Personal Posts

Hurt. Angry. Learned My Lesson.

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.

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.


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Maria Moser
Maria is the mother of 3, writing about cloth diapers & going green. You'll often find her juggling her preschooler and typing 1-handed in between sips of cold coffee. Maria works with many companies within the cloth diaper industry and beyond, providing social media management, product development and other services.
19 Comments
  • Jenn Nodine
    January 21, 2014 at 5:07 am
    Reply

    It’s not a nice feeling we get when we realize someone has turned our generosity into an opportunity to profit. That said, every time we donate something to a thrift store, that’s exactly what’s going on. Have you ever checked into the annual salary of the CEO’S at Goodwill? It will make you sick once you do, trust me. But it’s still a good organization to donate to because most of the money spent there stays in the community and it helps local families afford things they normally wouldn’t be able to buy. It’s also better environmentally to reuse things instead of throwing them away.
    You never know, maybe that consignment store owner is down and out. I don’t think owning a shop like that is all too lucrative, when yu add up all the overhead, self employment taxes, health insurance costs, advertising, etc, you’d have to sell a lot of products just to stay in business. And I believe that a lot of people try to bargain in consignment stores, so if the owner of an item has a minimum amount they want for it, the discount comes out of the shop owner’s profit. We all assume that people who own their own business have lots of money but it’s untrue in many cases, especially for small business owners. It’s more than likely that your costumes still helped a struggling family put food on the table. Hope that makes you feel a little better about it. 🙂

  • abedabun dawn
    October 24, 2013 at 2:52 am
    Reply

    I have had a similar experience. We had a neighbor whom I gave furniture to (their daughter was sleeping on the floor) . I even helped put it in her daughters bedroom (looked really nice). A few weeks later I found a few kid sheets and two comforters. I took the comforters to her home and vol. to help put the things on the bed before her daughter got home from school. She said she didnt have time because she had errands to run. A few days later, I seen the little girl playing outside, I asked her how she liked her “new” comforter, she said she liked it but her mom sold the bed and other furniture I gave to her because it wasnt any good. That broke my heart! For one thing, the furniture was really nice! And the poor child was sleeping on the FLOOR! I just look at the whole mess as, I tried. And move on. I will not stop helping where and when I can. God tells us to help others. Its up to those you help to do the right thing also.

  • October 23, 2013 at 1:23 pm
    Reply

    I would be disappointed too, but at the end of the day, you were acting out of the goodness of your heart and I believe we get what we give. I would also make sure people in your local social circle know what happened so they can avoid the shop that did this.

  • victoria w.
    October 23, 2013 at 12:17 pm
    Reply

    Hi

    Just want to say don’t give up 🙂

    I’m a Mama to a little guy’s who’s wardrobe is mostly gently loved and has been passed on through others. As a disabled mama with hubby in school and a surprise baby it was the kindness of people who helped us out without being asked that helped us adjust/get ready/ and get excited since the news came at a rougher time. Now that things are better for us I know we’ll be passing on the same gift when it’s time 🙂

  • October 23, 2013 at 11:26 am
    Reply

    This is so sad! As someone who has shopped at this store and supported them by purchasing items there and giving them publicity with my blog, I am so disappointed. I will no longer be doing so.

    On another note, I had no idea you were so close to my neck of the woods. Kinda cool to know you are a fellow local blogger. 🙂

  • Shalaina S
    October 23, 2013 at 3:01 am
    Reply

    It seems when we get older that phrase “one rotten apple spoils the bunch” is even more true. It really is crummy that someone could take something innocent and well meaning like an item swap and make it selfish and about profit. I can see why you would second guess donating anything else anywhere. I hooe you don’t get discouraged though. If you help even one more family while ten companies profit from your good intentions, it was worth it. I hope you and your family keep bringing joy to others despite this unfortunate situation. Stay blessed 🙂

  • October 23, 2013 at 1:53 am
    Reply

    Oh my gosh, that’s AWFUL! (And that photo is SO DANG CUTE!) I really hate that people would do stuff like that 🙁 It’s really discouraging when you hear/see how many items that are donated to different charities end up being thrown out or (in this case, not “purchased” with the spirit of the event in mind!) When I donate something we don’t have use for anymore, I like the idea that it will help somebody out (who maybe doesn’t have the money to pay for a stylish new coat, but still needs something functional to keep warm in the winter). The idea of somebody accepting my donation and then throwing it in the trash (which apparently a lot of places do!) is appalling! The idea of somebody taking my donation (who doesn’t even need it!) and then using it for their own gain is just as bad, in it’s own separate way 🙁 I’m glad your husband at least called to complain, and maybe in the future there will be some kind of posted guideline to prevent a similar situation (not that you’d be able to enforce it, but then at least people could say, “But LOOK, she KNEW what she was doing was wrong! There’s a rule about it!” and steer clear of her and her store in the future).

  • October 23, 2013 at 12:24 am
    Reply

    That is so horrible!

    I am an incredibly naive & optimistic person and love to give whenever I get the chance. I have never run into something like this, at least that I know of…

  • Miranda
    October 22, 2013 at 11:54 pm
    Reply

    This totally happened to me! I gave a girl who said she needed items and had no money a few big baby items (bumbo, walker and exersaucer) Mostly because I wanted to be nice and repay the kindness we were given…sure we could prob use them hopefully again but oh well.

    A while after she is selling them on the facebook site where she contacted me! I left the site angry and hurt. But, I decided to forgive her and think that maybe she needed the money for something better for her child?!

  • Ashley B.
    October 22, 2013 at 10:53 pm
    Reply

    The picture is adorable, but I’m so sorry that happened 🙁 I will work hard to bless other families directly just as we have been so fortunate to receive wonderful hand me downs from others!

  • October 22, 2013 at 8:40 pm
    Reply

    That really stinks. I know we donated a ton of stuff to our local ‘giveaway’ the first year, and didn’t find out until later that someone came in and got ALL the furniture, lamps, anything re-salable for their secondhand store and trucked it all away. Like came in and said ‘we’ll take all the furniture’. I think that’s why they don’t do furniture or appliances or whatever anymore and just stick to clothes and household items. Now these people (we had been there) had WAREHOUSES full of items from auctions and such, they weren’t hurting.

    Granted, we have gone to ‘shop’ for free (after donating) as well, and got a few bags of fun items (some with tags even) for our kids–but I’m certain eventually most of what we have is going to end up there anyway a few years down the road… also whatever is left does go to salvation army or what have you, so it all will eventually go to someone in need.

  • Brooke B.
    October 22, 2013 at 7:59 pm
    Reply

    I have seen similar things happen and struggled with my feelings as well. While I don’t believe in “karma”, I do think that people tend to get back what they give. Even if that just means that they have to live with the ick feelings you get when you do something shady.

  • October 22, 2013 at 7:14 pm
    Reply

    That IS upsetting.

    Maybe next time YOU could sell the items and donate the money you make to a reputable non-profit organization?

    • October 22, 2013 at 8:28 pm
      Reply

      Good idea for next time. I have one costume that didn’t get put in the totes, I’m thinking about auctioning it to donate the proceeds.

  • October 22, 2013 at 6:59 pm
    Reply

    So. Messed. Up. Just… I have no words. So sorry this happened to you. I’d be so ticked off. Must make you sick.

    • October 22, 2013 at 8:28 pm
      Reply

      It does. I was really angry at first, now I’m just sad. I didn’t want a mama to pay $50 for it, I wanted someone to have a memory of getting the great costume for free!

  • Rachel N
    October 22, 2013 at 6:48 pm
    Reply

    That is so wrong! It’s people like that who ruin everything. I only donate to friends or friends of friends, ect because of this. Otherwise I take stuff to the local not for profit thrift store. They donate their proceeds to charity, the employees are volunteers and the local woman’s shelter is allowed to shop for free there.

    • October 22, 2013 at 8:30 pm
      Reply

      We take a lot to Goodwill and I’m not sure at this point if that’s a good idea either from the conflicting things I’ve heard. If we hadn’t found the mama to give our baby things to, I wanted to take them to the women’s shelter. I love the idea of a thrift store where the women’s shelter can shop for free!

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