As Internet auctions have become a more common way of buying and selling goods, a volunteer with the Social Service League Thrift Store has found a way to benefit the local community by starting an online branch of the store.
The volunteer, Meg Davis, got the idea to sell items online after she donated to larger thrift store chains and noticed that her higher-quality items weren’t being put on the stores’ shelves. When she asked what was happening, an employee told her the items were being sold online from a national database and that the money was benefiting national programs.
Davis wanted to support members of the local community instead of big programs, so she proposed to the Social Service League board to start an online presence of the local thrift store, 905 R.I., with 100 percent of the proceeds benefitting the needy in Lawrence.
Some of the services the Social Service League offers are a program for children whose families can’t afford glasses, a program for children who need new shoes and a program where high school girls can get a prom dress from the store if they can’t afford one. The Social Service League thrift store also accepts vouchers so underprivileged community members can come to the store for items they need.
The thrift store on Rhode Island will still accept donations, but the higher-dollar items will be kept off the shelves and sold online. The donor will get a receipt for the donation and can check that the item is in fact being sold online. After the item sells, the Social Service League will send a receipt with its selling price so the donor can get a tax deduction. If something doesn’t sell, the donor can take back the item, allow the league to drop the price, or repost it for sale.
Davis decided to use eBay as the sales site because, although the Social Service League hopes to develop its own thrift store website, she wanted to use an already popular venue with a national customer-base.
Items for sale will include antiques, dishes, jewelry and collectibles, but there will also be opportunities to buy original art.
Artists do not receive a tax deduction on donated artwork, so if they donate a piece to be sold, the Social Service League will offer them a write-up on eBay and a photo gallery, plus a mention on the Social Service League Facebook page as a way to direct potential buyers to the artists.
“Many artists want to donate to the community but don’t want 20 hours of their work to be thrown or given away,” said Mac-Kenzie Rose, who is handling the artist portion of the store.
If the artwork does not sell, the artist has the option to take back the piece or help the league decide on a way to sell it.
Davis and Rose hope these incentives will result in more art donations.
“This would not only benefit locals in need, but it would also benefit local artists,” Davis said.
The online store will launch at the annual Friends of the League party on Nov. 5 at Free State Glass, 307 E. Ninth St. The Social Service League Thrift Store is still accepting donations and will continue to operate as usual. To donate higher-priced items, contact Meg Davis at firstname.lastname@example.org