This is a copy of the letter I have emailed them...
Your company should be ashamed of yourselves.
Over the last year or so, your prices, especially in the clothing department, have risen at least 30 %.
In the current economic times we are in now, bargain shopping is crucial ! From what I am seeing at your stores, over half of the time, a bargain is NOT to be found.
I believe in a time with Ebay, you have overzealous, uneducated, or uncaring employees (wether it be at a local store or in the corporate office) who are valuing items way too high, USED items way too high !
I shopped at your Lynnwood store last week. After wading through masses of Target clothing, I found a half dozen things I would consider purchasing, before I went to check out, I inspected them and low and behold, all of them had some sort of stain, hole, run etc...and all were priced way to expensive to waste my time and money to take them home and not be able to repair or clean them enough to wear ! I ended up buying just one of those items and tossing the rest to be put back on the sales floor.
I do realize that your pricers have thousands of items to go through. But answer me this, don't you think that it would be better for all parties if you lowered your price points so shoppers would be buying more, you would have less to process as rag-offs (unless you greatly benefit tax wise for "ragging off" all those items) and shoppers would be a bit more willing to take that chance of buying a damaged used item ? It is a waste to overprice things and have them sit there for weeks. I am aware you have the certain colored tag "half off" and then $1.29 or .99 for one day, however, I and more like myself cannot benefit from it, because, I work.
I also wanted to address your prices and the fact that a good percentage of your prices are as high or higher than what you can find brand new or brand new in stores like Marshalls or Ross !I regularly see clothing from Old Navy, Target and other low end brands priced for what you would pay for them on sale at these stores...and those items I see priced so high are USED !! I see jeans at Marshalls priced at $9.99 and $12.99. I see Marshall's clearance items priced at $3.00-$5.00 ! I see items that are dated 7-15 years that are priced like an item that is 1-2 years old !
The employees who are doing the pricing are 1. Not taking into account cheap inexpensive brand names and they are being way overpriced 2. Taking into account the brand names they think are expensive and going on a rampage with them (usually not taking into account how old/dated an item is) and overpricing them and 3. Not taking into account on anything that may have damage.
Your employees in charge of pricing need better training, they need to be required to go out and "shop" different stores to see what prices are on new items, shop the sale racks at stores and see what the discounted prices go for.
I would suspect over half of the inventory you have on the sales floor accounts for clothing (men's, women's, children's) and I would suspect that 35-50% of the clothing does not sell due to pricing, and ends up at your "outlet".
Is all that labor and effort worth all the labor and effort just to be eventually sold by the pound ? I would gather that it is not particularly good business sense. You can sell more (and customers will take more of a risk) if things are priced more reasonably, I hear it nearly every time from other customers when I am shopping at your store !
Plus, what skills are you teaching your employees and such ? Anyone can use a tagging gun and a sticker machine. If you require your employees to investigate and "shop" the new, new discount stores (like Marshalls), and low end stores (like brands they sell at Wall Mart, Fred Meyer, Target ect...), then they would be learning something. In your job description for a Production Supervisor, you state that "Essential qualifications and Competencies" include a "Working knowledge of retail accessories and household linens: familiarity with name brands, pricing resale value and thrift store customer needs", assuming this was a posting for production in housewares, not clothing, a Production Supervisor for the clothing department would need the same " familiarity with name brands, pricing, resale value and thrift store customer needs", but in fashion and clothing.
All in all, I believe your "gouging" prices are unnecessary (as I do not believe your operating costs have increased by 35%), I do not believe that you have given across the board raises to the "peon" workers. You have given some huge raises to your corporate pockets, your tax records reflect that. Yes, lowering your prices, would mean less in your pockets...BOOHOO...less cars for you to buy, less of a 5 bedroom house for a two person "family"....BOOHOO.
Thrift stores in general were designed for purposes of benefiting low income to lower middle class and helping those who need help, not the CEO's and other corporate workers pockets ! You and other stores of the like have forgotten the reason you started doing business in the first place. And now in a time where people are losing their houses, jobs and savings, your company raises prices and raises the corporate suits pay !
But, fret not, as I hear what other customers say about your store, your prices, and I have no shame in chiming in loudly with my opinion. I also happened to be at your store when the television news was doing a piece on your store and believe you me, I told them what I thought. They say that "thrift stores" revenues have increased 30% from last year...what they didn't say (and obviously didn't know) was that your REVENUE has increased because your PRICES have increased by about the same amount !! I let them know that factoid. I also am more than happy to post rants about you on Craigslist and Ripoffreport.com (you should look yourself up, you have more than one report).
Your company should be ashamed of yourselves for taking advantage of middle and lower middle class in a time where some are trying to get rid of middle and lower middle class ! Soon, just the high class and rich folks will be able to afford to shop at your "thrift store". Do you realize the economy is getting WORSE, not better ?
Eventually, I would love to get a bitter group of "thrift store" shoppers together and stage a boycott demonstration outside your stores, wearing barrels held up with suspenders and signs saying...."I am wearing a barrel because I cannot afford to shop here".
Lastly, you have some really mean and nasty employees at your Ballard store. The obese blond lady (who has worked there for quite awhile), is BEYOND RUDE....to EVERYONE she encounters...employees and customers. You can hear her complaining and insulting from a mile away. Fortunately, some of the other employees at that store, complain and talk in a foreign language, so you have no idea who they are talking about or complaining about. And why this store is the ONLY store I have been to in the Northwest who makes many announcements that it is "not OK to shop out of the blue totes and racks", if every time I waited until the item I wanted was put on the shelf, it would be broken and I would need to set up a cot to nap in while I waited. It is not a "safety" issue, like these employees say, as there are about one hundred other real safety issues going on inside your store, for example, the one of two front doors you lock at 7pm (see http://www.seattle.gov/fire/FMO/firecode/firecode.htm for the law on this), some sections in the store where merchandise is on the floor and spilling out into the aisles, shopping carts left carelessly abandoned by employees filled with merchandise waiting to be put back on shelves, rolling clothing racks blocking aisles openings. So, you see, you have REAL concerns you need to address before some of your control hungry employees announce to customers " NO SHOPPING OUT OF THE BLUE TOTES....WE CARE ABOUT YOUR SAFETY ".
I will be forwarding this letter to some local media outlets.
Well, those are my complaints. If you would like to discuss this further, feel free to contact me, I am more than willing to give you my opinion and input.
Cc: King 5 investigators, King 5 consumer stories, KOMO 4 problem solvers, Ken Schram, Yelp.com reviews, Craigslist.com, Ripoffreport.com, Seattle Times, BBB Washington State