying to sell. By all means, use the pieces for storage. A bookcase for books, a dresser for nicer linens, chairs for especially nice stacks of books or pillows, etc. I suggest this will move the pieces faster, as people see what they look like set up, and help the flow of that back area of the store.
- You need to sort everything by size. The color thing does not work. People do not shop by color anywhere else. It would mean a lot of work initially, but again, I think your items would move a lot faster. The pants and shoes in your store are especially maddening to try and get through.
- Clutter. Obviously, clutter comes with a thrift store. But it is way too much at your store. I suggest using tubs people donate things in to relieve this problem. Example- display 50% of your best shoes and place the rest in tubs labeled by size. Display 50% of your nicer linens and put the rest in tubs labeled curtains, sheets, blankets, etc. People do not mind going through tubs and it will keep the store easier to keep clean and orderly.
- Create a “By the pound” area. Things not worth pricing, or close to being unsellable will sell if they are especially cheap. I would suggest carving out an area by the men’s department upfront where you can place very large wooden crates people can go through. A simple scale can be used to weigh the items. I have seen this used at a store in Madison, WI and it is both a blessing to folks who need clothing very cheap and a way to get rid of a lot of volume quickly.
- The addition of the fitting room in wonderful, but very hard to use as there is usually furniture stacked right in front of it.
I know this is a letter from someone on the outside and I’m certain I don’t know all the challenges you face in running your store, however as an experienced thrift store shopper, I have stopped shopping at yours and I’m certain I represent a lot of people in our community. Lower prices and better organized merchandise will, I’m certain, increase your revenue and patronage.
A friend in the community