Shopping at used furniture stores can be an impactful way to make a difference in your community. Not only are you helping the environment by diverting waste from landfills, but many second-hand shops also give back to their local community. This makes shopping in their stores one of the easiest ways to support not-for-profit organizations.
However, we’re seeing many thrift stores pass off their for-profit pursuit of sales as benefitting charities within our community, when this is simply not true. We know that many individuals buy second-hand items as a way to make a difference, so we wanted to clear the air, once and for all, on which used furniture stores actually make a difference.
Habitat HM’s ReStores
Types of furniture they sell: The better question to ask is what don’t our ReStores sell? For a comprehensive list of the furniture we have in-store, click here.
How they support not-for-profits: The ReStores are Habitat HM’s way of keeping our organization sustainable and ensuring that 100 per cent of every dollar donated to us goes directly into our fund to build affordable housing within our community. Revenue from the sale of every item sold in our ReStores helps to support our mission. Twenty per cent of this revenue is used to cover our costs of office administration and 80 per cent funds our build projects.
What they do with unsold items: We accept items that are in good condition to ensure they have a high chance of selling. For items that aren’t in the best shape, we have our ReVive Centre. ReVive is our exclusive upcycling centre where we reupholster, refinish and repair items to improve their resale potential.
Store location: We currently have two ReStore locations, one in Burlington at 1800 Appleby Line and one in Mississauga at 4500 Dixie Road. Soon we will be re-opening our Milton ReStore at a new location.
To learn more about Habitat HM, check out our website.
The Salvation Army
Types of furniture they sell: Kitchen items including appliances, cabinetry and sinks, office supplies and furniture, tables, couches, chairs, bed frames and mattresses, shelving and storage units, lighting fixtures and home décor.
How they support not-for-profits: The Salvation Army is itself a not-for-profit Christian organization that exists to support vulnerable people around the world by offering various services, including disaster relief, housing and social services. The Salvation Army’s thrift store is a way for the organization to generate funds to further its mission. The store prides itself on making every donation count.
What they do with unsold items: Of the items donated to their thrift stores, the organization estimates that less than five per cent of donations end up in the landfill. The remaining 95 per cent are sold through their stores or are recycled using “ethical recycling suppliers with proceeds supporting those in need.”
Store location: The Salvation Army Thrift Store has locations across the country, with a store locator available so you can find the store nearest you.
For more information, visit their website.
Types of furniture they sell: Small furniture including chairs, tables (dining, kitchen, coffee, end, computer, nightstand, patio), dressers, bookcases and cabinets. They also sell small appliances and exercise equipment.
How they support not-for-profits: Value Village brands itself as an organization devoted to giving back to their community, with slogans like “Every item you donate, big or small, supports a non-profit in your neighbourhood,” enticing individuals to donate and statements boasting that they “Help more than 100 non-profit organizations.”
In reality, the local charities they’re “benefitting” see merely eight to 17 per cent of the revenue from the resale of items donated on their behalf and 75 per cent of donations are shipped overseas.
What they do with unsold items: Of all items donated to Value Village, only 25 per cent sells. According to CBC News, the bulk of the remaining 75 per cent of donations are sold second-hand abroad, where their life eventually ends in landfills there.
On their website, Value Village states “In the case when we aren’t able to find a new purpose for any given donation, we compact the materials and work with waste management companies to responsibly dispose of them.”
Store location: You can use their store locator to find a location close to you.
To learn more, click here.
Bank & Vogue
Types of furniture they sell: Bank & Vogue sells a wide selection of furniture from store returns, overstock and discontinued pieces. This allows them to guarantee high-quality items for sale. Their store features all types of indoor and outdoor furniture.
How they support not-for-profits: This organization was created to develop “innovative and relevant solutions for the crisis of stuff,” which describes the issue created by the overwhelming amount of “stuff” our society consumes.
Their website states that they “look for new and innovative ways for charities to raise revenue so they can fund important community programs,” but it’s not specified how they specifically support these not-for-profits.
Bank & Vogue has worked with the Karuna Girls Orphanage for many years and they use their fundraising efforts to offset costs of housing and education for 50 young girls living there. Recently, the organization raised funds to build a new study hall in the orphanage.
What they do with unsold items: Items that are unsold are ground down and reprocessed for alternate use and some is sold overseas to second-hand retailers. They also have boutique thrift shops called Beyond Retro in Europe and online, as well as an upcycling plant in India that transforms old materials into new items to be resold, so they can maximize the lifecycle of their items.
Store location: Bank & Vogue’s headquarters is located in Ottawa, at 1195 Michael Street North.
For a more in-depth look at this innovative company, click here.
Habitat for Humanity Halton-Mississauga is a proud member of our national organization Habitat Canada and is one of 54 local Habitat affiliates across our country. Habitat for Humanity brings communities together to help families build strength, stability, and independence through affordable homeownership. We provide a solid foundation for better, healthier lives in Canada and around the world. You can find out more about Habitat Canada at habitat.ca.
With files from CBC News.