Recently I visited two local thrift stores in search of bargains on summer clothing. What I found were stores barren of thrift store shoppers. The owner of one store said that her store supports The Bridge Children Advocacy programs here in Amarillo. With each passing month, the owner said that she is finding it harder and harder to provide the level of support she has provided over the past several years. Her store is just one of many local thrift stores finding it harder and harder to support local nonprofit organizations.
So what is happening to dampen thrift store shopping here in Amarillo–in a word–the economy. As you have probably already noticed, food prices are going up, as is the price of gas—heading to $3 or more a gallon by summer. Take home pay for most of the nation’s working class has not kept pace with inflation. The recent tax bill that was touted for its “trickle down” promises have not materialized—except for the very rich for whom the bill was a pay off. America’s richest people are awash in money for years to come. Meanwhile the big tax cuts to corporations did not result in higher paychecks for anyone except top tier management that received extravagant bonuses. The so called “promises kept” have been little more than another con job on America’s working stiffs.
In the meantime, the policies of the current administration that is throwing billions at the military is tightening the noose on every conceivable social safety net program, including programs for the most needy and vulnerable. Now we hear that Ben Carson is proposing doubling and sometime tripling what families must pay out of pocket for HUD assistance. Those on food stamps are also being targeted with cuts to make up for the tax cuts to the rich with a “blue apron” commodities program of canned meat and old bread. On top of this, serious consideration is being given to making those on food stamps meet certain work requirements. A full half of those in the military are on food stamps. I wonder if the current administration is aware of this fact. So what, no skin the noses of the richest presidential cabinet in American history—get rid of the “deep state,” including right here in Amarillo where a full one third or more of Amarillo’s single family homes are rentals—many using the HUD program to insure that landlords get higher rentals than without the program.
So what will happen as more and more thrift stores close their doors? Many individuals in Amarillo satisfy certain community service requirements by volunteering at thrift stores. What will happen to these individuals? When thrift stores are struggling you can bet that all other for-profit stores are also feeling the impact of a worsening economy. When individuals do not shop there is a “knock-on” effect throughout the economy. The knock-on includes lay-offs, and with lay-offs, individual households must somehow manage on much less. The eventual impact will be felt throughout the community, leaving the bulk of support for community help programs to agencies such as United Way–which is also tightening its belt.
By all means whenever possible support your local thrift stores. They provide a much needed source of support to the many organizations around Amarillo that help the needy.
Copyright 2017 – L. Arthalia Cravin. All rights Reserved. No part of this commentary may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without written permission from the author.