Members of the Sicamous United Church community are frustrated with the way their thrift shop’s drop-off area is being used.
According to Kris Nickerson, chair of the United Church’s board, for over 10 years the drop-off area has been used as a dump, stolen from or left in disarray.
Nickerson said the shop’s dump bills are at least $1,000 a month and can be even more during the busy seasons of spring and fall.
This cuts into the amount of money that can be used to give back to the community and keep the church running, said Nickerson.
According to Brenda Honkanen, the thrift shop’s manager, on June 7 volunteers had to spend three hours cleaning up garbage and rummaged-through items before they could even get to work in the shop.
“We have volunteers who are in their 80’s,” said Honkanen. “It’s very disheartening for them.”
Nickerson said the shop has installed security cameras on multiple occasions, but they’ve been destroyed every time.
Sometimes people drop off garbage bags full of clothes at the shop, said Nickerson. However, she said people will rip open the bags and go through them to find the clothes they want, leaving the rest strewn about the property. In the winter or during rainy weather, Nickerson said this renders many clothes unusable.
Other times, people will leave actual bags of garbage at the thrift shop.
Honkanen said she thinks people who leave garbage at or steal from the drop-off area just don’t know what the thrift shop is meant to do.
“It’s meant to help people who might not otherwise be able to afford what we offer,” said Honkanen. “It cuts into the donations that we’re able to make.”
Similar problems have been occurring at Enderby’s Twice but Nice thrift store, where staff have had to discard bags of items left along Cliff Avenue in front of the store in recent weeks.
“It’s a mess,” volunteer Patsy Abbott told Black Press Media. “And the amount of money that we’re spending on garbage is just phenomenal.”
Abbott said the thrift store doesn’t have a washing machine, and volunteers often take clothing home for mending and washing. But frequently, items are dropped off on Fridays after closing and aren’t handled until the following Wednesday. By that time, the bags have usually been riffled through, urinated on or otherwise made unsellable.
Twice in the last week of May the thrift store posted images to Facebook of items donated outside of operating hours which are now destined for the landfill.
“This was not a nice mess to clean up and may I add a big part is straight to the dumpster,” reads a post from May 30.
Abbott said the volunteers at Twice but Nice aren’t concerned about items being stolen, as their purpose is to help people in need of a $1.50 T-shirt or pair of jeans; it’s a matter of donating items properly to avoid unnecessary waste.
“Nine times out of 10 it’s really good,” she said. “We have beautiful donations and tonnes of gorgeous stuff that really helps us out and helps our neighbourhood out, because then we can donate a lot.”
If people want to donate to the Sicamous United Church Thrift Shop, they’re encouraged to come by during the shop’s open hours of Thursday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
If they can’t make it then, they’re asked to call ahead and plan a time when they can meet up with a volunteer to drop off their donations.
At the Enderby Twice but Nice, donations can be dropped into the container at the rear of the store Wednesay to Friday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.