Fact Finder: Thrift Store Throwaways

Monday, a viewer wrote 7&4 News asking us to look into our local thrift stores. He did not want us to investigate what they sell. He wanted us to look into what they throw away.

The viewer, a self-proclaimed "dumpster diver, said he has discovered dumpsters full of clothes and toys at two different northern Michigan Goodwill stores. He wanted to know why.

Gregory Leach and his wife own Secret Stash Thrift Store in Mesick, Wexford County. Everything in their store sells for a dollar or less. Some of the items in their store, like Greg TMs shoes, were pulled from a Goodwill dumpster.

The Goodwill store in Cadillac|they dispose of a lot of good things that people can use in today's society and with how bad the economy is and the lack of jobs|there are people who can use that, said Leach.

7&4 News took his concern to Goodwill. Director Ruth Blick said that Goodwill does all it can to get good use out of donated items. Anybody who might go into a dump to take something's not a safe place to be and the items there are there for a reason.

That is why Blick said she doesn't want people taking items out of their dumpsters. Blick said most of the toys and equipment that gets thrown away has been recalled and poses a safety risk.

As for donated clothes, those items stay out on the store floor for four weeks. They are then put on discount. If they still don't sell, Blick said they are pulled from the store. We participate in a salvage program... we sell (clothes) to salvage dealers who will break that down into 150 different categories|some of it ends up in third world countries. Some of it may end up in the dashboard of your car which is now made up of foam and ground down fiber.

Goodwill stands behind their operation and denies throwing away items that can be put to good use.

For Leach, that is hard to believe.

Goodwill said they are taking measures to make sure people can TMt dumpster dive on their property.