The Bishop and the Butterfly: Murder, Politics, and the End of the Jazz Age
    Ramona's picture

    Goodwill Misses the Meaning of Good Will


    When 19-year-old Andrew Anderson started working at the Goodwill store in East Naples, Florida, he thought his job was pretty cool. He was working in a place where poor and low-income people came to buy the things they couldn't afford anywhere else.  

    "It makes you feel amazing," he said, "makes you feel you can actually be the person to help them."  

    Andrew worked at Goodwill for three weeks and from his place behind the counter he saw people come on bicycles with, as he said, "wearing all the clothes they had, with two, three dollars, max."  It was his job to collect the money for the goods they purchased.  When he saw the poorest of the poor coming through his line he began discounting whatever the item cost. He loved the smiles he got from the folks who saw their bills cut in half.  He thought nothing of it and didn't really want thanks.  He saw it as paying it forward.

    His bosses saw it another way.  They fired him for stealing from the company, even though he never took a thing for himself and later offered to make up the difference himself.  They weren't amused.  They had him arrested.

    "I wasn't actually stealing. Goodwill is a giving and helping company, so I took it upon to myself to be giving and helping because I feel people deserve it," Anderson said.
    But the teenager quickly went from paying it forward to the Collier County jail.
    "My heart just dropped into my stomach," Anderson said.
    Store officials fired Anderson and reported the incident to deputies. They arrested him Tuesday and charged him with grand theft.
    The statute for grand theft reads, "Theft -- Appropriate the property to his or her own use or to the use of any person not entitled to the use of the property." - Per Collier County Sheriff's Office
    Anderson says he never knew giving discounts was wrong or even illegal.
    "The intent I had was to help people, just like Goodwill says, we help people," Anderson said.
     Well, up to a point, Andrew, and only on their terms:
    "Our stores are not around to give a hand out, they're around to give people a hand up by providing funding, said Kirstin O'Donnell, a spokesperson for Goodwill Retail and Donation Center in East Naples.
    "In incidents like this, we always prosecute and the reason why is when people steal from Goodwill, they're not stealing from the company, they're stealing from the mission of our organization."
    Well, sure, Andrew shouldn't have taken it upon himself to give discounts at the thrift store, but couldn't his bosses have just taken him aside and told him that?  Did they really have to fire him?  Who wouldn't want such a good kid working for them?
    And really? They had him arrested??  
    I'm trying to picture the scene at the station house, when poor Andrew is hauled in there and made to admit he did what he did.  I'm seeing a "Barney Miller" segment, where Wojo is doing the grilling.  Andrew tells his story and even before he's finished Wojo is wiping away the tears.  Uh oh..  Wojo barricades himself and Andrew in Barney's office, and we know there is no way this kid is going to jail.  
    I'm waiting for Goodwill to do a mea culpa.  We were wrong, people!  While we don't condone what Andrew did, we did a poor job of explaining how this thing works.  It was an honest mistake!  Come back!  We're good people!  We're Goodwill!
    Andrew says now, "My heart was in the right place, my head was in the wrong place."
    Your head and your heart are just fine, Andrew.  And I predict once Wojo springs you and this is over, there will be employers waiting in line, begging you to come to work for them.   Everyone should be so lucky.
    A Goodwill store in Naples, Fla., reversed course today and decided to drop grand theft charges against a teen employee who had given discounts to poor customers.
    The decision came four days after the store had fired Andrew Anderson, 19, and had him arrested for granting discounts that totaled $4,000. As recently as today, the store defended its actions saying the money could have been better used on Goodwill’s other charitable projects.

    Really, Goodwill?  That $4,000 could have been better used on Goodwill's other charitable projects?  Do you know how much the big guys upstairs make?

    No?  Well, let's just look:

    [Goodwill International CEO Jim] Gibbons' salary and deferred compensation amounted to $729,000 in 2011, the CEO of Goodwill Industries of Southern California got $1.1 million and the Portland, Oregon top executive received more than $500,000, NBC reported.
    And don't think I didn't notice in that same article that Goodwill had to 'fess up to paying a disabled worker 3 cents an hour in 2008--all legal, of course.

    But Hooray for Andrew Anderson.  That's what good will looks like.
    (Cross-posted at Ramona's Voices)


    You don't want to get arrested in Collier County and go to their jail.  They have a reputation from hell. Naples is the only town in SW Florida that has not started to trend blue.  I wish all of you could see all the homeless that we have down here.  They sleep in the woods year around.  There isn't a month that goes by that you don't read in the news that a homeless camp was raided and everyone was forced to leave a town or county or be arrested.  The homeless population has really grown in the recent years.  I don't shop much at Goodwill anymore because their prices are too high.  I only go in there to collect vintage cook books or baking molds.  Most of the time I walk out empty handed. 

    What a sad place.  It must be devastating for those poor people.  I remember poverty pockets in the south in the 1960s that were unbelievable, considering we supposedly lived in a civilized country.  How terrible that they still exist.  And the way we're going, they'll only get worse.

    As a close relative of a disabled person who has a job at Goodwill, I wish people would just lay off the "investigation" of what they pay. They are expert at paying disabled people just enough and giving them just enough hours, but no more, so that they don't trigger the worker being cut off of government benefits. Ask any social worker, Goodwill is a great place to get some work activity for disabled people who would not really last long in any real work environment and still need various government benefits to survive. People who if they worked anywhere else would endanger necesssary benefits that basically keep them alive. It is not required for anyone to work at Goodwill, it is something that relatives and other caretakers of disabled people like because it gives people that would otherwise be sitting at home some dignity and self-confidence. Among a crew of people of equivalent competence where the disabled person isn't continuously looked down upon as the least competent person in the place, with whom they can also have social interaction.

    The only dangerous thing is when Goodwill decides that you are "too able" a worker and tries to move you into a welfare-to-work government program where you can "earn more money". Then if you are fired for not having the brains to compete in that probably minimum wage job, or because your cerebral palsy or whatever your handicap requires too many days off, you have still been branded "employable" in the real, non-Goodwill world and by the government, and you are screwed.

    If you want to blame someone about what they pay, look at the laws that set the limits on how much work you can do and how much money you can earn before various government benefits are cut off. Adjust upward and I have every belief from what I have seen that Goodwill would also do so, almost to the penny.

    I understand that, aa, I have a cousin who works in a sheltered workshop and is on SSI. They do work at keeping her busy without getting her into an income level that would affect her Social Security.   But really--three cents an hour?  That's an insult. Unless they're working around the clock without a day off, I can't see how they'll get into trouble with SSI.  Why pay them at all?  Just call them volunteers.

    The CEO pay grinds me, too, considering how little they pay their workers.  But the real story is what they did to this poor kid who was idealistic enough to think he was actually paying it forward by helping people he thought needed it.  I'm glad they rethought the jail time but if they really wanted to help him they would have worked with him in other ways.


    from your link, one person, one special circumstance:

    Goodwill Industries International spokesperson Lauren Lawson, said, "The low wages you have referenced are extraordinary situations. For example, sometimes an employee will work for a few minutes but then stop producing for the rest of the shift because of an emotional or behavioral issue. Unlike a typical employer, Goodwill does not dismiss an employee in such situations."

    "The organization's work program is meant to provide the most significantly disabled individuals in our community with work that will either lead to competitive employment; or for those where this may not be possible, to enjoy the many personal, social and economic benefits of working," said Dan Buron, executive director of Goodwill Industries of Southeastern Michigan, which, in 2010, paid a worker 6 cents per hour.

    Plus every state is different as to what pay and what income affects government benefits and even disability. The rules are often byzantine, if a caretaker would try to figure this out themselves, how much a person could work, how much they could earn, they would throw up their hands and give up. I personally know more than one social worker who trusts Goodwill more than their own capibility to do it right. Plus legislators are always changing the rules! And Goodwill stays on top of it.
    As to C.E.O. pay, that's a totally different issue. There are reams written on the issue of non-profits trying to compete with profit organizations on salary for talent rather than someone mediocre. Look at not only charities, but universities, museums, etc. Often enough where's there's comparatively low pay in non-profit leadership, there's fraud, theft, no-show jobs for friends and relatives.

    Overall, I would just like to say that Goodwill is a good organization and I recommend it. I regularly donate to the shops and I buy there as well, including when I am traveling.

    Working there three days a week (not at a store, but a plant) has transformed my relative's life. He looks forward to it so much. He especially treasures the little work parties they have for various holiday themes, which seem to be often. From what he says, they do not work very hard and everyone is given lotsa mulligans for not performing perfectly.

    I do not think that the story of one kid roughly fired and prosecuted is enough to start bashing it.

    It is large national organization and there is a lot of autonomy in running individual outlets. It is not like a for-profit corporation with standard rules for every single step.  And the people running them, especially the shops, are not rocket scientists. As for the stores, at one there might be pricing too high, at another pricing is too low. There is great turnover in pricers.  One time they have all the shoes at the same price, a few months later, you will see that someone who knows something about quality is doing it. Some decide silly things like sorting clothes by color, that's just the way it is. It might be because the disabled stockers at that particlular store can only handle that. You are not dealing with merchandizing experts. Some have volunteer experts come in and check for underpricing of collectibles, others don't, and the latter are the ones that ebay'ers love.

    I'm not bashing the whole idea of Goodwill stores.  There is obviously a value in them, but when something is wrong, it's wrong, no matter where it happens.  

    That needs to be recognized along with the good they may do.  If there is exploitation or the kind of meanness that went along with having someone like Andrew Anderson arrested, I see nothing wrong with exploring it.

    I'm apparently not the only one who finds the CEO salaries "interesting".  I wasn't looking for them but I found them in the same article you cite above.  Again, I have no problem with making it public.  It's all a part of who and what they are.  They're supposed to be there for their workers and I'm glad your family member is doing well there.  I don't expect it'll be perfect for everyone but this story got to me.  That poor guy thought he was doing something good; something to make Goodwill proud, and it backfired in such a painful way.  That's a story.


    I want to add that many of the Goodwill's here are run like boutiques.  I think they do it because of the retirees and tourists. I liked it better before and bought more from them before they priced up for that market.  The items that are not boutique quality are sold at Goodwill bargain barn.  They just throw the stuff in large bins that are like dumpsters that you have to dumpster dive into.  I go there to find old baking molds and cookbooks.  They have little resale value but I enjoy using them.  The clothing you buy by the pound.  Everything is mixed together except the books.  I wear gloves sometimes if there is broken glass. There are no dressing rooms, so if you wants cloths you need a measuring tape with you.  This is where the poor goes to shop.  I don't know if Naples has the same set up or have traditional thrift store.  All part of the new normal. 

    That's interesting. I haven't seen one of those "bargain barns." What you describe sounds very tailored to Florida. Lots of "pickers" have long made regular rounds there because of all the retirees, and the estate donations that follow their deaths, to look for items for resale. So the boutique type stores would cater to them, too. But I haven't been in Florida lately.

    In more than one out-of-town recent trip, though (So. Carolina is one place I remember,) I have noticed that they have what they call a "Salvage Center", different from the stores. They have any really big stuff, the basic inexpensive furniture and the electronics, appliances, bigger tools, the strollers and walkers and crutches, etc., large junk pictures, and big bins of books unsorted (ready to go to the dump next, I guess?), but no clothing and no decorative or kitchen smalls.

    What I have noticed which seems to be general policy across the country is that the clothing at Goodwill is obviously no longer like they offer everything they get. You don't see the stuff with stains or rips or pilling like you used to, it is mostly things in good condition.

    In southern Michigan there are several "upscale" Goodwills (that's what they call them) but I haven't seen the Bargain Barns, either.  We've been to several Habitat for Humanity stores and they're usually nice and clean with decent prices.

    I have a hard time passing up thrift stores anywhere.  If nothing else, there are always lots of books.

    Oh another thing. There ARE all kinds of multi-store multi-state thrift shop organizations that have popped up since the recession that I think DO most definitely deserve more investigation and perhaps bashing, too. Not the long term proven organizations like Goodwill and Salvation Army.

    What is the deal, for example with Unique Thrift Shops:

    The Unique Thrift Store purchases donated goods from nonprofit organizations resells items to the community.

    Well guess what, they are a for-profit!

    So they are in the business of putting old style charity thrift shops, like those that Goodwill and Salvation Army run, out of business.

    And I don't know about any other stores, but at the one close to my home, the employees look very overworked and very unhappy. But there are complaints about them on the internet if you look

    Then there are the collection boxes that keep popping up everywhere that make it look like they are for charity, but if you check out the little print, they are not.

    More at Charities Review Council: Not Every Thrift Store is a Nonprofit,

    Wow, thanks for sharing that. 

    I would much prefer to buy at the non-profits and they usually fit my pocketbook better, anyway.  I've been to many thrifts that pretend they're non-profit--including those claiming to be attached to churches or missions--but it's pretty obvious they're not.

    In and near Detroit we have Value Worlds that buy from Purple Heart, a non-profit service-related organization that will pick up donations right from the house.  I really don't know if Value World is for-profit or non.  They're prices are decent and their stores are clean, with color-coordinated clothing racks, but most have a disinterested or unfriendly staff.

    In Michigan and in South Carolina we root out the Habitat for Humanity stores, as well as the Goodwill and Salvation Army.  The Myrtle Beach Goodwill is quite expensive, but nothing like the Salvation Army that is near Pawley's Island and Litchfield--upscale beach towns.  That SA is ridiculous.  Lots of people wandering around with very few buying.  But the MB Habitat store is staffed with some terrific people who obviously enjoy working there. 

    I would rather buy from the non-profits for obvious reasons, but I'm not averse to wandering around the others.  I'm kind of a nut for thrift stores, and when I need to unload my still-good things that's where they go.  Either to Goodwill, the SA or our little food bank thrift where everything is pay-what-you-want.


    You've probably noticed, too, that antiques and vintage goods are hard to find at Goodwill.  They have online stores where most if not all of that stuff goes now.

    There is no doubt that Goodwill can be a good work environment for the disabled, but there are many companies that do the same, using the same government criteria for work/pay.  In Michigan someone on SSI loses a dollar for every two dollars earned up to a certain limit. 

    Three cents an hour in this case and six cents an hour in the Michigan case makes no sense to me.  The fact that there is a specific mention of a 2010 case where a worker was paid six cents an hour tells me that's not the norm.  I don't know what is, but I can't imagine many people who would think that paltry amount makes those workers feel as though they're doing something worthwhile.  As I said, they could feel the same way as volunteers, which is basically what they are.

    Goodwill gets donations of items for free, then retails them and charges enough to spend millions of executives? Only in America could you call that goodwill.

    Ooooooooooh Jeeeeez

    Break my frickin heart

    Just remember that these are isolated incidents.

    We have Goodwill here.

    Hell, a couple of years ago I paid 12 bucks for an Eskimo parka.

    It is my pride and joy during our four month winter!

    12 bucks and I shall be warm for decades!

    I have wandered into this local store on the old Main Street and given my choices to the clerk only to find out that it was Senior's Day. Instead of ten bucks they took four.

    Salvation Army and Goodwill have 'stores' on the old Main Street.

    We need Target for underwear, but damn!

    When one compares 'inside info' with the sins of charitable organizations...oh that is all I got.

    Didn't mean to break your heart.  This story was really shocking, considering who we're talking about here.  Obviously, not all stores do these things but when they do I don't think they should be immune from criticism.

    So, it's okay to steal from people as long as you give it away to someone else? How clueless.

    I worked on a series of projects for non-profit orgs, including this one, and I noticed that the bosses seemed exceptionally well-dressed - gold stickpins in their ties, etc. - and drove very fancy cars compared to our other client contacts. I chalked that up more to them having to rub elbows with truly rich folk that might donate large sums than being exceptionally well paid. But who knows?  

    Although in this case the fellow seemed to be overly generous rather than felonious, I know my bosses would not be very understanding if I didn't charge my time to projects that I thought deserved a break. My billable time includes a lot of markup for office overhead.

    In essence he was donating the organization's money to certain of the poor without it's direction or knowledge. That their mission is to help the poor adds a touch of irony, but it is understandable that they would want control over how and to whom their funds are donated. I wouldn't want to find out that my bank had given my money to some charity without asking me first.

    That said, their response was over the top.

    There's no question that Andrew did the wrong thing.  But yes, their response was over the top.  They could have handled it internally and if the decision was to fire him over it, so be it.  But they actually called the police, even after he apologized and made it clear he really didn't understand that what he had done was wrong, and now he has a mug shot and an arrest record.

    I'm not sure their mission is as much to help the poor as it it to give employment to disabled people.  I haven't read anything about whether or not Andrew is disabled, but as Momoe says, that area is full of homeless people so I can see how someone with a large heart and no real experience would want to do whatever it took to help them.  But what surprised me was how shocked he was that somebody thought he did wrong.  That should have sent up red flags to those who caught him and talked to him about it.  He obviously didn't need to be taken to jail.

    I designed a Goodwill residence for "troubled" teens in the 80s, but they seem to have narrowed their mission since then. 

     A Goodwill residence?  I didn't know there were such things.  Did the kids work at Goodwill Enterprises?

    No, they went to school. I gather they had a variety of issues. I only met one of them, and she was a pretty saucy little number - flirting with the construction superintendent. This was quite a while ago.

    Back in my hippie days I visited an equalitarian commune in Virginia. 80 people living on 400 acres, the land owned jointly with each member getting the same amount of spending money each month. Their major source of income was making and selling hammocks.

    I talked to one member who had business experience before joining the commune. She explained how she used to go to New York and other major cities to get large hammock contracts to supply chains like Macy's or JC Penny's. But there were constant complaints about the fancy dresses she felt she had to have to meet the buyers. And when she returned complaints about high restaurant bills she picked up.  Other members were upset that she was going to the big city, eating in fancy restaurants and buying lobster for the buyers she contacted.

    Her take on the issue was that she couldn't meet these buyers in the thrift shop clothes the rest of the commune wore and she couldn't make the sale if she didn't take them out to a high class restaurant. That's just how the business world worked and she couldn't change that.

    So she finally decided to no longer work as a sales person for the commune's hammocks. She said she'd rather work on the commune's farm and gardens than deal with all those complaints. And a significant portion of the commune's cash flow was lost.


    Ramona, when I  was actively scouting books around S. California I spent a great deal of time in these kind of shops, including Salvation Army and other thrift shops including one which was quite upscale. I think the folks over-reacted in the arrest, but they did have a right to enforce rules.

    Of the two shops I frequented most, both had management problems. I got to know the workers well because, uh, they sometimes led me to the best books---was that wrong? Maybe so. But I was told on several occasions that every Saturday at the S.A., the Commander's wife would back her car into the building and she would sort through all the jewelry and electronics and fill up her vechicle. None of those items ever made it to the floor and if someone wants to believe they were sold on-line, why was it done off site when they had a ton of officer and warehouse space.

    At the upscale store, a thin blond lady who was married to a Doctor and drove a Land Rover ran the book operation. Funny thing, I could never find an overlooked prize in there, nothing worth more than a few dollars, and I kept wondering where all the good books were so I razzed her a couple of times about it and got an extremely cold response like, "everything's here, first come first served"---which turned out to be true because on several occasions I saw her car at a dealer I knew well and I asked him if she came in there. "Yeah, he said, she brings in some really good books".

    The points you raise are interesting because of the ethics issues raised. It also raises issue that the type of charity that is running a charity thrift shop is something of import on the ethics.

    Everyone needs to keep in mind that charity thrift shops purpose is to take the donated goods and convert them into cash for the charity.

    Most of them are not there to offer cheap goods to the poor! That's not their purpose. (That's actually more like what some of the for-profit thrift shops are trying to do, market to mostly the poor, like Dollar Stores do.) They are there to maximize cash value of donations as a whole. That's another thing that bothered me about Ramona's main argument about "missing the meaning of good will" and Andrew Anderson Robin-Hood gifting the poorer customers with discounts.

    But how to do that, that's where it gets tricky. This is where they have to use marketing and hard headed business thinking. If your prices are deemed too high by your market, you lose customers and sales. You become a thrift store that it is no longer popular to regularly visit. This cuts down on the incoming cash, because when people stop, they drop dollars. Those donated goods sitting there do you no good, cost money for overhead.

    But perhaps you don't want a mass market, you just want to make money on boutique items, i.e., rare books, designer clothing, collectibles. You have a higher class of donor, and you don't need to be in the work of converting used strollers to cash. Maybe you raise enough cash on those relatively few donated items that it would take thousands of regular junk sales to make, and it's worth your while to do that and just take all the junk clothes and whatnot and sell them to a rag dealer. Lower overhead, the charity benefits.

    On the other hand, if you are Goodwill, you also use your stores to accomplish your charity goal of giving handicapped people and parolees etc. jobs and job training in working for the actual stores themselves! So the overhead is actually not overhead at all, but doing what your main mission is. So maximizing the cash received from the goods donations is not their only goal. Now, a boutique shop with higher prices doesn't necessarily mean they are abandoning their job training goals in preference for maximizing returns on donations. Maybe they want to have those kind of shops to be able to train some people in that kind of work, and other kinds of mass-market shops to train in different work for others.

    Now on to your book lady. How do you know she was selling the better skimmed books to the book dealer for her own profit and not for the charity? If the former, she probably figures, she's there all the time helping out and pricing, and you're not? I can see her saying: you got issues with that? Come once a week and donate some time sorting and pricing and we'll deal with what to do with the better books together. If she was selling the better books to the dealer for the charity, on the other hand, it would be a way to maximize cash and not have those books sitting there until some collector or dealer willing to pay wholesale came by.

    And if she was pocketing it, are you any better? Why should you get the benefit of a rare book priced too low? When the donor no doubt hoped that the charity would get the best price possible for the item? Then go back to Andrew Anderson. Why is it his place to decide who should get the bargains of less than fair market value of donated property?

    All of us thrift shop and rummage sale shoppers, including the poorest ones, have to admit that we are looking to get something for nothing. That's part of this game. The sellers are also playing a game. The smart ones know that. The smart ones will not price too accurately, lest the customers stop coming, but not so inaccurately that they are throwing away the value of the donations. The ones that don't want to play the game might just take the goods and sell the donations in bulk to the for-profit thrift shops to do the game work for them.

    So back to Goodwill, and Salvation Army, I believe, having as part of their mission being job training in the actual stores, and also the value of recycling and repairing goods in their history, actually come out of this smelling the most like a rose here. More than a lot of us customers. And more than Andrew Anderson who thinks he knows best how the charity should be run.

    I'm 95 % sure she never gave the cash to the charity---the dealer gave me that strong impression but would not have said so directly because he wouldn't know my reaction.and if he told me and I told the charity, he would lose a good source. I also scouted for antiques there, better controlled, and wouldn't have wanted to involve myself in a general flap. (I left a pair of near mint Alvar Aalto bent wood chairs sitting there one day, and fifteen minutes later when I regained my senses and drove back, they were gone. I could have kicked myself.)

    If her's was a program to speed up cash flow and cash went back to the charity, I wouldn't like it, but I wouldn't have a legitimate gripe. In any case I was collecting books but not reselling them whereas the dealer was buying from scouts and marking them up at least 50%. The store  (not the lady)would most likely have made more profit from me than from the dealer.

    BTW, all the books which I bought were already on the floor and price marked.

    In any case, are you saying it's fair game for someone who donates time to a charity to skim and sell the item for their own profit?

    I'd be willing to bet the woman wasn't taking the books to the dealer in order to give back to the charity, either.  I was in a SA one time when a customer came in and was immediately taken to the back room by a staff member.  I heard her say something like, "Wait until you see what came in today.  I thought of you right away."  So it happens.

    But I have to disagree with your last point.  No way Goodwill comes out smelling like a rose after what they did to Andrew Anderson.  I really doubt Anderson thought he knew best how a charity should be run.  I doubt he was thinking at all.  He was acting strictly on instinct with a double dose of compassion thrown in and it was only later, when it was pointed out to him that giving discounts wasn't the way Goodwill did business, that the full impact of his "crimes" hit home.  Then he felt terrible and wanted to fix it.

    Goodwill hires the handicapped to staff their stores.  What's to say that Andrew Anderson doesn't have a handicap that keeps him from figuring these things out?  Because most people would know not to give discounts without permission from their bosses, even in the poorest of neighborhoods.

    The management at these stores deal with the handicapped all the time, but at this particular Goodwill store they jumped the gun and called the police, knowing all along that it wasn't actual theft they were dealing with, but simply a case of giving discounts without permission.  That was dumb and not at all fair to that kid.  Which is the main point of the piece I wrote above.

    Back in the hippie days of the 1960's, the Diggers in San Francisco opened a Free Store. This was stocked by donations, but unlike a charity shop, everything inside was free. You just walked in and took what you wanted.

    Sure enough, one evening someone broke in and stole the stuff.

    Gretel McAlbertson: Why are you stealing food?

    Ratso Rizzo: I was just, uh, noticing that you're out of salami. I think you oughtta have somebody go over to the delicatessen, you know, bring some more back.

    Gretel McAlbertson: Gee, well, you know, it's free. You don't have to steal it.

    Ratso Rizzo: Well, if it's free, then I ain't stealin'.

    You might be on to why Andrew thought it would be okay to give discounts.  Everything in that store had been donated.  It was all free when it came in.  Someone at Goodwill set a value and all he did was halve it.  Ha!


    Only about 7000 of Goodwill's 105,000  employees are handicapped and they are paid "commensurate wages" as low as $1.44 hr. The apparent reason for them prosecuting this employee was that upper management's pay is dependent on sales profit and his discounting affected their bottom line. Goodwill may do good deeds but it's management structure is pure Capitalist where careerists managers reap unjustified windfalls, they get most of their Product for  free and they get millions from taxpayers. So much used clothing is donated to charity in the US that most of it is excess and it is wholesaled to Africa where it undermines the local textile industries and causes more poverty.

    Thanks for the info, Peter.  I had no idea about the clothing surplus.  One thing we're good at is creating waste.

    Since I had not been to my up scale Goodwill for months,  I dropped in today.  It is in the same strip mall as the Dollar Store Market and I needed to pick up some dish soap. They have moved back to a more traditional thrift and it was busy.  It was not as organized and attractive with displays.  There was cheaper everyday stuff now with the used mink stoles and beaded gowns.  I guess they had to add some junk to boost sales.  All these comments here got me interested in stopping.  A group of local homeless was at the entrance of the parking lot.  They had their signs.  I happen to know some of them by their first names.  They used to hang out in front of the trailer park.  I stopped and handed them 2 dollars and listen to Brenda tell me why they are down the street now.  I had not seen them for the last month.   They were gone when I got done shopping.  It was starting to get dark.  The chronic homeless is part of the community in my part of the world.  I will have to tell the neighbors when they comment on missing them.  I did find a Wilton valentine cookie sheet and a fake copper jello mold just the right size with a fall theme all for $3. Now my grand daughter wants to make valentine whoopie pies tomorrow. She figured out that all of them would fit in the oven at the same time to convince me that we should add valentines in with the pumpkin whoopie pies to save time. LOL. 

    Our Goodwill (60 miles away) has downsized too--twice in the last few years.  It went from a huge store built just for them to a smaller, more crowded former dime store downtown to an even smaller block building outside of town.  I don't know what's going on.

    But I'm curious, Momoe, what do the signs say?  Why are the homeless carrying signs there?

    "Hungry"  "Homeless"  Stuff like that.  They are pan handling.  Florida doesn't do much for the homeless.  Social services leaves a lot to be desired.  It is really sad.  The well to do live in gated communities and condos and complain when they see them to the authorities.  Eventially they end up in poorer communities where no one will call the cops.  They sleep in over grown wooded areas.  There is many small abandoned orange groves around here that they set up housekeeping in. They don't like the shelters because they loose what little they have to thieves. Also there is a time limit on how long they can stay, but if there isn't enough money being spent to move them into low cost housing, they end up back on the street.  Families with children go to the head of the waiting list so many adults fall through the cracks.   

    How sad.  And it'll only get worse.  The homeless are obviously more visible where you are, since they can at least stay warm there.  But we know they're everywhere and they will be until the meanies stop salving their consciences by pretending they're either there because they want to be or they're there because they're losers and that's all they'll ever be.

    Some interesting data on the decline in homelessness since 2005 while the economy tanked. The Bush era "housing first" program reduced chronic homelessness by 30% between '05 and '07 and Obama's '10 program continued that trend, so even one of the "meanies"  Bush has helped reduce this problem. The problem now is that these gains can be easily undone by the push from both parties and Obama for austerity.

    I'm assuming this is where your data came from?

    It is good news, and no, we haven't heard enough about this, but this last part pretty much outlines the see-saw we'll be seeing in this country forever unless we finally do some deep thinking about priorities (emphasis mine):

    As quietly as homelessness has fallen, so too it will go up quietly – unless there is major intervention.  The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development estimates that sequestration cuts from homelessness programs are set to expel 100,000 people from a range of housing and shelter programs this year. That’s nearly one sixth of the current total homeless population. Far from gently raising the homeless rate, it would undo a full decade of progress.

    Unless the 2014 budget remedies some of the change coming to housing services in the second half of this year, the homelessness rate will soon rejoin other bleak indicators of economic recovery. The President can make a public plea for increased assistance for remarkably well-functioning homelessness initiatives. Congress can act to save the surprising success story of Bush era and stimulus programs. The general public can advocate for the vulnerable within their community.

    There's three separate issues being discussed in the blog and comments.

    The first is the question of Goodwill CEO's and management pay. Perhaps a case could be made that its too high. My cynical mind tells me that is likely true. But simply listing the pay of three CEO's doesn't make that case. Its at best a tiny first step toward making that case.

    The second is the supposition that some managers of Good will stores are siphoning off the best of the donations for personal use or to sell for personal profit. Again my cynical mind sees that as reasonably possible too. But rumor and innuendo doesn't even begin to make that case.

    The third question is a cashier unilaterally discounting goods at half off the price. In no way shape or form is it acceptable for a low level employee to discount items at the cash register. I'm sure Anderson got a big ego stroke when he gave away other people's money with no cost to himself. I don't think his heart was in the right place and I don't believe he didn't know what he was doing was wrong. Maybe now he understands that stealing other people's money for a "free" ego boost has costs. He gets no sympathy from me.


    You didn't mention how you felt about Andrew Anderson's arrest.  That was the main thrust of this post.

    I worked as a cashier in a mini-market/gas station. What do you think would be the appropriate punishment if I gave away $4000 of half priced food or gas to poor people who came in? I'll tell you, it would have really made me feel good to be giving those poor people half priced food and gas. I'm big hearted like that.

    I think it doesn't matter where a cashier works, Goodwill, Walmarts, Burger King. If you rip off the store you should get the same punishment.


    Consider this, though: at Goodwill, all of the items being sold had been donated by others wishing to help the needy. Don't get me wrong, what this guy did was wrong, but it's not difficult to imagine a naïve young man thinking that it was acceptable. I actually have nothing against them firing the man, but having him arrested?

    By contrast, no one could remotely argue that Walmart or Burger King are in the business of helping the less fortunate.

    Keeping in mind that we are talking about a teenager here, the arrest was definitely unnecessary.  A more conscious management might have taken some responsibility for not training the employee properly and reprimanded him without firing him.  Teaching him how to properly do his job would have been a more appropriate response in my view. 

    I don't feel you can pretend this was just like working at a regular retail place.  This happened precisely because it was a charitable organization.  In my view, how they handled the situation reflects their values and they could certainly do better.

    The issues of whether people take advantage of such charities for personal benefit is an issue few would probably care to truly investigate.  And clearly these days the higher level pay of every CEO etc. is suspect when the wages of the majority of the country are being depressed.  That is something that needs to be screamed and shouted about.

    A more conscious management might have taken some responsibility for not training the employee properly

    You really think that?  I think its highly unlikely they didn't tell him to look for a price tag, ring up those prices, then hit total. Take the customers money, input that amount into the machine, hit the balance button, and give the customer that amount of change. There were probably other instructions, like on Tuesdays all blue tagged items are half off. He was probably reminded of that fact when he came in on a Tuesday. That alone should have made it clear that the rest of the week blue tagged items are not half priced or that other color tagged items aren't half priced when ever the hell he decided they were.

    Most thrift shops I've been to will not sell an item that doesn't have a price tag. They will not price it at the cash register. It has to be sent back to be repriced. I've had that happen to me.  Its likely he was told to send unpriced items back to be repriced.  Yet somehow he felt it would be ok to reprice any item anytime he decided. Bullshit, he knew it was wrong.

    Yeah, he may not have been specifically told not to make up his own prices any  time he felt it was a good idea. That's not an indication of poor employee training but willful ignorance.

    One can argue whether the punishment is too harsh. One can argue that about punishments for all crimes, its constantly being debated. But as far as I'm concerned the only one responsible for his problems is himself. People often spend a lot of energy rationalizing behavior they know is wrong. That's how I interpret his lame assed excuses for his behavior.

    Keep in mind that unlike most stores, all of the items being sold had been donated — the prices didn't reflect the actual cost of the store to acquire them in any meaningful way. Furthermore, the proceeds from the sales go to help the poor (and Goodwill's CEOs). In his mind (possibly), he was just cutting to the chase.

    I think you're underestimating the typical person's ability to not think things through to assert that he unequivocally knew this was wrong. (That said, I agree that it's difficult to fault his trainers for not stressing to him that he should be selling items at the price shown on their price tags.)

    I think that is the crux of our disagreement. You think "it's not difficult to imagine a naïve young man thinking that it was acceptable." I can't see how any young man of average intelligence wouldn't have known it was wrong.

    Clearly my view is in the minority. I'm ok with that. There have been times when I was the only one I know that held a certain view. I'm comfortable in that position too. The by far more popular opinion  has caused Goodwill to drop all charges. That doesn't change my mind but I'm not hell bent on punishment. I'm ok with the popular will forcing a change in Goodwill's action in this case.

    I can't see how any young man of average intelligence wouldn't have known it was wrong.

    Approximately half of the population is of below average intelligence.

    Wow, it must really bother you that I have a different opinion that you feel the need to play silly little word games. You do realize that most words have more than one definition don't you? The mathematical or statistical meaning and use is not the only definition or use of the word. Average also means typical or normal. Half the population is not subnormal or below typical. Look it up dude if you're confused.

    Kind of a pet peeve of mine, these silly games people like to play with the multiple definitions of words. For example the question: Is a tomato a vegetable or a fruit? Its a game of one upmanship mixing the colloquial definition of an edible plant item, vegetable, with the botanical definition of fruit, most of which aren't even edible.

    Are we having fun now?

    I didn't mean to irritate you nor to play word games. I merely meant to point out that there are a lot of people out there who are less intelligent than you might give them credit for. I don't know about you, but in my circles, I usually interact with people who are 2 or more standard deviations above average intelligence (including most people at dagblog, I suspect). It's easy to forget that we're not "normal".

    There's a lot we don't know about this story. The claim is he discounted the prices 50% for people who looked poor. The claim is it cost the company $4000. No information as to how they arrived at that figure. That's $8000 worth of goods. That must have taken some time. $8000 is a lot of business for the average thrift shop. Longer since we can assume that he charged full price to those who he decided looked like they could afford it.

    We don't know how he got caught. But it seems to me that if he thought it was totally cool to discount prices for those he decided were too poor he might have casually mentioned it to someone before he gave away $4000.

    I suppose now you'll suggest that he was such a good person he didn't want to brag about his "charity" at Goodwill's expense. What a saint!

    Andrew says out of the two weeks he gave discounts, not once did he put a dollar in his own pocket and he even offered to pay back the money that Goodwill estimates he gave away.

    He was only at it for two weeks and yet, according to management, he gave $4000 worth of discounts.  Can one person sell more than $8000 worth of goods at a Goodwill in a mere two weeks--assuming there must have been a few days off during that fortnight? 

    I would question that $4000 amount, just as I questioned the need to send the kid to jail.  No, he's not a saint--even he doesn't think so--but I'll agree, there's a lot we don't know about this story.


    Man,  I must be shopping at the wrong store.  They must have some really good junk. Maybe I should take a day trip down there.

    Florida has a terrible record with the school to prison pipeline.  This is now a political issue here in Florida and it is the young people who are organizing against it.  Like I said up thread, you don't want to get in trouble in Collier County.  

    Yeah, I suspect that $8,000 is to what he actually gave away what the $22,500 damages per song that the RIAA says the industry is injured is to what their actual injuries are. (OK, maybe not that excessive, but using similar inflationary strategies.)

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