Thrift Theft

Theft, not a hot topic on a Monday morning (let alone having to deal with it day after day) but when you work in retail, and the public, sometimes theft is a part of that equation.

I have been working in retail for most of my life.  When I was a struggling student in my early 20’s, the only way I had money for all those new fashions was to work at my most desirable boutiques for the discount.  When I started my first business in my mid-20’s I took management jobs at those same boutiques to pay the bills while my business got up and running.  When I became a mother who was sick of not having any cute, Eco-inspired fashions for my son, I created a line and sold it to boutique owners.  Retail has been in my life at almost every stage.

With all these years of retail, I’ve seen my share of theft and thrift stores are NOT immune to the problem.

I bring up this subject today because there are many signs of theft that I see all the time at my favorite thrift stores.  One place in Boulder, CO that I used to frequent had so many tags “shoved” into the corners of the dressing rooms it was pathetic!  I knew that the staff did not care about their store with all those tags there, which left a bad impression on my customer mind, and I eventually stopped shopping there.  I’ve seen women with baby strollers and carriers actually stuffing things in the little pockets to conceal them.  And of lately, at the local Goodwill, I noticed a couple of price tags in the pockets of a coat I went to try on.

There are “obvious” ways thieves conceal or steal items, then there are the not-so-obvious ways…

1.  People switch out the tags for the desired color tag (50% off of $10.99 is ALWAYS better than $10.99!).  Seattle Goodwill stores all have clear, plastic tag hangers attached to the items, a bit easier to change out the colored tags.  A remedy could be to attach tags on rounded, plastic tags (like this one that was on my DVF luggage piece) that are much harder to rip out of clothing.

Another method is one taken by the Tacoma Goodwill stores with a colored, plastic marker.  This is not only a smart way to color-code the items for deals but for anti-theft management because you can’t just change out the tags you would have to change the whole attachment. Quite a determent in my eyes!

2.  Another sign of thrift theft are those missing/extra price tags you can find in pockets, the holes of dressing room walls and sometimes stuffed behind/underneath anything.

No matter how the thieves reduce or steal their wares, it all is a reduction to the benefactors of the organizations, and ultimately a reduction to our society!

Let’s encourage a prosperous thrift-shopping system for many years and do our part by deterring thrift theft!


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