Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thrift Store Pricing - A Bitch Fest

I have something to say. I'm noticing that independent thrift shops have started using Ebay and/or Amazon as a "guide" for pricing. For pricing stuff that has been donated.
You know, as in free.

Let's take a recent example, shall we? Record Albums for sale at a thrift in Tillamook, Oregon.

Strauss Waltzes and Andre Kostelanetz records.

The tags compare the Amazon or Ebay price compared to the store price, as if this means something.

O.K.

1)You're not selling on Ebay. You are selling out of cold, dingy converted quonset hut in the middle of nowhere. And playing awful religious music. Loudly.

2) People who are looking for waltzing records go to Ebay in order to find said waltzing records. That's the whole point of Ebay. How likely is it that a dairy farmer from Tillamook, Oregon is going to wander in, looking for Strauss and Kostelanetz records?

3) Did I mention the stuff you are trying to sell has been donated?

Girls, don't make me go through this alone. Chime in here.

32 comments:

Barbara said...

Oh, it pisses me off too. You all got this free and are trying to make Goodwill into a consignment shop. It infuriates me.

Van said...

Hell yes, this is an important topic. This is killing me at thrift stores lately. I love this conversation I had with a thrift store owner trying to price a 70s mushroom cross stich I wanted:

Him: Yeah, Toadstools... these could sell on Ebay for $20 each easy.

He still gave me a good deal but tried to make me feel guilty about it. Grrr...damn the rising price on used goods!

Barbara at Oodles and Oodles said...

Completely agree. I take perverse satisfaction when I see overpriced stuff sitting on the shelf week after week after week. Also, I don't think most thrift store employees are able to assess condition, so the album, for example, that sold for $18 might be worth maybe a dollar if it's scratched, the cover is worn, etc. I think they ought to be in the business of moving stuff out quickly for a reasonable price - and if they want more, let them go to all the work of listing it.

Pixie said...

Thrift storeas and charity shops walk a very fine line when it comes to pricing. I volunteer for one here in my town in the UK and while we try to fairly price our items (and by fair, I mean fair to the customer AND fair to the charity), people still complain. We are cheaper on our clothing and books than anyone else in town and still folks whinge. We have a set rule- paperback books are 50p and hardbacks are £1 while other places are charging up to £5 for a paperback. Ridiculous. We sell designer jeans for £3.50. Yes, things are given to us, but are given in order that monmey collected from the sales of such items goes to build our local hospice and also to pay the meager wages of the manager and assistant manager of the shop as well as pay overhead like rent and utility rates AND to pay for fixtures, bubble wrap and all the other necessitites it takes to keep a shop open.

We DO use Ebay to compare our prices...just because we are not experts on such things. But, we try and keep it real. Our sleepy little town is in no way ready for £18 opera albums! lol

Perhaps the folks that are charging so much are trying to compensate for lower overall sales, but what they do not realize is that they are only making it worse by running off folks with their intimidating pricing system and high rpices.

flappergirlcreations said...

Yes! I totally agree with you on this, and it drives me bananas too.

And here's another thing that doesn't make sense with the Amazon/Ebay price comparison—sure, someone may have listed those records on Amazon or Ebay at that price, but that doesn't mean that they SOLD for that price, you know? I see things on Ebay and Amazon that are overpriced all the time, and those things NEVER sell.

Marilyn said...

Yes, I've noticed the prices going up at the Goodwill and Value Village. They would say "we are providing jobs etc. but they are in it to make a profit. It's getting so that I only buy 1/2 price stuff. That's silly to wait for a "sale" at the thrift shop!!!!
I agree with you....it was donated!

JunqueMagnet said...

I hear ya loud and clear.Even Goodwill and Salvation Army have jumped on that.Recent jaunts to both leave me thinking, "Who priced this and what narcotics were they on when they did so?"That said I know I tend to be cheaper because I'm looking to sell - I need to buy things at a minimum of 1/3 of what I expect to charge.This is getting harder and harder to do.My favorite pricing is when I look at junk furniture that is obviously from a chain store and the thrifted furniture is MORE expensive than if you bought it on sale and BRAND NEW from said chain.There seems to be a trend of sticking high price tags on things simply because they are "old".Ah well, I guess this makes the hunting harder but the scores that much sweeter.

Vintage Christine said...

Oh YES, this is a MAJOR peeve of mine and I've posted about it several times. I am sick and tired of seeing price comparisons to eBay and Amazon--do these thrift store people not understand that those prices are inflated and NO ONE is going to buy the stuff?! This has been going on for a few years now but it's steadily getting to the point where I don't shop at thrift stores (and ha ha ha about the name) any longer. I think since it's donated they could at least charge HALF of what they've found on eBay. You know where you get the best deals now? At the antique malls, because the vendors are forced to run sales constantly to move their stuff. The antique malls are oftentimes cheaper than the thrift stores!!!

Pixie said...

I don't condone overpricing anything, but making a profit keeps a shop open. It allows them to buy new fixtures, do repairs and buy crazy extravagances like toilet paper for their employees to use.

The stuff may be given to them, yes, but they need to make enough to cover operating expenses and salaries of paid employees. they need to do more than just break even to do that.

that being said, it HAS been a growing trend in the re-use, re-purpose market. Thrift stores are trendy now and are taking advantage of it. they are hoping that more folks with more money are going to be walking thru the doors and are more willing to open up their wallets. What it does is price folks like you and i out of the market. I know what I am willing to pay and what I am not willing to pay and I stick to it...evan at the shop where I work!

Sarah Ann said...

woah woah woah I haven't seen this before. If I saw someone do that @ a thrift store I wouldn't come back. That's so bizarre- if you know it's "expensive" on ebay then go sell it on ebay honey!
If I were you I wouldn't go back.
I am just annoyed at the new manager of my favorite Goodwill who thinks EVERYTHING is valuable and marks everything up.

Rose H (UK) said...

In the village where I live we have two (different) hospice charity shops, one sells ALL their goods very reasonably. They have an excellent turn round of stock and appreciate EVERY penny they get. The other one is ridiculous - many times anything slightly 'vintage' is priced higher than I see them at antique and collectors fairs, the stock sits on the shelves until it is moved on to another shop. They have started to 'specialise' in handbags, which are cheaper to buy new! Guess which one I shop at ;O)

Lisalulu said...

agreed, agreed and agreed with all that has been said, AND according to your picture they STUCK price tags on the albums so now they are worth even less!

Lou Cinda @ Tattered Hydrangeas said...

I hear ya'!!! Our Goodwill and Salvation Army prices have gone through the roof!! It is ridiculous! I have seen things that I could go to Target and buy NEW and get it cheaper than Goodwill has it priced!!

Bugs the crap outa me!

Lou Cinda

Zita - Mlle Magpie said...

I've always noticed erratic pricing on items at my Salvation Army store. The good news is that every few weeks or so they have a half-price sale, so when I know something is really over-priced, I wait till then and get it at half-price of the over-priced price, and then it's a deal.

linda said...

let's start a revolution. stay out of the offending thrift stores and let them know why....

Into Vintage said...

Wow - this post is getting me a little fired up!

Someone said something along these lines to me at a yard sale this summer: "On ebay, I could get twice what I'm asking for that."

So go sell it on ebay! Research it, clean it, photograph it, describe it, list it, store it, deal with bidders, collect payment on it, pack it, ship it and then fork over the ebay and paypal fees.

Or simply put a price on it and then own that decision, whatever it is. But don't assume your buyers aren't savvy enough to know what things are worth. :-b

Whew. I feel better now. Thanks.

Andy's Attic said...

Here, Here, a toast to all the answers. I am so sick of it I want to shout at the clerks (but I don't). My only salvation is finding the thing(s) that slipped through their greedy little price fest that is marked like a "real" thrift store.
Annette

Princess of Everything (and then some) said...

Our Goodwill is out of this world. PLUS they never do sales. EVER. I have even pointed out to them that they have Dollar Tree items there that were $1 and have $6 on them. I rarely go there anymore.

laurie -magpie ethel said...

Opened a bucket of worms on this one Dot...and everyone is chiming in. I also hate it when you go to an estate sale and they have priced everything according to their "ebay research"...and they wonder why people don't buy at that price! XO DEAR!

Anonymous said...

EXACTLY! It makes me crazy. I buy a lot at these stores, and I understand it's for charity, but it's not an ANTIQUE store, for pete's sake! It's a THRIFT store.

Peace said...

I pretty much only shop at my fave thrift store on Saturdays now, when everything is half off. I've noticed they're pricing stuff with the half-off price in their head. I've also noticed our local shops seem to think everything that looks remotely vintage should cost either $7 or $14. Even if it's broken. Even if it's been sitting there four months because we are too smart to pay above retail at the thrift store.
I love it when I find something they didn't realize was vintage for a reasonable price. :O)

I'm also pretty peeved that eBay prices on some vintage goodies - like greeting cards - have climbed into the ridiculous category. It irks me that folks like me who want to use these images in arting are constantly outbid by someone who wants only to resell for a MASSIVE profit. I saw someone pay $340 PLUS shipping for 250 vintage Christmas cards. You KNOW they're going to sell those puppies individually for about $3 or MORE and rape us to line their pockets. I'm not against the reselling, it's just why would I want to pay modern Hallmark prices? Ugh. End of rant.

Eclectic Thrifty Chic said...

This drives me insane! We went to Goodwill today and the prices there are CRAZY. I picked up a small platter thinking I could use it for an inexpensive gift (made into a chalkboard) and it was $18.91!!!!!!!!!! at Goodwill? Really? Is it lined in Gold? Did you have to go out and hammer the brass yourself?

I understand that the charity has to make money but given that its donated, how about you find a happy medium?

Because I was under the impression that thrift stores were for the needy also. Those of us not fortunate enough to be able to buy new..

Linda @ A La Carte said...

Oh that is ridiculous! I mean they are not Ebay or Etsy and they should sell at Thrift Store prices and be grateful they have business. I walk away when stuff is overpriced and it seems worse all the time.

Sue (Vintage Rescue) said...

I don't normally shop thrift stores (mainly because they don't have the junk I want), but the prices are actually OK here, IF you're a needy person. The clothes and furniture prices are fairly reasonable.

However, $25 for a waltz album is ridiculous even if it went for double on eBay.

onehappiecamper said...

while the goodwills in my town do this, the rescue mission runs 2 thrift stores that do NOT do this (maybe on an occasional item, once a month or so) and i often reinforce my gratitude to them for keeping their prices low. i just told the manager yesterday that when they keep ALL the prices down, then treasure hunters also shop their store for the common things such as irons and alarm clocks, because they may also find a vintage treasure at a good price. i just keep reinforcing to all in charge that they are doing a good job.... even posted it on my facebook page last week :)praise the one who is doing well and stop going to the ones that aren't.

Sandy aka Doris the Great said...

I totally agree with you that things should not be priced at Ebay prices; and the lady who mentioned the condition of said items had a wonderful point. I'm an avid thrift shopper (using the goods I buy for me and mine), and I shop there because I can't afford to go to Antique shops or Ebay.

HOWEVER, something else that really pees me off is hearing of people (and yes bloggers, you're included) who buy things for a steal at thrift shops and then sell it themselves for huge profits on Ebay. It's just like the Antique dealers who come to the summer yard sales at 7 am trying to scoop up the bargains before Mr and Mrs Average Person gets there. I feel like I and others like me have been ripped off when these things happen.

Anonymous said...

I hate when they put price stickers all over the merchandise. The "scar" left by sticker removal hurts the value.

Anonymous said...

I have personally observed the Salvation Army store I frequent actually RAISING the prices of items on the day of the "half off' sale.
One was a crappy old VCR that was $10 the day before the sale and $20 the weekend of the sale!Making it NOT on sale at all!I had told someone I knew who was looking for a vcr about it and went with them and there it was, same exact item.That's bad faith on the stores part, IMO. I frequent them less and less because of it.I also never shop at a certain store who's name famously promises something they do not treat their own employees with (hint hint)and is a huge rich corporation pretending to help ppl, when they don't. I know because my ex worked for them for many years and they treat their workers like dirt.They get all that stuff for free and throw lots of perfectly nice stuff away rather than let another competing organisation have it.

concretenprimroses said...

People who donate to thrift stores can get a tax deduction because the money from the sale of the donated items go to support programs which give the place non profit status. That is, the donation is not to the general public, it is to the non profit organization. The fact that they paid nothing doesn't matter anymore than if you pay only $5 for something that you turn around and sell for $15 on ebay. I think that the staff at the stores rightly feel that if something is worth a lot of money the store should get that money if they can. I do think its poor practice to quote ebay or amazon prices on their tags. But I suspect that prices have increased as staff at stores have realized that a lot of their stuff is being resold.
That said, I think many of them don't have the knowledge to know how to price, and therefore things really do need to go on sale so the items that they were wrong about, and there are many, move on out.
The SA in my town never has sales and some things sit on the shelf for a year. That is bad business practice. As are teapots that sit on the shelf for $10 until they break and then are marked down to $5.
I make garden objects out of junk and dishes, so it irritates me too, for example, that all dinner plates at this SA are $1, even if they have been there forever. they just don't have the concept of volume sales and turnover. On the other hand I can drive to and run through 4 thrift stores in an hour or so. If I want cheap, I can spend all Saturday driving miles going to yard sales and maybe not find much.
It is the staff's job to maximize the money made by the business. I agree that unfortunately business sense isn't always there.

Kathy

GARAGE SALE GAL said...

I KNOW...they get it FREE and are charging too much! Plus...there are SO MANY people now shopping at these places. That may also be causing the prices to go up! We can either continue to shop or not! and of course wait for garage sales..
Deb

monogirl said...

I agree, it's ridiculous! My biggest pet peeve is when a sweater from a high end clothing brand is at boutique pricing even though it has obviously shrunk two sizes. A shrunken sweater is worth a dollar at the most even if it's from the Gap.

Kelley said...

ITA! Then sell it on eBay! Deal with the fees, shipping hassels... and just because it's listed on eBay for that - doesn't mean it will SELL for that amount. Greedy bastards.