Second-hand clothing in demand in Hannibal.
Have a closet full of clothes you’ll either never fit into again, or wouldn’t be caught dead in? Want to get rid of those items, but don’t want to mess with a yard sale?
In Hannibal, there’s no shortage of non-profit entities that will be more than happy to take those garments off your hands.
Among those organizations are Goodwill Industries, Salvation Army (SA), Douglass Community Services (DCS) and the Northeast Missouri Sheltered Workshop (NMSW).
While the local Goodwill store referred all inquires regarding its sale of second-hand clothing to its corporate headquarters, local people affiliated with the Salvation Army, Douglass Community Services and the Northeast Missouri Sheltered Workshop were more than happy to discuss how they use donated clothes to assist people in need while also helping to generate revenue.
DCS Thift Shop
DCS’ thrift shop on Grand Avenue is no newcomer to the community, according to Peggy Walley, support services director at DCS.
“It’s been around since before I was here and I’ve been here 13 years,” she said.
Because of its longevity, DCS’ thrift shop is no secret in the community.
“We have hundreds of families in here each month,” said Walley.
The shop offers clothing and more.
“There’s a wide selection of clothing and household items,” said Walley. “It’s priced very, very low.”
Depending on the circumstance, some clothing items are given away.
“People who are referred and are in dire need are allowed to get a number of free items every quarter,” said Walley.
Walley believes that DCS’ willingness to help is known throughout the community. Consequently it never lacks for items, despite the fact there are other non-profit organizations with thrift shops.
“There are quite a few thrift stores in town, but I think because our mission here is to help, we’re always welcoming donations,” she said. “We try to keep prices very reasonable and we try to aid people who are in dire need and can’t afford things.”
While all clothing items are donated, not all donations are put out, at least initially.
“It needs to be something you’d be willing to wear,” said Walley. “We have one part-time thrift store manager and all the rest are volunteers, and they are wonderful women. They sometimes take something home to replace a zipper or something, if it is really nice. They’ll also take it home and wash it if it’s really nice.”
SA Thrift Store
The Salvation Army’s Thrift Store on Broadway will soon be marking its one-year, according to Jessica Lowe, assistant manager.
“We’re going to have a lot of exciting things in December with door prizes and nice specials,” she said.
During its brief time in business the store has developed a following.
“I do believe that word is still getting out. We do have quite a few regulars,” said Lowe. “We try once a month to have a bag day sale, and it’s all you can get to fit in a bag for $5. People tend to really love that day.”
While the store offers furniture, kitchen utensils and miscellaneous household items, its clothing offerings are popular.
“Clothing is a big seller for us,” said Lowe. “We have a wide variety of clothes, ranging from infant through the toddler-youth stage, up to juniors. We also have a wide selection of men’s and women’s clothing. We also have a designated section for plus sizes.”
According to Lowe, with Family Services occupying space in the same building, the Salvation Army can better help people without too much red tape.
“If an individual comes in that’s new to the area or is down on their luck and is in some way needing assistance, they (Family Services) can write them a voucher to get them some clothing or furniture at our store,” she said.
The store is dependent on donations.
“Everything we have here in the store has been donated from the public. People bring their clean items to us and we tag them and get them out on the floor as soon as possible,” said Lowe. “The profits that we make from the sale of clothing, furniture, etc., goes immediately back into the food pantry, to help with utility bills, to help with rent. I hope that people will continue to remember the Salvation Army for their donations.”
Unlike Goodwill, the Salvation Army and Douglass Community Services, the sheltered workshop does not sell the second-hand clothing it receives. Still, those clothing items fill an important need, according to Melonie McAfee, a sheltered workshop board member.
“Once we have recycled clothing turned in through one of the drop locations, we allow the staff at the workshop to go through it. We provide them with any clothing they need before we package it and send it to St. Louis for them to do the same thing. Last year that’s how a lot of them got their winter coats,” she said.
Leftover clothing is sold as a commodity.
“Actually clothing, shoes and plastics are the highest revenue generating items we have,” said McAfee.
Materials can still be extracted from even non-wearable items, which helps generate revenue, according to McAfee.
The workshop’s board has discovered that its need for used clothing is not widely known.
“We have always accepted clothing and recycled clothing. However, we’ve realized lately that the community is not aware of it,” said McAfee. “Commodity prices for resale clothing have increased dramatically. We’d like to pick that (donations of clothing) up so that our revenues will benefit.”
McAfee doesn’t see the workshop as being in competition for second-hand clothing with other local non-profits.
“I don’t know that it’s an apples to apples comparison,” she said. “Whereas they re-sell for use of that particular item, we offer it (recycled clothing) at no charge to sheltered workshop employees.”
If there’s a message that McAfee wants to get out, it’s that the workshop is all about recycling.
“We recycle aluminum cans, tin cans, plastics, as well as cardboard. We don’t want those donations to stop. But we also do clothing and shoes,” she said.