The president of Wentzville’s Mary Martha Thrift Store took to social media Tuesday morning to express frustration with a problem that is a growing burden for many local thrift stores: people dumping trash on their doorsteps
“We are sharing these photos to hopefully make the public aware of the dumping issue we have been dealing with,” Linda Adams posted on the Mary Martha Facebook page. “This entire load was dumped off in the middle of the night on our lot, partially blocking our entrance to our drop off shed and our volunteer entrance. Our neighbor was awakened by the loud noise of people just pushing this off their truck.”
Proceeds from the thrift store, which takes donations of items such as clothing and accessories, small household goods, home décor, toys, jewelry, and collectibles, help support local food pantries and other services for people in financial crisis.
The organization is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and its staff members are all volunteers.
A large sign outside the building explicitly states that the store, which is already in cramped quarters, cannot accept larger items. “People don’t seem to want to pay to get rid of things,” Adams said. “We seem to be the dumpsite.” She was forced to call a hauling company to come pick up the items. “We had to pay for that service, which takes away from donations we are able to give to the charities that help those in need.”
“Even then, it’s not so much about the money, it’s about the frustration,” she said.
Christine Miller, Manager of the Agape Hometown Thrift Store in Warrenton, deals with similar frustrations – in fact, her staff are gearing up for what Miller says is her least favorite day of the year: citywide garage sale day this Saturday. The store must rent an additional dumpster, bring in extra volunteers, and work longer hours so that they can deal with the influx of garage sale leftovers. Otherwise, Miller said, they would return to work on Monday morning to a mountain of cast-offs on their loading dock and back parking lot.
Miller said that she even has problems with other businesses dumping their unwanted items. “One time we found 24 of the exact same television set, with 24 remotes, and a huge pile of commercial drapes. My guess is that a motel was redecorating. They very carefully dumped them out of the range of our surveillance cameras.” Luckily, another local business stepped up and assisted with the disposal of the TVs.
The Agape thrift store accepts furniture by appointment only, since space at the shop is so limited. Miller said they generally accept about 50 percent of what is offered to them, and hope that the rest won’t end up dumped on the parking lot at night.
Like Adams, she is frustrated by the waste of money when Agape must pay to get rid of people’s trash. Proceeds from the thrift store fund the Agape Food Pantry, which services more than 1,200 Warren County residents each month.
After Adams posted on Facebook, a resident who lives nearby offered his help: “I live very close and its ridiculous how many people dump here and steal things from the donation bins . . . From here on out I will be extra vigilant for those dumping and stealing from this place. If I see anything I’ll be taking pictures, writing down license plates and calling the police immediately.” Other commenters offered to do the same, and the post had already been shared more than two dozen times by early afternoon by citizens hoping to help spread the word.
Adams said that it’s good to see the community stepping in to help. “We called the police to come and see what we are dealing with and they will increase their surveillance of our property. However, we need help to stop this.”
“Our volunteers are mostly senior women and men who give hours of their time and energy to help in this ministry. While we truly appreciate all the great donations we receive, please honor the efforts of these people by not dumping off trash that they will have to deal with.”
Miller echoed those sentiments. “Without donations, we don’t have a store. But please respect the fact that our resources are limited, and we’re trying to put everything we can back into the community.”
Anyone with information about dumping or trespassing at Mary Martha Thrift Store can contact the Wentzville Police Department at (636) 327-5105. At Agape Hometown Thrift Store, contact the Warrenton Police Department at (636) 456-7088.