Jeb Bladine: Thrift shops seeing surge of donations

MacHub is back in McMinnville, and the timing seems appropriate, based on a quick look at American culture and population characteristics.

The nonprofit online thrift shop, located behind Staples, is selling donated goods to raise funds for its parent charitable organization and other area nonprofits. Unlike storefront thrift shops, however, MacHub requires higher-value items to make the economics work.

MacHub’s parent is the Swedemom Center of Giving, located on the old Chemeketa Community College campus off Hill Road.

Swedemom coordinates online thrift shop operations for nonprofits in multiple states. MacHub is its “community hub” model, handling donations of high-value items to the center and a growing number of nonprofit partners.

One challenge for MacHub is donor education.


Jeb Bladine is president and publisher of the News-Register.

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The operation cannot afford to market hundreds or thousands of small-value items due to high costs of storage, handling and fulfillment in online sales. However, it doesn’t want donors to discard some obscure piece that could be a valuable collector’s item in the big world of online sales.

Overall, nonprofit thrift-shop operations are experiencing an explosion of donated goods. That’s partly because Baby Boomers are in full downsizing mode, in huge numbers.

Boomers continue handling the possessions of parents who have moved into smaller homes, group living facilities, care centers and the great beyond. With that lesson fresh in their minds, they are downsizing their own worlds.

One result is that Habitat for Humanity and St. Vincent de Paul thrift shops, among others, have seen donations skyrocket. Given their space and manpower limitations, however, this rising largesse has required new policies limiting the kinds of items they can accept.

Both local thrift shops are working with Swedemom to expand the horizon of their sales.

Goodwill, the nation’s largest nonprofit thrift shop operation, sees challenges in a downsizing America for similar reasons. One is the way our throwaway society has been overrun with clutter from lower-quality, lower-cost goods with limited lifespans.

Clothing is a particular issue with Goodwill. Americans buy four times as much clothing as they did in 1980, according to one recent report, and much involves cheaper, trendy items that have limited value by the time they are delivered to Goodwill. So more and more ends up in landfills.

To learn more about Swedemom and MacHub, visit www.machub.org. To learn even more about the MacHub operation, stop by its facility behind the north end of Staples.

Jeb Bladine can be reached at jbladine@newsregister.com or 503-687-1223.


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