Tri-City thrift stores becoming dump sites

When volunteer workers opened the Sails Outlet thrift store in Kennewick on Wednesday morning, they found a freezer on the doorstep.

And it was full of rotting food.

Dumping at area thrift stores is something that happens far too often, and paying to cart away the garbage uses money that otherwise would go for services.

Barbara Cunningham, Sails Outlet's volunteer manager, said people dump unusable items at the thrift store two to three times a week. Recently, they found a queen-size mattress tossed outside the door.

The "no dumping" and "no trespassing" signs don't seem to stop some people from leaving items that end up in the trash behind the thrift store at 408 N. Fruitland St. in Kennewick, she said.

Even if the donations were usable, as soon as they get dirty or wet, they become garbage.

But this was the first time a freezer with food has been dumped, she said. Broken furniture is more common.

Any money earned beyond operating expenses at the store benefits Safe Harbor Crisis Nursery, Cunningham said.

Sails Outlet, which only has volunteer employees, accepts donations when the store is open from 10 a.m.to 5 p.m. Tuesday throughFriday and noon to 4 p.m. Saturday.

The St. Vincent de Paul Society has items dumped at the St. Vincent Thrift Store at 1120 Sylvester St. in Pasco and at the society's Pasco food bank.

Sina Pierret, the society's president and food bank manager, said someone checks for garbage each day.

"It's an ongoing problem," she said.

The trash is collected until the nonprofit has a full truckload, which happens about once a month. Pierret said dumping that load can cost from $30 to $100.

And that's money that the nonprofit can't use to buy food for hungry families, she said.

The St. Vincent Thrift Store is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday and accepts donations during those times.

At Shop CI in Kennewick, Jeff Thompson, Columbia Industries director of operations, said cameras, a gate around the Dumpster area and a steel rope across the parking lot when the store is closed do help deter some dumping.

But Shop CI still gets some items, such as couches or old chairs, left once every week or two, he said.

But he said most people donate correctly and bring in donations that Shop CI can use. The thrift store is a training store for about 21 people with disabilities right now and can help them later get jobs in the community.

Shop CI, at 810 S Dayton St., Kennewick, accepts donations during open hours, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.