Bin-divers 'hazard of job'

By Brendan Manning


Midnight marauders diving into clothing bins in search of new threads is one of the hazards of operating an opportunity store, a local manager says.

Nationally, Salvation Army stores have received mouldy clothes, broken electrical equipment and even full bags of household rubbish.

Margaret Healey from St Vincent de Paul on Victoria Ave in Wanganui said the store didn't have the same problem as the Salvation Army with unwanted donated goods, as it did not accept donated furniture.

However the store's clothing bin went missing temporarily and people would even climb into the bin to steal clothes, she said.

"We've got a new bin now.

"The one we used to have, you were able to push it open and look inside, but not now."

Bags of clothes and boxes of miscellaneous items would occasionally be left outside the store, but due to its location, that was the extent of dumped items.

Salvation Army spokeswoman Major Christina Tyson said junk left outside Salvation Army stores was a seasonal problem which peaked around Christmas and died back as people went back to work.

Although $600,000 was spent last year disposing of rubbish, the cost was spread over 125 stores, meaning an average disposal cost of $4800, she said.

"It is the nature of what we've always had to do.

"We're not wanting to sound mean spirited about it, we accept that it is a cost of doing business."

It was just "part and parcel" of operating a second-hand goods business.

Ms Tyson said the stores had worked on their signage to ensure would-be donors knew it was better to drop off goods when the stores were open.

"Then there's the security of knowing things will make it inside the store and they're not exposed to the elements."

Salvation Army family store consultant Fraser Kearse said while there were varying levels of quality in the goods donated, the vast majority were usable.

Goods that were not sellable in the family stores could be used for other means, he said.

"We go through a recycling process and in terms of clothing that includes things like ragging, where that material is turned into rags that we can then sell."

Other clothes that weren't suitable for the family stores were packed into bales and sent to poorer countries, he said.

"Occasionally you might get an actual rubbish bag [filled with] someone's household refuse, but that's so few and far between that if that happens it just gets popped into the skip bin."

Mr Kearse said the amount of donations varied widely store-to-store. While some donors knew what they were dropping off was of a very low quality, they were a minority, he said.

No one should be discouraged from donating goods, Mr Kearse said.

"At the end of the day, without our donors, our Salvation Army stores wouldn't exist." - APNZ

- WANGANUI CHRONICLE

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