Thrift store asks for help with landfill fees

WOODSTOCK – The Shenandoah County Thrift Store has become an involuntary Dumpster site for unwanted items such as clothes and old TV sets.

The store on North Main Street in Woodstock in turn spends thousands of dollars to take these items to the county landfill near Edinburg. William W. “Bill” Erbach Sr., pastor of Woodstock Christian Church Disciples of Christ, asked the Board of Supervisors on Thursday to consider giving the thrift store a break on fees it pays to dispose of items at the landfill that it can’t sell.

The thrift store has operated for 15 years with the last few seeing renewed success, Erbach said. However, the store has become a victim of its own success as a place for people to donate their goods, some of which the business cannot sell. The store then must dispose of these items and, as a business, cannot do so for free. The thrift store paid $2,600 in fiscal 2016 in tipping fees to dispose of items at the landfill at the commercial rate of $45 per ton.

The Department of Health also inspects the store and identifies items it cannot sell such as soiled clothing, Erbach said. Broken furniture and other items  can’t be sold but continue to accumulate.

Even though the store employees can screen donations during the day, people often leave items by the building after business hours, Erbach said. Then it takes time for workers to screen and sift through the pile of items.

The store sees an influx of items that households don’t want after the Route 11 Yard Crawl. The business took almost nine tons of goods it couldn’t sell and paid close to $400 to dispose of the refuse at the landfill after this year’s event, Erbach said. However, residents could have disposed of these items at the landfill for free, Erbach noted.

Erbach said he wasn’t asking for full relief from the landfill fees but suggested the county provide some help with the disposal cost.

Erbach also asked supervisors for some relief from the fees the county landfill charges to dispose of old TV sets. The thrift store recently amassed roughly 60 TV sets that would cost $5 to $10 or about $500. Erbach blamed the influx of TVs on the popularity of new versions and the fact that the landfill recently started charging to dispose of the older sets. Erbach asked for a one-time waiver of the fees.

In accordance with its mission, the thrift store contributed $6,000 to county volunteer organizations in fiscal 2016 and responded to requests from those groups and the Social Services Department by providing clothes, furniture and household goods valued at $7,000 during that period.

Supervisors acknowledged that the store faces a difficult situation. District 4 Supervisor Cindy Bailey pointed out that the county has a lot of thrift stores. Giving a break to one could spur requests from other stores, Chairman Conrad Helsley said.

By the end of the short meeting, the board had asked Director of Solid Waste Management Patrick Felling to look into how other localities handle similar situations. The landfill spends roughly $25,000 to dispose of old TV sets.