Toy Recalls Causing Headaches For Thrift Stores

It’s hard to tell what you need to take off the shelf when you buy your product by the pound and aren’t really sure what you’re getting. That’s the problem thrift stores are facing now that so many toys have been recalled.

Store manager Jeremy Lamb said recalls are nothing new to him and his employees. They regularly receive them from their Seattle-based corporate office and they’ll handle the Mattel recall like any other: The recalled toys will be pulled from the shelves and tossed in the trash compactor, he said.

“I think our company does a pretty good job of it,” he said.

Lamb received a detailed e-mail Tuesday with the list of Mattel toys to keep an eye out for. His employees will likely go through the inventory today. The e-mail also will be posted at an employee station close to where the toys are stocked.

Recalls like Mattel’s pose a unique problem for Value Village stores because they buy their stock by the pound from wholesalers, not knowing exactly what they’re buying, Lamb said. Then they sort through the products to decide which ones will go on shelves and which ones will be donated overseas, he said.

It’s good to know their checking, but wow—what a huge pain in the ass.

Toy recall prompts thrift stores to comb through inventories [Seattle Times]
(Photo:Bent and Marilynn)


Edit Your Comment

  1. freshwater says:

    If only Walmart et. al. would promote the same diligence.

  2. bohemian says:

    Maybe we can donate all the recalled toys, to be sent overseas, to China.

  3. d0x says:

    Target pulls them from the shelves and sends them back so they can get credit. You would assume smaller stores would do the same otherwise they are just losing money on a recall they had no control over.

    If you toss them in a dumpster how is the company going to be able to verify how many you had in your inventory? Knowing that companies dont just throw out money to everyone its also safe to assume unless you send them back you get no credit…of course Company X could always come and count them for you but what are the chances of that?

  4. Maurs says:

    I wonder if they get a tax write-off for trashing the toys?

  5. tedyc03 says:

    If they bought them by the pound you can bet that the items are not returnable to the distributor from which they came. In fact, many times the pallets that they purchased are the things you returned to Target because you didn’t want anymore.

    They’d certainly get a tax writeoff though for trashing them; they were product that was unusable and thus a loss of income, and would be tax deductible.

  6. theblackdog says:

    Meg, time for a grammar lesson:

    There – in or at that place (She went over there).

    Their – belonging to them (This is their car).

    They’re – Contraction of They Are (They’re very nice).

  7. Major-General says:

    @d0x: Having worked for “Company X”, stores like this don’t care about the exact cost for an item, just the number and a rough dollar amount. And the company you bought from won’t take them back when you buy things for a dime a pound (for example).

    So, pull them, count how many, and let corporate know so they can do the tax things.

  8. Omniboy says:

    Yeah, sure, that makes sense. Throw lead filled toys into the landfills. While we’re at it why don’t we all just dump gallons of paint down the drain just for kicks. Is this guy serious? He obviously doesn’t understand the issue. Lead is a toxic product that needs to be disposed of safely. ESPECIALLY in large quantities. And when you purchase by the pound, I think large quantities is a safe assumption.


  9. JayXJ says:


    Thrift stores also recieved a good portion of thier merchandise via donation bins. No real way to return them

  10. doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

    @bohemian: I see no problem with ‘donating’ them back to China.
    @Omniboy: Here again, send the lead back to China.
    Maybe if we would not have allowed wallymart to get us stuck so far up China’s ass, we would be in a better position to demand action about this, but you know all that will happen is bluster and talking heads ([]) telling us about our greatest friend.

  11. d0x says:

    @Major-General: I can understand that but again with no specific way to audit the inventory because they were trashed whats to stop them from lying and getting more money back…oh wait!

  12. SrtaMaestra says:

    From what I saw when I checked out the recall, you need to deal directly with the company to get either a replacement toy or a voucher for a replacement toy. That’s what the thrift store SHOULD be doing.
    What I’m worried about is the fact that there are toys out there that are virtually identical to the recalled toys, but that have not been recalled because they were not from the same supplier and therefore did not use the same paint. My kids own three sets of the Diego toys. The teeny tiny little model numbers on the bottom are the same as the recalled ones, but the numbers that are some kind of a date code or supplier code are different. So, when we’re done with them and want to get rid of them, will some thrift store trash them even though they’re perfectly safe? (At least until they broaden the recall and I find that these aren’t safe either).