GLENWOOD SPRINGS — A popular thrift store in south Glenwood has become a little too popular as a community dumping ground for items that aren’t accepted as donations and end up costing the nonprofit entity hundreds of dollars a month in landfill fees.
The situation at the Community Thrift and Treasure store, located at 2518 S. Glen Ave., has also prompted calls from neighbors and others to city officials and Garfield County Public Health who are concerned about the amount of donations piling up behind the store.
“It’s been kind of a drag, and we have worked to clean up the mess,” said Kim Cabeceiras, executive director of the organization that runs the store. “The major concern is that people are treating us like we’re a dump.”
While the store works to donate or recycle items that it cannot re-sell in the store, certain items, such as mattresses, televisions, computer monitors and other electronics, and just general trash, are not accepted.
“It’s been an ongoing problem for six years,” Cabeceiras said of the store, which she started after having worked for the Defiance Community Thrift Store that occupied the same location until it moved down the street.
Signs are posted in several locations, both in front and off Blake Avenue in the back, clearly stating that TV’s, electronics and mattresses are not accepted.
The grounds are also monitored by surveillance cameras, and anyone caught dumping items illegally can be prosecuted, Cabeceiras said.
The store’s current policy of accepting donations 24/7 is a convenience to those who may not be able to drop off items during business hours. But that may have to change.
“We like to be the no-hassle donation site,” Cabeceiras said. “We get some excellent donations at night after we’ve closed.”
She said they’ve tried restricting the donation hours in the past, and have even put up fences.
“People just put things on the other side of the fence or figure out a way to get around it,” she said.
Cabeceiras said she spends anywhere from $200 to $1,000 a month to take electronics and other trash the store gets saddled with to the landfill.
“We’d rather that money go to the other community nonprofits and schools that we try to support,” she said.
Morgan Hill, environmental health specialist for Garfield County, said she has been working with the city of Glenwood Springs and Cabeceiras to deal with the large accumulation of donated materials, including increased truck pick-ups for items that are to be taken off the site.
Any electronics or hazardous waste that ends up in the hands of the store can be a public health hazard, Hill said.
“Cleaning products, paint cans, old televisions, and other materials contain compounds that can contaminate streams and rivers if they are improperly disposed of,” she said.
Such items should be taken to the landfill or to one of the hazardous waste collection days sponsored by the county and local municipalities, Hill said.
“Any large accumulation of materials such as couches and clothes can also provide habitat for unwanted pests,” she noted. “Donating any item at the store when it is closed does not allow for staff and volunteers to sort through acceptable materials.”
Hill also added that thrift and consignment stores are a valuable resource that allow people to recycle old items and re-sell them at a low cost to other residents.
“We want to keep them clean and functional and respect their operating procedures,” she said.
Glenwood Springs Police Chief Terry Wilson said that anyone caught illegally dumping items at a thrift store can be fined for littering, illegal use of a private dumpster or possibly trespassing.
The latter would only be a punishable offense if there were restricted donation hours, and especially if there were a fence or gate, Wilson said, adding that police and city officials have requested that a fence be built to screen the outdoor donation drop-off area.
“That’s really more the problem,” he said. “If you have a 24-hour facility and you’re not going to staff it, people will unfortunately take advantage of it.”
“It’s been kind of a drag, and we have worked to clean up the mess. The major concern is that people are treating us like we’re a dump.”
Executive director of the organization that runs Community Thrift and Treasure