Why are non-sellable items not identified and disposed of rapidly? These answers are many and varied. I’ve included three. (Feel free to include other roadblocks in the comments.)
A quick answer is insufficient staffing to keep up with donation flows. While this answer may be correct, at least in part, it does not have to be the reality for most stores. The allocation of staffing (man hours) is a decision that all thrift store managers make. When these assets are not allocated to quickly eliminate trash, it is because the cost of this decision is not fully understood. If the true cost of holding trash was understood, then allowing this practice to continue would not be acceptable.
One of the less admitted reasons for failing to dispose of trash is the disposal cost. The cost of trash disposal varies from market to market but it typically represents an expense line item that surprises most accounting experts not familiar with thrift. While the tendency is to minimize expenses, this expense, if it is too low as a percentage of sales, can suggest a problem. Again, counter intuitively, hanging on to donated goods that need to be disposed of is costly decision.
Another reason for not disposing of goods with no or low value is in the faulty thinking of assigning value where none exists. This practice is associated with hoarders. Unfortunately, it can make its way into a thrift operation if the wrong people are making decisions on what has value and what does not. These decisions can be spiritualized under the label of “good stewardship” but the decision to rid the pipeline of no or low value goods quickly will always produce maximum value for the organization.
In the last post of this series, we’ll begin quantifying the cost when we allow these roadblocks to remain in our thrift operations. And, it’s more than you think it is.