- Business and Employment»
- Small Businesses & Entrepreneurs
An Open Letter To Savers Thrift Store
Never does it cease to amaze me, how big million dollar corporations think that they can just trash their hourly employees and get away with it. In my past five years in the bail bonds business, and now this past year in the thrift industry, I have watched companies just throw employee rights out of the windows for the good of the companies bottom line. One such company that I had the misfortune to work for was Savers Thrift Stores aka Value Village. How did I end up at this company? Well, in California there are quite a few Savers thrift stores, and I had started shopping at them years ago for baby clothing and adult clothing. Savers is known for their “bag wall”, where they will bag multiple items in a categorized bag and price it dirt cheap, sort of like a prize bag.
I would buy the toy price bags for my children and for the price I couldn’t beat the deal. Upon moving to the south and leaving the Bail Bonds business I was driving down rogers avenue in Fort Smith, Arkansas and I happened to go into Savers thrift store. I was surprised to see one out this far and upon shopping they announced on the intercom that they were hiring. Me not needing a high paying job at the moment decided to apply, and I was hired on the spot the very next day. Now up to this point I was very impressed with Savers, and the management seemed great, I actually got offered more then minimum wage, and the company had great benefits.
I saw this as a career opportunity, somewhere that I could work at for a very long time and advance my way up the food chain. Savers has a huge reach, with 315 stores world wide, and employees can transfer to any of these stores. So lets say you wanted to move to Arizona, there is a good chance you will be able to transfer and keep your job. What I didn’t know I was in for came later on, and the poor management training and employee practices started to come out. The very first thing that I noticed about my first month in was a very high turnover rate, employees and management were quitting left and right. Other employees attributed this to favoritism, and at first I gave this the benefit of a doubt but as time went on I quickly saw what they meant.
You see, Savers has two sides to their store, there is the friendly front side where the cashiers work, and then there is the sweat shop production room where all of the donated items are processed, thousands of pounds in a day to be exact. I asked to be transferred to the back room because the schedule is great, or so they promise. 7Am – 3pm with weekends off, this is a win – win right? Wrong, there was not a single day except for a few that I did not leave work before 5pm. This was due to horrible employee turn over, bad management decisions, and impossible goals set for a way overworked short staff.
There were more then a few occasions where I would see employees leaving in tears from the stress, a thrift store job no less! I had a less stressful time doing million dollar bail bonds then I did working in this back room. The management would hire a few people and they would quit two days later, then the management proceeded to fire most of their better employees for infractions that did not make any sense. I remember one of my first write ups was because I threw some miniature children's toys away, because they were caked with dirt. I did this having two toddlers of my own, knowing that my sons will put anything in their mouth so why would I even try to clean these. The write up was a joke, and it really gave me insight on just how desperate this company is to sell anything and make a profit.
But it just kept getting even more fun, my second write up was a performance write up. The reason I got this was was for not pumping out fifteen hundred pieces a day, now how do we get these pieces you ask? Well, we have two sorters who are responsible to sort through carts that are full of donated goods, and in typical savers fashion these carts are poorly stacked and usually spill out. We are expected to do four thousand pounds a day, and if that isn’t enough we were still expected to do this while being short staffed because employees would either call in sick or just quit.
These goals were not only ridiculous, but they were damn near impossible. I hit these goals, week after week and then I surpassed them my final week before I quit just to prove a point. My second write up was even more ridiculous, and by the third write up I knew that the management was ill-trained and it was time for me to make a career somewhere else. I remember my first month in, I had five years of management experience running California’s largest bail offices, I cleared over a million in liability a week, and Savers hired some random kid with no management experience to be a front end supervisor. Savers says that they invest in employees and they promote within but they don’t.
In fact on May 21st 2015 Savers thrift store was sued by the Minnesota attorney general for misleading consumers about where their “donation” money actually goes. We really need to open our eyes to this horrible company, and work to change the way that they treat their employees. I will not ever shop in this store again, and I am glad that I decided to leave. I learned a long time ago, that I always want to have the choice in where I go with my career, I am not going to let a company fire me, I will leave on my own terms.
Savers has impacted a lot of lives in a negative way, just in the year that I worked at their location in Fort Smith, AR. I shutter to think what the bigger Savers stores are operated like, and just how bad employees are being treated their. I have written a letter to the CEO and contacted him on his Linked IN account, and I will be working to see if I can change how this company is operated. Savers could be a wonderful concept, but with employee treatment like this, this company will never be more then a machine and a joke to anyone who actually wants to build a career.