I have always loved giving to others. Even when I was feeding my family whatever I could get free (or nearly so) with coupons, I still made sure to donate to the food bank regularly. I’ve always made it a point to give with no expectations. Instead of selling all of our baby gear (and newborn diapers), we gave everything to a single mom we had helped the previous Christmas. I have no doubts that she was truly in need; I probably wouldn’t give to someone who I thought was “scamming.” At the same time, I was aware that she might decide to sell some of the items we gave her, so she could buy other things she needed, help pay her rent etc. and I was fine with that. Sure, we could have sold the baby stuff, but the warm fuzzies are better than money to me.
A local store had a free clothing swap so that families could come and get new items for their children. The owner wanted to make it totally free, saying that even if you had nothing to bring, come anyway. My husband and I emptied our attic and brought about a dozen totes full of nearly new, name-brand clothing and shoes so there would be a plethora of items for people to choose from. Though we struggled financially a great deal when our 8.5 year old was a baby, she was always well dressed thanks to generous family members and my knack for clearance shopping. My husband and I remarked that it wouldn’t surprise us if someone grabbed some of these items, and decided to sell them once they realized what they had & what they were worth – and we were fine with that. Maybe a mama could sell my daughter’s brand new Adidas superstars and get shoes for two of her kids!
What I didn’t expect was for the owner of a local consignment store (considered the hosting store’s “competitor” due to similar product lines they picked up after the host store opened) to come to the swap and “shop” for items to sell in her store. Even if she knew someone in need…she owns a consignment store!
Two of the items she took were my kids’ costumes, including this Tom Arma bunny costume.
I tried to think the best and told myself that perhaps she picked it up for someone. Nope. Both costumes turned up listed in their online consignment store; the bunny for $50. I was angry, hurt and sad. My husband was mostly angry. He called the shop and after some hemming & hawing was told that the proceeds of the sale would be used in their soon-to-be-opened cloth diaper lending closet. After his phone call, they updated the listings for our costumes to say such – though those were the only two items with this notation. I’m not going to speculate on the truth of that statement, nor my thoughts on that matter.
This was a huge punch in the gut for me since when my daughter was 18 months old, we were broke and struggling like many new families do. This name brand costume was a sacrifice for us to buy, so it was pretty special. The plan was to re-sell it since they are sought after and tend to retain their value. Fortunately, now we’re in a better position financially and decided to donate it to the swap. I was so excited for a mom to find this and dress her toddler up – maybe I’d even run into the little bunny, or see a photo! Even if said mama went home and found out she could sell it on Ebay for $40-50, what a blessing that might be to a struggling family.
Never in a million years did I expect this to happen. I try not to exhibit any behavior I wouldn’t want to explain to my Grandma, Google or my competitors (business-wise.) If this was their true intent, rather than to take high value items to re-sell, why not approach the store owner and propose that they do an auction with the leftover items, or something along those lines?
I do not want to stop giving, but things like this make me really question if I should continue to be generous.