Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Down is Up: Home Improvement Thrift Store Runs Countercyclical to Economy

Everyday in the news there are stories of non-profit organizations struggling with a decline in donations. The current housing crisis has impacted giving patterns to many charities forcing some to cut programs and lay-off staff. In the midst of this economic environment, thrift store faith ventures may provide one of the few refuges from a down-turn.

Over the last ten years, Bud's Warehouse has experienced some of its best sales results during times of economic troubles. In the months following 9/11, Bud's had a period of sales growth. We are seeing that same pattern occur right now in the midst of the housing crisis.

It seems that thrift stores provide a hedge against the economy because of their inherent countercyclical nature...especially thrift stores that specialize in home improvement. When individuals are feeling pinched economically, they are more likely to shop at a discount store. At Bud's, we've also seen a counter-intuitive rise in product donations. People are more likely to do home improvement work on their own home verses moving. They are quick to call us with donation of home improvement products they are replacing. Companies also seem to have more time to spend in their warehouses so more product is being donated. Together, it's the perfect environment for increased sales and one of the rare places for program growth.

The flip side is that when the economy is strong, Bud's has had times of flat or even declining sales growth. So in the home improvement thrift store business what is down is up and what is up can be down.

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