Donation bins cause confusion, concern for nonprofits

Donation bins cause confusion, concern for nonprofits

guadalupe resale shop inventoryRecently, donation bins have been popping up in parking lots across Southwest Florida. 

These unattended metal bins, which resemble oversized postal boxes, share two common elements: they often feature green colors to promote recycling and many incorporate the word “donate” so people think they’re helping a good cause. 

In many cases, though, these donations bins are not directly supporting a charitable cause. In fact, some bins are providing inventory for businesses that resell those donations for a profit. 

For example, for-profit textile recycling companies based in Tampa and Davie have donation bins in Southwest Florida to collect clothing and shoes. Meanwhile, a for-profit book retailer headquartered in Indiana also has a trio of local donation bins to collect used books, which are then resold online. 

In each case, these businesses are upfront in noting they are for-profit entities that donate an undisclosed portion of their sales to charitable causes. Potential donors can donate goods directly to a nonprofit, though, and have 100% of proceeds support that cause.

Four Tips

As these parking lot donation bins become commonplace in Collier and Lee counties, it’s important to keep these four tips in mind: 

  • Consider local nonprofits: Dozens of reputable nonprofits and churches in Southwest Florida operate resale stores and thrift shops, including Guadalupe Center, St. Matthew’s House, Avow, Goodwill, Habitat for Humanity and others. They rely on quality donations to stock shelves, and every sale helps support the cause. Sales generated at Guadalupe Resale Shop, for instance, account for 9% of Guadalupe Center’s annual funding, money that supports life-changing educational programs for students in Immokalee. 
  • Research who is behind the donation bin: A little sleuthing and a quick Google search can reveal the organization that maintains a donation bin. In the cases above, each name listed comes back to a dot-com, a tell-tale sign that it’s a business venture. Donors essentially are providing these companies with inventory or raw materials.
  • Don’t leave donations exposed to the elements: Resale shop volunteers and staff will help supporters unpack donations and provide a tax receipt during business hours. Do not leave donations unattended outside of a thrift store or donation bin. A box of moldy, waterlogged donations, including a winter coat, clothing and purse, was recently spotted on the ground near one of these bins, effectively rendering the donation worthless.
  • Know what nonprofits want or don’t want: Secondhand shops want quality donations that fetch higher resale prices, but not every shop accepts electronics, office furniture, baby clothing or other items. Check their wish list prior to packing donation boxes. 

It’s uncertain whether for-profits’ donation bins are having a noticeable impact on resale shops run by nonprofits. However, every book, dress or suit jacket that goes into one of these bins is a donation that does not have a chance to help local nonprofits fulfill their missions and enhance the lives of the community members they serve. 

kat mcnabb– By Kat McNabb, Manager of Guadalupe Resale Shop

Tutor Corps students shop for future at Guadalupe Resale Shop

Each year, Guadalupe Resale Shop welcomes high school graduates of Guadalupe Center’s Tutor Corps Program for a fun shopping trip.

Students are allowed to select up to 10 items priced at $40 or less, at no cost. Students often use this opportunity to add pants, long-sleeved shirts, sweaters, jackets and coats to their wardrobes, as well as business attire for job interviews and formal events.

Check out photos of the Tutor Corps Class of 2021 shopping at Guadalupe Resale Shop.

Tutor Corps Shopping Trip

Prized artwork and precious metals seek new homes in Southwest Florida

When one thinks of “treasure hunting,” images of sword-swinging pirates and metal detectors racing over the beach may come to mind. But for most modern-day treasure hunters, the search happens in air-conditioned strip malls, where thrift and resale stores offer a thrilling prospect of treasure hiding in plain sight.

Valuable items once housed in Naples-area homes have made their way to the shelves of Guadalupe Resale Shop, an upscale resale store in North Naples specializing in like-new furniture, clothing and home décor. The Resale Shop regularly receives donations of designer labels, fine jewelry, antique curiosities and high-quality furnishings. On occasion, though, there is a proverbial shimmer of gold in the pan, and something that may have once been pricey turns out to be priceless.

Fortunately, these treasures aren’t falling into unwitting hands. The Resale Shop has a history of pairing valuable décor with savvy buyers. In 2019, for instance, Toronto-based art collector Ron Woods purchased an original oil painting by S. Lewiston, valued at $2,000, for a bargain price of $175. The painting, one of Lewiston’s signature tableaus of the Venetian canals, now hangs in the library at St. Joseph’s Villa, a retirement community in Dundas, Ontario. Just one year later, international gallery curator Aldo Castillo discovered “Janet,” a lifelike statue by prolific hyperrealist sculptor Marc Sijan, in the Resale Shop’s front window. Castillo, a Naples resident, had been a longtime donor to Resale Shop, and thus was not surprised to find such an extraordinary piece of art on display. “People in Naples donate some very nice things,” Castillo noted. Much to the joy of local investors and resellers, these “nice things,” especially artwork and jewelry, will only appreciate value over time.

At Guadalupe Resale Shop, it’s more than just the shoppers hawking for treasure who benefit from high-value items. Proceeds help fund the Guadalupe Center’s transformational education programs for low-income students in Immokalee, including the nationally accredited Early Childhood Education Program, After-school Tutoring & Summer Enrichment Program and the college-preparatory Tutor Corps Program. Each is designed to foster personal and academic success, preparing students to be lifelong learners and leaders.

Guadalupe Center serves more than 1,400 students per year, and as more supporters donate high-end items to the Resale Shop, that number will only continue to grow. To put things into perspective, Castillo’s purchase of the “Janet” statue alone provided Guadalupe Center with enough funds to outfit a preschool classroom with a year’s worth of art and music supplies. These remarkable donations are creating opportunities all over the county, and as collectors are finding their next great investment, local children are finding their passion.

Guadalupe Resale Shop accepts donations throughout the year, and all donations are tax-deductible. The Resale Shop also offers free home pickup for large items, such as bedroom furniture and kitchen tables.

You never know who – or what – will wander through the doors of Guadalupe Resale Shop. Even if customers don’t walk away with a priceless treasure, they’ll still have made a difference in the lives of students in Immokalee.

– By Kat McNabb, manager of Guadalupe Resale Shop

End-of-season donations welcomed at Guadalupe Resale Shop

Guadalupe Resale Shop is requesting donations of like-new furniture, clothing and home décor before seasonal residents head north for the summer.

“The end of season is a great time for winter residents to let go of gently used items they may no longer need,” said Kat McNabb, store manager. “Since the Resale Shop supports a nonprofit, Guadalupe Center, supporters can feel confident that their donations are helping a great cause in the community where they spend their winters.”

Guadalupe Resale Shop is an upscale boutique in North Naples. Proceeds from sales benefit Guadalupe Center’s three education programs: the nationally accredited Early Childhood Education Program, After-school Tutoring & Summer Enrichment Program and college-preparatory Tutor Corps Program. Guadalupe Center’s mission is breaking the cycle of poverty through education for the children of Immokalee.

Guadalupe Resale Shop accepts donations of high-quality, gently used:

– Household furniture

– Home décor

– Kitchenware

– Lamps

– Linens

– DVDs and CDs

– Books

– Ladies’ and men’s clothing, including shoes

– Accessories, including purses and jewelry

The Resale Shop does not accept donations of electronics, armoires, entertainment centers, used household appliances, mattresses, children’s and babies’ clothes, toys, light fixtures, ceiling fans, gardening tools and exercise equipment.

The Resale Shop is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Mondays through Saturdays. Donations are accepted from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Mondays through Saturdays from a curbside drop-off behind the store. The shop handles all donations according to COVID-19 safety protocols. 

Tips for decorating your home on a tight budget

We’ve all browsed through a department store catalog or furniture showroom, coming across a beautiful piece that would look great in our family room.

It’s the right color, the right size, the right quality and the right style… but way out of our price range.

It happens. A lot.

April is National Decorating Month. Instead of focusing on pricey redecorating projects, perhaps it’s time to start shopping smart and shopping thrifty. You can indeed upgrade your home or condominium without running up a credit card bill.

Below are five ways to decorate your home or condominium on a tight budget:

Shop at Resale Stores

Southwest Florida’s affluent seasonal residents may only live in their Collier or Lee homes for a few weeks each year. Yet, many love the art of redecorating. Before they can be “in with the new,” they must be “out with the old.” Oftentimes, they’ll donate like-new, brand-name furniture, home décor and accessories to local resale stores. Shoppers can find essentially new, high-quality items up to 90% off the original retail price. Paying $250 for a barely used $2,500 sofa is a score worth celebrating.

Many resale stores support area nonprofits, too, so shopping there also is supporting community organizations.

Wall Art

Art lovers flock to museums to admire works of art from da Vinci, Michelangelo, Rembrandt, Van Gogh and Picasso. Obviously, their works of art are pricey. In fact, all original artwork is pricey.

However, technology has improved so much that it’s difficult to tell what is original and what is a print. Today’s canvas prints can have texture and contrast that mirror original paintings. Manufacturers even make digital oil paintings.

Quality prints look great in every room. The key is focusing on the frame. Avoid plastic or mass-produced, store-bought frames. Fall in love with the artwork first, and then look for a frame to match.

Accessorize

Department stores sell table lamps in all shapes and sizes, but they are mass produced in a factory. Chances are, several neighbors have the same lamps. Find a base with a unique design, and try to match the color and style to the room.

Adding throw pillows to a sofa or daybed is a great way to accessorize. Again, choose a color pattern that fits a room’s color and wall art.

Another easy addition is a tchotchke, which can fill voids on bookshelves and end tables. Tchotchkes offer a little flair and personality, as well as conversation-starters for guests.

Room-by-Room Decorating

Interior designers often emphasize a home’s “flow.” However, each room doesn’t need to adhere to the same decorating style. For instance, look at the White House. The East Room is adjacent to the Green Room, but each has its own purpose and personality.

A single-family home can work the same way. Perhaps you elect to decorate your living room with a Florida style with pastel colors, travel-themed artwork and seashell-filled glass lamps. Meanwhile, your dining room is contemporary with clean, soft lines and neutral colors.

Ask yourself where you spend the most time inside your home. Start there.

Outdoor Space

We live in Florida for one reason – the beautiful weather. Outdoor living spaces can be as simple as a table and chairs, or as luxe as an entire entertaining space featuring an outdoor kitchen, dining area and recreational space.

The key in creating an outdoor oasis is comfortable seating. Unlike interior rooms, where cable connections, doors and windows dictate design, outdoor spaces can be free-flowing. Choose weather-resistant patio furniture that won’t be damaged by sunlight, rain and high humidity.

Redecorating on a tight budget is entirely possible. Spring is a great time to tweak our home interiors before summer rain and heat start sending us indoors for a few months. 

– By Kat McNabb, Manager of Guadalupe Resale Shop

Spring cleaning: Tidy up with a purpose

Spring training and spring break offer a much-needed economic boost for our region as visitors stay, eat, shop and play in Southwest Florida.

Although not quite as glamorous, spring cleaning also is beneficial to our community.

When you clean, refresh and update your home, how do you dispose of surplus items? Yard sales aren’t as popular or profitable as they once were, so oftentimes, people just set those items by the curb on trash day.

Not everything we no longer want is worthless, though. Our tastes, decorating styles or needs simply may have changed. In fact, many household items placed on the curb have a strong resale value… if given the chance.

Across Southwest Florida, nonprofit organizations will gladly accept donations and resell those items in their resale stores or thrift shops. This revenue helps support programs and services that are vital to our community, like education, youth, housing, hunger, employment and social services.

Spring cleaning quests are focused on getting rid of stuff, but throwing items with a resale value to the curb is equivalent to sending cash into the incinerator. Local nonprofits rely on your donations to make ends meet. Throwing out an end table or lamp, for instance, might free up some space in your living room or garage, but donating that end table or lamp is like giving $20 or $25 to the nonprofit of your choice.

Southwest Florida’s resale stores offer a treasure trove of goods and bargain hunters know which stores have the best merchandise. Not all locations accept the same types of donations, though, so it’s important to call ahead or look online for donation guidelines.

Guadalupe Resale Shop, for example, accepts donations of quality furniture, home décor, artwork, kitchenware, lamps, linens, DVDs and CDs, books and more, as well as all types of new and gently used ladies’ and men’s clothing, including accessories such as jewelry, purses and nearly new shoes. In 2021, the Resale Shop’s greatest needs are donations of like-new living room, dining room, bedroom and patio furniture, as well as home décor and brand-name clothing. These types of items sell quickly and command higher sales prices that enhance transformational, life-changing education programs for more than 1,400 students in Immokalee. Guadalupe Center generates nearly 9% of its annual operating budget through Guadalupe Resale Shop.

The concept of spring cleaning dates back to the days when fireplaces heated our homes during the winter. Once March and April rolled around, it was time to clean the soot and dirt that had accumulated. We no longer need to worry about that issue, especially not in Florida, but spring cleaning is still an annual ritual for many. According to data from the American Cleaning Institute, more than three-fourths of households engage in spring cleaning each year.

For any retail store, there is a delicate balance between inventory and sales. During the summer, many resale stores in Collier and Lee counties sell more items than they receive in donations. March, April and May are critical periods to build inventory that will carry stores through June, July, August and September.

In Southwest Florida, thousands of retirees and couples are preparing to head north for the summer. It’s the perfect time to clean, and the perfect time to make a donation to a charitable cause.

– By Kat McNabb, Manager of Guadalupe Resale Shop

Guadalupe Resale Shop needs volunteers for high season

Guadalupe Resale Shop is in need of volunteers to help process donations, price items, stock shelves, create displays, assist customers and ring up purchases at its North Naples showroom.

The nonprofit organization typically has more than 100 dedicated volunteers who lend their services during the year. However, some winter residents are staying up North this season because of COVID-19 while local volunteers are limiting their outside interactions.

“Volunteers typically only ‘work’ a few hours each week or month, so it doesn’t feel like a ‘job,’” said Kat McNabb, store manager. “To them, it’s important to continue giving back to the community, and volunteering at the Resale Shop allows them to help enhance educational opportunities for the next generation of students.”

Proceeds from the Resale Shop help Guadalupe Center create endless possibilities through its nationally accredited Early Childhood Education Program, After-school Tutoring & Summer Enrichment Program and college-preparatory Tutor Corps Program. Guadalupe Center’s mission is to break the cycle of poverty through education for the children of Immokalee.

In 2020, Resale Shop volunteers logged more than 12,000 hours of volunteer time.

Since the pandemic began, Guadalupe Resale Shop has introduced a series of safety measures to keep volunteers, shoppers and donors safe. The list includes:

Encouraging shoppers and donors who are experiencing a fever or cough, or recently displayed any symptoms, to delay their visit.

Providing hand sanitizing stations throughout the showroom floor.

Requiring staff, volunteers and customers to wear protective face masks and maintain six-foot social distancing.

Sanitizing changing rooms after each use.

Holding all clothing donations for a minimum of 24 hours and thoroughly cleaning other donations before offering them for sale.

Maintaining the no-return policy to ensure all items inside the showroom have been cleaned and sanitized.

The Resale Shop is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Mondays through Saturdays. Donations are accepted from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Mondays through Saturdays from a curbside drop-off behind the store. 

LEARN MORE: How to Volunteer

Year-end donations: What nonprofits want, need

This time each year, resale shops and thrift stores are inundated with donations. At times, there might even be lines of vehicles waiting to donate items.

Why late December? There are obvious tax advantages in making donations to charitable 501(c)(3) organizations by Dec. 31. Nonprofits also appreciate the additional inventory as “high season” approaches in Southwest Florida.

Volunteers will gladly help donors unload their donations, but not every item makes it to the showroom floor. Any store – whether it’s a nonprofit’s resale shop or a high-end corporate boutique – only wants to display items that are going to sell. These three factors help store managers decide whether to accept a particular item:

* Condition: Is it new or like-new?

* Demand: Will shoppers want to buy it?

* Resale price: Would it help generate sales revenue that supports the mission?

In recent years, more donors at Guadalupe Resale Shop in North Naples have asked what constitutes a “high-quality” donation. Customers are advised to ask themselves, “Is this something I would give to a friend?” If the answer is yes, then typically that item will have a good value in the resale market. However, if the answer is no, then it’s not likely someone else would purchase it, either.

When considering an end-of-year donation, it’s important to have a plan before cleaning your home and loading donations into your vehicle:

Know Donation Guidelines 

Resale stores have donation rules to guide donors. Guadalupe Resale Shop, for example, accepts donations of quality furniture, home décor, artwork, kitchenware, lamps, linens, DVDs and CDs, books and more, as well as all types of new and gently used ladies’ and men’s clothing, including accessories such as jewelry, purses and nearly new shoes. The Resale Shop does not accept donations of electronics, used household appliances, mattresses, children’s clothing and toys, baby equipment, gardening tools, light fixtures, ceiling fans, armoires, entertainment centers and exercise equipment.

However, other resale stores in Southwest Florida will gladly accept those items. They may either have more shoppers looking for those type of products, or handymen volunteers who can fix electronics and appliances in need of a tune-up.

Check online to see if a resale store publishes its donation guidelines, or call the store ahead of time to ask. Some stores may turn away a donation if they already have a lot of that particular product on the shelves or are lacking ample storage space.

Know the Mission

Thrift stores in Southwest Florida support a variety of charitable causes, including education, youth, housing, hunger, employment and social services. Although a desire to clean the house or capture a tax deduction might have inspired the donation, donors should target a cause that’s near and dear to their hearts.

Resale stores should also make it clear how a donor’s items will support the cause. Guadalupe Resale Shop provides direct support for education programs at Guadalupe Center, which has a mission of breaking the cycle of poverty through education for the children of Immokalee. Inside of the store, the Resale Shop plays inspirational, impactful videos on a TV screen to show shoppers how their purchases are creating endless possibilities for the children of Immokalee.

Each time another vehicle pulls into the donation line, it’s one more opportunity to impact the lives of children, seniors, veterans or other groups within our community. Let’s hope the donation line stays long into the new year.

Stein Mart shopper buys out store, donates clothing to Guadalupe Resale Shop

Nearly 280 Stein Mart locations nationwide were set for closure after the company filed for bankruptcy, including five in Southwest Florida.

Shoppers took advantage of steep discounts on all merchandise as Stein Mart liquidated its assets. One of Guadalupe Resale Shop’s supporters visited the location near Pelican Bay in Naples on Oct. 29, just hours before it was set to close its doors for the final time.

The mood was somewhat somber. Inventory was limited. The handful of remaining employees were about to be unemployed.

The Resale Shop supporter wasn’t there to shop for herself, though. She was on a mission, for a mission, and began filling up shopping bags with deeply discounted clothing. She intended to buy everything and donate it all to the Resale Shop, which supports educational programs for students in Immokalee.

One bag turned into two, which turned into three, and so forth. When employees found out what she was doing, they started chipping in money of their own.

“The sales staff were about to lose their jobs, yet felt so strongly about what I was doing that they wanted to help, too,” said the shopper, who wanted her deed to remain anonymous. “I was just so touched. Charity just breeds more charity.”

When all was said and done, her sales receipt measured nearly 11 feet! The total retail price was more than $6,000, but after discounts, she paid just a little over $200.

She and her husband then delivered the items to Guadalupe Resale Shop,

Resale Shop volunteers left the tags on each item, a sales technique that helps move inventory quicker because shoppers know they’re getting brand-new items at great prices. The Resale Shop has a growing contingent of donors and shoppers who are helping Guadalupe Center accomplish its mission of breaking the cycle of poverty through education for the children of Immokalee.

Guadalupe Center serves more than 1,400 students annually through its nationally accredited Early Childhood Education Program, After-school Tutoring & Summer Enrichment Program and college-preparatory Tutor Corps Program. The nonprofit relies on proceeds from the Resale Shop and philanthropic support from individuals, foundations and businesses to keep programs accessible for lower-income families.

“Every donation and sale at Guadalupe Resale Shop helps support our mission, but this particular donor went above and beyond,” said Dawn Montecalvo, president of Guadalupe Center. “It’s actually a fabulous idea. So many retail stores have clearance, BOGO and going-out-of-business sales, and knowing when to buy and donate can be a tremendous help to Guadalupe Resale Shop and other nonprofits that rely on donations to carry out their missions.”

Donation FAQs

Guadalupe Resale Shop accepts donations of quality furniture, home décor, artwork, kitchenware, lamps, linens, DVDs and CDs, books and more, as well as all types of new and gently used ladies’ and men’s clothing, including accessories such as jewelry, purses and nearly new shoes.

Donations are accepted from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays at a drop-off station behind Guadalupe Resale Shop, which is located at 12980 Tamiami Trail North, Unit #10, in Naples. Guadalupe Resale Shop offers a FREE furniture pick-up service by calling 239-594-2696.

LEARN MORE: How and what to donate

– By Kat McNabb, Manager of Guadalupe Resale Shop

Minimalism: an interior design trend that helps you, nonprofits

Our closets are filled with stuff. Our garages are filled with stuff. Our bookshelves and drawers are filled with stuff. 

As Americans, it’s almost second nature to acquire stuff – clothing, books, souvenirs, knickknacks, wall artdishware and a multitude of personal items. 

Millennials began bucking the trend about five years ago, favoring experiences over belongings. Now, minimalism has become mainstream. Everyone from first-time homeowners to retirees are decluttering and simplifying their homesJust flip on the TV and you’re bound to stumble across a home improvement or redecorating show where hosts are emphasizing simplicity. 

Minimalism isn’t about removing every painting to reveal barren walls or tossing tchotchkes off the shelves. It’s about having the right balance. It’s about having items that speak to your tastes and personality. 

Essentially, it’s about having the right “stuff” at this particular point in your life. 

Unlike some extinct interior design trends, such as wall-to-wall carpeting and popcorn ceilingsCOVID-19 helped affirm that minimalism is here to stay. Here’s why: 

  • Stuff costs money: The pandemic taught us that economic situations might change at any moment. Stock market drops can wipe away retirement savings in the blink of an eye. No industry is recession- or pandemic-proof, even government jobs and those requiring college degrees. Going forward, consumers will be closely scrutinizing their expenditures and building rainy day funds. 
  • Stuff clutters living spaces: Florida’s “safer at home” order forced many professionals to work from home, only to find themselves less productive. That’s because our brains prefer order, and researchers say clutter creates distractions, stress and anxiety. It’s also difficult to unwind with stacks of dirty dishes in the sink or piles of dirty laundry in the bedroom. 
  • Stuff isn’t important: That snow globe you bought on sale or free bobblehead you got at the ballgame just take up space and collect dustUnlike family or health, many household objects aren’t important. You likely walk past dozens of items daily without even noticing their presence. 

Once you’ve made the decision to declutter, it’s time to formulate a plan of attack. 

(1) Schedule it

Set a date and time to inventory and clean each room in your home. Otherwise, procrastination can derail ambition.  

(2) Set parameters

When deciding which items to keep, first identify if you have a personal connection to an item, whether you have used or enjoyed it recently and whether it has any value. 

(3) Trash vs. donation

If you no longer need or want an item, would someone else? Only donate items that other people may consider purchasing. While it’s true that someone’s trash can be another person’s treasure, it’s also true that someone’s trash can be another person’s trash.  

(4) Find a cause

In Southwest Florida, many nonprofits operate resale shops and thrift stores that welcome donations, which ultimately are resold to generate support for programs and services. Local causes include education, hunger, employment, housing, religion and more. Donating higher-value items allows your organization of choice to sell items at higher prices, thus raising additional funds to support the mission. Plus, donations often are considered tax deductible. 

When you’re ready to jump on the minimalism trend, please consider donating quality furniture, home décor, artwork, kitchenware, lamps, linens, DVDs and CDs, books and more, as well as all types of new and gently used ladies and men’s clothing, including accessories such as jewelry, purses and nearly new shoes. Call ahead to make sure a nonprofit accepts the items you want to donate. 

Every donation and sale allows nonprofits to accomplish their goals and enhance our community. 

– By Kat McNabb, Manager of Guadalupe Resale Shop.

READ MORE:

Captivating sculpture finds new home, funds new educational opportunities
Teens fill the volunteer void as seniors wait out COVID-19