Though there haven’t been any issues for the last couple of days, the store manager at Owatonna's Salvation Army Family Store and Donation Center says unsolicited donations during the time the store was closed for the COVID-19 pandemic got out of hand.
“We were getting literally bags of garbage, mattresses, box springs, a dishwasher, two treadmills that are still out there now,” said Victoria Edwards, frustrated with the issues the dumping caused. “It’s not really the point that they drop things off when we’re closed that’s the problem, but it’s what they drop off and when. At the very least pay attention to the weather because if it gets rained on it goes straight to the dumpster.”
Every year, Edwards says that the store tends to see an issue with people dumping off donations that either cannot be accepted or are ruined by the elements while the donation center is closed. It can't accept items such as televisions, mattresses, and exercise equipment, but because they're dropped off the store, the organization ends up inheriting the responsibility for disposing the items.
“We have to get a truck that makes a trip out to the landfill or dump and we have to pay for it,” Edwards said, adding that the two treadmills will be disposed of this week. “That is $150 that we don’t have.”
Edwards said that the issue is an ongoing frustration and that she is worried about how the new store and donation times will impact the occurrence of the dumping. The store will reopen on June 3, but because of the limited space they have and the new restrictions fromSalvation Army headquarters, donation times will be limited to only two hours a day.
“With COVID-19, we have to quarantine everything for 72 hours before we can even work it,” Edwards explained. “We also had the Faribault store closed and had to take on a lot of their inventory, so we just don’t have the space to store and quarantine more donations.”
The new hours of operation for the store to be open for shoppers will be 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. beginning Wednesday, with donations being accepted from 10 a.m. to noon. Both schedules are set for Monday through Saturday.
“Please, just don’t dump anything,” Edwards said. “I don’t like to not take donations because that’s how we survive, but whenever we say we’re full and we can’t take anything, it’s because we are really full and really can’t store it.”
Edwards said that customers are also required to wear face masks while shopping, that they will be limited to 15 shoppers in the store at one time, and that there will be no fitting room or restroom access in the store.