This has been burning my bottom for the past ten years. Now, I really feel I need to vent.
When I started shopping at Value Village back in 1988, you could get a T-shirt in great shape for $1.99, dress pants for $3.99, a leather jacket in like-new condition for $9.99, and some excellent pieces of home décor (clocks, vases, mirrors, candle-holders, picture frames) and housewares (dish sets, pots & pans, toaster, coffee-maker) at an unbeatable price.
Then, around 2005, I started to notice the prices starting to inch upwards. The afore-mentioned T-shirts went up to $3.99, dress pants were $6.99, a leather jacket that needed some work/cleaning was now $12.99, and a ten year-old coffee-maker cost $8.99. I also noticed that the stuff I donated wasn’t realistically priced for a thrift shop. Shirts that I originally purchased at Value Village a year earlier for $1.99 and decided to re-donate because it no longer fit were now priced at $4 to $6. Suede and leather skirts, pants and jackets that I originally bought there maybe two or three years earlier and gave up for the same reason were now being re-priced at $19.99 to $29.99. Empty frames, framed photographs and artwork in their décor department were selling just shy of what you could pay for brand new at Dollarama, Walmart or Target.
Since 2010, the price of things at Value Village has just gone absolutely bonkers. Last year, I donated a matching glass bead necklace/bracelet combo that I bought new for $8 five years earlier. A few days later, I found the set in their display case, broken up, and separately priced for $10 each! I also donated a cast iron tea pot that I bought at President’s Choice for $12.99 ten years ago but had rusted too much for my liking. Days later, I found it in their housewares department, priced at – you’re not going to believe this – $49.99. What the fuck?!
Leather jackets with torn pockets that reek of cigarette smoke now cost anywhere from $39 to $120. Cheap shoes from Walmart and Target, some of which are still selling at these major discount stores, can be found on the racks of Value Village at $3 to $10 more than their original retail price! Just today, I found a crappy little wall plaque with its original Liquidation World $1.99 price tag still on it, and Value Village has the unmitigated gall to slap their own $5.99 price tag right above it!
I did some Googling today and discovered that I'm not the only one outraged by these ridiculous prices. Folks who’ve written to the Canadian and U.S. head offices to complain are just getting the brush-off. And the working situation at stores all across North America has been compared to sweat shops, where staff members are demeaned, humiliated and intimidated at every turn.
I think it’s time for me to seriously rethink my thrift-shopping habits and devote more of my time and money to places like the Salvation Army.