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Donate, Shop, Reuse, and Upcycle at The Depot Outlet

Posted: Sun, Sep 10, 2017 12:29 PM
The after hours donation room is continually full of new donations

Anyone who has cleaned out a drawer or decluttered a closet, knows that good feeling you get from completing the chore. Simplifying your life, organizing belongings or even becoming a minimalist are all terms we hear often.

When we declutter and take our donations to local thrift stores, we aren't the only ones who benefit. The Depot Outlet operates on donations of books, clothing, household items, and furniture.

Clothing donations that are sellable--no holes, rips, or stains, and are in current fashion get sorted through to be resold in the store. Anything else is recycled and taken to Winneshiek County Recycling. Either way, The Depot Outlet benefits from all donated items. Items to be recycled are gathered into 850 lb bales, then taken to the Winneshiek County Recycling. They usually make four trips a week to the recycling center.

Store director Amanda Gallagher commented, "Donations are usually weather based. If it is nice outside, people tend to be outside doing things. If it's gloomy, they may be indoors, sorting through closets." City wide garage sales bring much more inventory. People tend to load up whatever didn't sell and donate the items to local thrift stores. The donations from the city wide garage sales will be worked on throughout the fall.

On any given day, there is a line of customers waiting for the store to open at 9:00 a.m. During busy times there are easily 50-60 shoppers per hour, and they make an average of 500 sales each day.

Gallagher says one of the most unusual items donated was a quarter panel for a car. She sold it in the store. "I'll try to sell anything," Gallagher laughingly remarked.

Non-profit organizations in Winneshiek County benefit directly from donations. This year donations have raised $85,000 to be given to non-profit organizations in Winneshiek County. $10,000-$12,000 is dispersed per month from requests the Depot receives.

Click here to see where the money has been given back this year:

The Depot also gives store vouchers to families in need. Families receive $50 vouchers for any needed items in their store, while individuals received $20 vouchers. The Dollar Program is another way the Depot Outlet gives back. $450 a month is given through $1 off taxi rides with Hometown Taxi for individuals with disabilities.

Gallagher says they currently have 21 employees and 20 volunteers who volunteer 325 hours a month. Volunteer Barbara Grant donates 5-6 hours a week, in 30 minutes or one hour shifts. Employees and volunteers are kept busy sorting through the many donations the Depot receives and getting the items tagged, ready to sell and placed on the shelves in the store.

This week a much needed new parking lot is being replaced for The Depot Outlet and other businesses who share the lot. Customers will need to park in the back parking lot or the north side until it is completed.

The Depot's biggest need coming into colder weather is for snow pants and boots, as those items are always in demand in the winter months. The next time you go through a closet, considering donating to The Depot Outlet, and in turn give back to our community.

L to R: Employees Brittany Hanson, Keri Caceres, and Pam Sanderson sort through donations
Volunteer Barbara Grant is ready to put out merchandise for resale
The boardroom was recently converted to a room to display larger pieces of furniture
There are several fall decorations on display for purchase