10 Truths and 5 Lies About Thrift Store Volunteer Work

happy thrift store volunteer work


Imagine volunteering at a thrift store and getting the first crack at sorting through all those donations.  A treasure hunters’ Shangri-La!  Is thrift store volunteer work right for you?

Before taking the plunge, consider these truths and lies about thrift store volunteering.

Please note, these are generalizations, and each store has its own flavor

It makes you feel good – Truth

I could write a book about this, (and many have), so  I’ll just list feelings of belonging and accomplishment, self-awareness, and focusing beyond yourself/

It’s a great place for you to socialize – Truth

  • If you are scheduled to work with others
  • If you are in a position to interact with customers and donors

You can treasure hunt – Truth

Because you get the first peek at everything coming through the door!

It’s okay to work on whatever you want – Lie

Like any business, people are needed to do specific jobs at specific times, therefore you may have permanent job tasks, or be assigned whatever tasks are needed at the moment.  Your purpose is to do thrift store volunteer work.

You can buy everything really cheap – Lie

Some stores offer discounts to volunteers ranging from a percentage off everything, to none at all.  Because the purpose of the shop is to raise funds for charity, discounts shouldn’t be a priority to dedicated volunteers.

You don’t have to do much – Lie

While you may have fun socializing and “oohing” and “aahing” over merchandise, your reason for being there is to support the mission.  Those who aren’t working are usually in the way.

You’ll learn a great deal – Truth

You’ll be at ground zero learning how the business is run, pricing and marketing strategies, loss prevention, and gaining knowledge.  No two days are ever the same!

You just go in when you feel like it – Lie

It’s essential to have a schedule of who is working and when.  Because requirements vary, you could be scheduled for a permanent day of the week, or 4 or 8-hour shifts, or whatever the needs are of the store.

They couldn’t exist without volunteers – Truth

With few exceptions, volunteers are the backbone of a thrift store, because hiring enough staff to handle all the different tasks needed to be done would be way beyond a charity’s budget.

It’s Not for the sensitive – Truth

thrift store volunteer work for the sensitive

Both physical and emotional sensitivities:


  • Especially if you have dust allergies, this may not be the place for you.
  • Lifting is usually involved, so think twice if you have
    a bad back or other physical restrictions.
  • Don’t even think about it if you’re grossed out shoving your hand into a bag of soiled clothing, or even worse, the unknown.



You’ll get to personally help those in need – Lie

With social service agencies, while your efforts will directly impact those in need, you won’t likely interact with clients because of confidentiality issues.

Thrift Store Volunteer Work Looks Good On Applications – Truth

Putting thrift store volunteer work experience on a job or school application shows you’ve been doing something positive instead of sitting around.  It also shows you’ve been learning new skills, are open to new experiences, and care enough to give back to the community as a team player.  Getting a reference letter from a supervisor sure doesn’t hurt, either.

Volunteering can help you live longer – Truth

Studies have shown helping others is just as, if not more, important to your health as diet and exercise.

It’s a great way to give back to the community – Truth

We all take from our communities in some way, and it’s a win-win when we put in the effort to reciprocate.

It has a direct, positive effect on the chemicals in your brain – Truth

Read more at  Care2


Because every store is unique, you can get a feel for what the volunteer experience would be like by just hanging around the store for a while and chatting with volunteers.  As a rule, volunteers love to share their experiences.

Volunteer Opportunities

If you don’t have a store in mind, here are two sites where you can search for thrift stop volunteer opportunities by area:

Volunteer Match


Have more questions about thrift store volunteering?  Contact me any time!








One thought on “10 Truths and 5 Lies About Thrift Store Volunteer Work

  1. Gwen

    So very true!!! As both a volunteer and thrift store manager this hits the mark!

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