Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Is It Wrong to Shop at a Thrift Store?

I have lots of friends who shop at thrift stores, including the Salvation Army. I've never thought too much about it before, but a recent post at Give Me Back My Five Bucks has me thinking.

GMBMFB asks: Are thrift stores just for poor people? Most of her commenters agree that it's totally OK for anyone and everyone to shop at thrift stores. No one should feel guilty for getting a good deal. Those organizations have plenty of stuff anyway.

I disagree. I've never shopped at a thrift store, but for years I've donated gently used clothing, cookware and other household items to Salvation Army. I don't do it so that privileged college students and frugal blog readers can get a great discount on some cool finds. I do it because I assume I'm helping the needy. Now I'm not so sure my donations are benefiting anyone who truly needs assistance. Maybe I should sell my stuff and donate the money to a worthy cause instead.

What do you think? Is shopping at a thrift store akin to hitting up a food bank, or is it expected and welcomed that the general public will frequent those establishments? I'd love to hear from someone in an executive position at a non-profit that runs a thrift store.

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