The Value Village/Dollarama Conundrum

Our new place is not entirely furnished and having led our Gypsy way of life these past few years, we own very little in the household department.  In need of some of the basics, we made a trip to Guelph with our friend Riley to hit the Value Village, Thrift Store, Winners and some antique stores (“Shopping for yourself at this time of year?” you ask?  Yes, keep your eyes peeled for a post on how we’ve managed to completely avoid the gift frenzy of Christmas this year).

When we are shopping, our ethics and values bring us to look for things that are:

1) Previously loved

2) Made in North America

3) Of high quality – long lifespan still

4) Made of renewable resources (ie. wool, untreated wood, glass etc.)

5) Healthy to have in our home

6) Functional for me, design pretty for Dylan

7) Amazing, one-time-in-your-life finds

8 ) Ridiculous

9) Recylcable, repurposable, re-giftable or biodegradable

So, in that order we set out and I remembered that I had offered to find a client 12 sets of office pen holders second hand and under budget (a personal challenge for myself and a way to bring sustainability to even the smallest of purchasing decisions in a small organization).  On the hunt, I came across some small glass jars at Value Village that were good for the job and looked at the price – $1.99.  Not terrible and if I could find 12 for that price I’d be successful.  However, curious to see where they had originally come from, I peeled back the Value Village price sticker to reveal that they were initially a product of Dollarama and thus, brand new, these things had only sold for $1.  I was to pay a 100% markup for a second hand piece of glass from China.

Saying my thoughts out loud, I said to Riley that I may as well go across the street because there’s a Dollarama there.  Thank goodness I have some very mindful friends and she wisely pointed out that then I would be voting for making low-quality, cheap goods in China, whereas buying it here, I am not bringing new material into the world, it already exists.  But paying 100% more.  And, now we get into the fact that Value Village is a for-profit organization owned by U.S. parent company Savers Inc.  Check out the comments in this blog post for a response from Value Village to the myth that they are owned by Wal Mart and a discussion on whether or not they benefit non-profits and charities.

So, I put the jar back down and opted for the copper container stamped by a blacksmith in Canada for $1.99 as well.  Nonetheless, there’s something pretty off about this system.


2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Kat on December 7, 2010 at 8:30 pm

    oh i have always known/thought these things about value village but always forgot to ask you about it. goodwill and salvation army are probably the more ethical choices….but then again you will still find dollarama stuff there too. bah.


  2. I’m in Guelph! I would have loved to see you. How far away are you living if this is where you’re shopping for housewares? We now have a Goodwill on the North End, along woodlawn, and I think their ethics are a little bit less muddy than those of Value Village.


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