US thrift shops overwhelmed amid Covid-19 decluttering
The second-hand sector, usually worth at least $18bn a year, is losing jobs and drowning under a sea of unusable ‘donations’
If one thing has seemed to unite Americans during the coronavirus pandemic, it’s spring cleaning. With stay-at-home orders in effect, a long-delayed clearing-out of basements, closets, back bedrooms and desk drawers has become a popular way to pass the time. One result is that America’s thrift stores are informally reporting unprecedented volumes of donations. And that’s creating a problem that goes far beyond finding a loving home for your old sweaters.
The thrift industry is more important than most Americans realise. Largely out of sight, it employs tens of thousands of people and generates at least $18bn in annual revenue. It keeps an enormous amount of used stuff out of landfills, and contributes billions each year to social-service and job-training programmes that are crucial to communities nationwide...