The NY Times addresses an age-old question: Does My Bargain-Hunting Hurt Those in Need?

I'd rather be thrifting, said the HowToConsign.org followerHere’s a Q&A  from the New York Times which addresses a question I often get:

 I make a good salary and can afford to shop and buy new clothes at a regular retail store, but I enjoy shopping at a particular thrift store where I find great bargains. I sometimes buy items that I don’t need. My question concerns my enjoyment versus the needs of others who are less fortunate (and are now deprived of the opportunity to buy items that they probably need more than I do). Am I guilty of fulfilling a shadow pleasure at the expense of those in need? JAY THOMPSON, TOMS RIVER, N.J.

And the answer:

If a store positions itself as an aid organization for the underprivileged, you should not be shopping there for pleasure. It’s a little like showing up at a soup kitchen because you think the soup is delicious. Most thrift stores don’t operate solely in this capacity, however. They may even want your money to finance other good works. You enjoy the experience of bargain hunting, which is not unethical. There’s a simple way to compensate for any discomfort you may feel: When you find yourself buying something you don’t need, give something of greater value to charity. If done honestly, it would turn your bargain-hunting obsession into a civic-minded hobby.

I’d like to personally add: When you buy something in a not-for-profit thrift shop (as opposed to a for-profit business which calls itself a thrift but does not use the income from the retail outlet to fund a charitable group’s activities) which is vastly under-priced,

give the cashier more

than the price tag says. Consider the extra cash a pure donation to the shop for their cause.

Or, if you prefer to be proactive, speak to the manager: I managed to help Habitat for Humanity by quietly suggesting to the manager that the in-good-shape 7-piece Brown Jordan patio set she’d priced at $149 was capable of making the charity a LOT more money. Next week, the set was gone… and about $550 more than planned was in their coffers.

Oh, and the bargains you love at your local not-for-profit? You can “repay” the deals you get by donating saleable goods to them when you’re clearing out.

The graphic’s from Pinterest; can’t find the original creator.

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