Thrift store weirdness

Yesterday I went to one of my favorite thrift stores (this is a for profit one that contracts with charities to raise money for them), Savers. I was all masked up, used the sanitizer at the door and then was immediately met with an employee who told me they had a new policy of not allowing large shopping bags in the store. I could check them in a locker by the checkout stands.

To say the least I was startled. Surrender my shopping bags? Why this is the very store that requires you to bring your own bags or pay for paper bags or to buy one of their own reusable bags at the checkout stand. After a rather fierce interior struggle to come to terms with this request and some vocal objections, I complied. I was very annoyed because I was only there to look for one specific item that I was pretty sure wouldn't be there (it wasn't) and I would have been in an out of the store in under 5 minutes. It took me longer to argue with the staff when I deposited my bags and picked them up again. I felt like the management must believe I came there to steal since I came with bags. It was a real no win situation.

Naturally, this new policy came from upper management, the same management who also came up with the bring your own bags policy. I don't have any problem with bringing my own bags and I suppose this new policy was designed (if I am charitable) to prevent shrinkage (theft) if it has been discovered that was what people were doing. My question for everyone is do you suppose this move is some kind of additional hysterical anti-COVID measure or are they really that hard up for profit and that people aren't even spending money in thrift stores but stealing stuff? Seems it could be just another sign of the decline.

I think it's all of the above. There's never a single thread that unravels the entire weaving, just like a single thread doesn't make up the entire piece of cloth.

So, upper management is trying to avoid being sued over Covid-19 cooties.
Upper management has bought into the idea that the bodies are stacked up like cordwood.
Upper management has noticed shrinkage and shoplifting have increased and the bag policy gives them the illusion of control over the customers despite the fact that the new bag policy is in direct opposition to stated company policy.
Lord only knows what upper management is doing to the staff.
And last, but perhaps most important: upper management doesn't know it's head from a hole in the ground.

Never ascribe to conspiracy what you can ascribe to incompetence.

I confess, that someone suing upper management over COVID bugs didn't cross my mind at the time, but it certainly makes sense. It is the great unwashed masses that shop in their stores and Deities know where the stuff came from in the first place. Illusion of control over customers is also a fine explanation. In my more angry moments, I was thinking this was some kind of customer intimidation technique, but incompetence works too.

ClareBroommaker's picture

From their Covid-19 policy statement:

"Our reusable bag policy
As a temporary and precautionary measure, our team members will stop handling shopper-supplied bags, though you can choose to pack up your purchases yourself at check-out where permitted."

I keep a stack of about five plastic carrier bags folded very flat and neatly in my back pocket. Used to be when I had extra, I would walk around Savers noticing who seemed to have large purchases to make and I'd offer them my extra bags to spare them the dime or whatever Savers bags cost.

But if I had cloth bags or string bags, of course, I could not stuff them in my pocket.

I can imagine it possible that cashiers are asking not to have to handle bags brought in by customers, but to try to separate you from your bags while in-store does sound like theft control. Ugh, I'd hate to be the employee who is supposed to do that. "Hello, m'am. I see that you are a potential thief. Please set your thievery supplies over there at the front of the store. You may have them back when you leave."

Another of my favorite stores will not allow their employees to handle a customers bags, but I managed that by telling them I was perfectly happy bagging my own purchases. They are fine with that. In the past at Savers, I have also handled bagging my own purchases, no problem.

However, part of my argument with the staff was about the message that this policy sends to the customers. We are all potential thieves because we bring bags. Of course all the staff pointed out that this policy came from on high and they had no control. I don't suppose the staff members I argued with were any more pleased with our discussion then I was and their jobs are dependent on enforcing this policy.

David Trammel's picture

I've been using my reusable bags to hold various subgroups of food and supplies in my pantry. They make more sense than going out an buying a bunch of plastic totes.