30th July 2007
Goodwill, Salvation Army, Value Village and the like do a good job collecting donated items from individuals (and discontinues items from retail stores) and selling them cheap for those who can use them, and employing people in the process. Goodwill especially strives to employ disabled people in all capacities – not only sorting and pricing but also at register. I sometimes joke that Goodwill is spiritually equivalent to khadi in America
What about Indian clothes? Most likely these stores can’t sell them. Many people want to donate Indian clothes to organisations like AID. In some cases we are able to take them and give them to needy folks in India. But sometimes this becomes costlier than it is worth, especially when we start dealing with larger quantities. Apart from the logistics of transporting, sorting, etc, NRI clothes quite frankly are not the best suited for rural and urban-poor lifestyles.
Yesterday we held a yard sale in Silver Spring, Maryland and along with our handicraft and khadi products from Indian village partners, we also put up 5-6 bags worth of second hand saris & salvar kamiz sets that people had donated. Much to our surprise these were very popular among the American / International crowd. A young Indian woman stopped by and bought some handicrafts, then promptly went home and brought back 3 kurtas to donate for sale. These were actually new. Another Indian woman bought both handicrafts and a second-hand salwar suit in very good condtion – for a fraction of what it would have cost new.
Many Indians in US are overflowing with Indian clothes and have not enough places to go in them. Of course they could take them back to India and donate them to needy in their neighborhoods back home. Next best thing is to hold a yard sale and just donate the money for a good cause.
So that is what AID facilitated – and we found that people were quite happy to get a chance to buy these “fancy” outfits that may not necessarily be the latest fashion in India or among NRIs but were different and exciting for someone new to them. We sold 2-piece and 3-piece sets for $5. Next time we might consider $10 for the ones with finer embroidery. Saris went for $10, and a silk sari for $15. With proper hangers or racks, these easily draw people and give Indian community a chance to see their gently used outfits help a good cause.