SAVERS STORES: Tricking donors, treating themselves, screwing charities
|Cloaked in fuzzy deception, and leaping all the way to the bank.|
I was cynical the moment I heard a public service announcement about the new Savers thrift shop in our area. "Dedicated to supporting our community's nonprofit organizations," our local NPR affiliate declared.
"Go shopping, and help others at the same time!" another ad said enticingly.
"Proceeds go to Big Brothers Big Sisters!" a new TV commercial claims, tugging at those proverbial heartstrings. What a wonderful rationale for a buying spree!
My first question was: Is Savers itself a nonprofit? The answer is NO. It is "a U.S.-based multinational profit-making conglomerate" with more than 350 stores in three countries.
My second question was: How much of its $1.5 billion annual revenue goes to the charities it claims to benefit? The answer is: None of your business. Savers has always refused to disclose its outlays to the nonprofits whose names it uses to attract both donors and shoppers (and the charities flatly refuse to discuss the matter as well). I found estimates ranging from three percent to 10 percent. Savers earns more in one year than it donates every 10 years, according to documents regarding its second recapitalization.
Savers claims repeatedly that its proceeds go to its various charities. "Proceeds" is defined by Webster as "the total amount brought in <the proceeds of a sale>".
It seems to me that the Savers profiteers should proceed ("to go on in an orderly, regulated way") to prison, after their 60 years of deception.
The Los Angeles Times calculated 27 years ago that Savers earns more than 100 percent return on its equity each year. That was before its explosive growth, beefed-up management expertise (from buyout firm Freeman Spogli), aggressive advertising, big-time Wall Street capitalization, and economies of scale.
New stores are being launched at a dizzying rate, including the one that just popped up in my community. The firm projected in 2012 that it would double its number of outlets by 2017.