When you think about “giving back” to your community, donating through a not-for-profit(NFP) or charitable organization is a great way to redistribute your resources - and recycle! However, the travels of your clothing may surprise you!
80% of “American Used Clothing” donated to traditional NFPs will be sold out of the United States to countries in Africa and/or Asia. Of that remaining 20%, only about half is sold as used clothing in the United States. That’s right – only about 1 out of 10 (10%) clothing items you donate will be resold as clothing in the US. Due to the combination of mass consumerism and the ethics of fast fashion “wear it once, throw it away” being on trend for the last few decades, overproduction has become a massive problem! Thrift stores have so much inventory coming in with not enough time to sell it all. Contrary to consumer level belief, NFPs don’t need more of your donations, they need the money from the sales of your donations to fund the programs they support.
International clothing/textile traders all over the United States step in to solve this problem, purchasing what thrift stores can’t sell.
"Credential' is what we in the industry call your donated clothing prior to hitting the floor. Buying credential is always a gamble: while you might score that classic 80’s band tee, you’ll also acquire cat hair covered blankets. These items are sent to donation centers for processing/reselling. Because of the continuous inbound of inventory, most traditional NFP thrift shops have a 4-week cycle on each garment. After its "lifespan" is complete, the clothing becomes known as "institutionalized" - in other words: what didn't sell at the donation center.
Both institutionalized and credential clothing is sold to clothing/textile trading companies across the world who sort according to material and worth, creating hundreds of themed “categories” based on their clients’ requests and needs.
That’s where we come in – YEP! We are those clients!. We don’t purchase “credential” or raw donations but instead purchase those pre-sorted themed packs, 100-1000+ pounds of specific grades of clothing: could be “summer mix” or specialty items like Carharrt workwear, Stadium Jackets, Fur Coats, Levi jeans, Military, Hawaiian Shirts, Sweatshirts, etc… If you’ve visited our North County location, you’ve probably viewed the “behind the scenes” of how our 100lb – 1000lb bales of clothing are sorted for each store!
Due to the individual, limitless pricing at our boutiques, we’re able to purchase high quality, premium graded bales. However, not every item in the bale is exactly what we’re looking for. When you’re buying “sight unseen” wholesale, it’s always a blind purchase. Unlike “buy-sell-trade” shops who can approve or deny clothing coming into the shop before buying it, we’ve already made the purchase! In order to make the most of our costs, we use our boutique stores to highlight the best of the best that comes from each bale. “Everything else” stays at our warehouse to be sold at $3 per LB. We donate a portion of each bale to a local charitable organization. Anything that is deemed “unsellable” as clothing will be recycled as “rags”/textiles by our sister company Mednik Riverbend. (That’s the remaining 10% of donated clothing we mentioned earlier!)
Having three unique stores helps us maximize the potential of each individual piece while supporting our mission in sustainability thru the recycling of discarded textiles as fashion, without the need for donations, trade/sell, or consignment.