Thrift store price increases draw criticism

The Salvation Army has been forced to raise prices at its Houston thrift store to bring in the money needed to support its food banks in Houston and elsewhere in the Bulkley Valley.

Food prices have risen rapidly as part of inflationary pressures across the country to the point it now takes on average $21,000 to supply its food banks for six weeks, says Army Lieutenant Rick Apperson.

“In reality, all [charitable] stores have had to raise their prices,” he said. “Our costs have to come from somewhere and thrift stores are how we pay for the food banks.”

Apperson, one of the Army’s key personnel in the Hazeltons/Smithers/Houston area, said it it will, however, review its pricing to ensure prices are comparable with charitable retail outlets across the country.

“Most of our items are $5, $6, $7,” he said adding that items that come in brand new with original price tags might be priced higher.

“There was a dress that came in new with an original price tag of $100. That was marked at $25,” Apperson said providing one example of a higher-priced piece of clothing.

The Salvation Army also prices its items in line with data that comes from a national company that consults for charitable stores and, Apperson continued, holds weekly sales.

Inflation is one reason for having to raise prices but a general increase in demand for food items has also put pressure on the Salvation Army’s food provision programs.

“Five years ago when I was last here, there was a need for 100 Christmas hampers [just for Houston]. It’s now 200,” said Apperson who returned to the area last year.

That’s also been evident in serving the Hazelton area where instead of Christmas hampers, the Army distributes gift cards — it’s increased the value of the cards to keep up with prices.

Apperson’s comments follow criticism on social media from people wondering what was behind price increases, noting that items, mostly clothing, were donated in the first place.

“Everything has increased …. rent, groceries, gas, etc. and I think it’s a low blow to raise prices so high on items that have been given out of the kindess of people’s hearts,” read one portion of a social media post.

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