Donate like a pro

Oct 20, 2020 - 2:58 pm

"Items stacked up for donation"

By: Max McCready

National Reuse Day is on October 20, and we’re excited to celebrate the benefits of extending the life of  items in our homes and closets. There are many ways to participate, like donating gently-used items or supporting your local thrift store. We were curious how to make it easier for stores and employees to process donations. 

We asked thrift stores to give us their best tips on how to donate ‘like a pro.’  Here’s what they said: 

1. Organize your donations by category.  

Take a few moments before leaving your house to group your donations into categories. This helps staff and volunteers quickly sort through your donation. 

2. Package and secure loose items.  

When donating loose odds and ends, it's helpful if items are contained in something they won't spill out of. For example, if you have small items that are part of a set, like silverware, consider placing them in a container or tying them together with a string. 

3. When in doubt, ask. 

Donating something that’s out of the ordinary? If you’re unsure whether your item is accepted, call to the store to confirm they can process your item 

4. Drop off your items when the store is open.   

When donations are left overnight, they often get rummaged through, leaving a mess that employees have to clean up the next morning. Ensure the thrift store benefits fully from your donation by dropping it off during the store’s regular hours. 

5) Donate seasonal items.   

Ski jackets aren’t anyone’s go-to during an Austin summer. Reduce thrift stores’ need to hold onto items for months by donating items appropriate for that time of year. 

The tips require minimal additional effort, but can save thrift stores and their employees a lot of time and energy. So the next time you donate items to your favorite store, donate like a pro! 

Find your local thrift store and check their safety protocols and store hours before stopping to donate gently-used items! To learn even more about the behind-the-scenes world of the thrift industry, check out Thrift Store Planet with journalist Adam Minter, hosted by the City of Austin and Imagine Austin Speaker Series.