Retail Merchandiser - January/February 2015 - 77

of retail space and 20,000 square feet of loading dock and
processing facilities. Most America's Thrift Stores process
all their merchandise in their back rooms - sorting, grading,
processing and hanging clothing.
"It's set up in an assembly-line kind of way," Sobaski says.
"Someone does a first sort of it." This is to determine whether each item is salable. A second sort classifies the item by
men's, women's, boy's or girl's. "Then it is graded, priced,
hung or put into totes to put out on the floor," Sobaski continues. "It is a very hands-on, laborious job."
However, technology makes the job easier. "We have a
point-of-sales system that allows us to grade items on quality and condition, defined by the amount of wear and tear,"
Sobaski says. "There are four levels of conditions that we
grade on and three levels of quality. Then we have a pricing
system that assigns a price to the item."

Overseas Markets
Merchandise that remains unsold after four weeks is sold
wholesale by America's Thrift Stores, and many other thrift
retailers like Goodwill, to large international broker networks
in Africa, Central and South America and the Middle East.
Sobaski estimates that up to 25 percent of what is donated
is deemed unsalable. Of that, another 20 to 25 percent is
baled and recycled as rags. Damaged or soiled clothing is
disposed of. Income is generated from some recycled materials such as cardboard, paper or metal. "We're a $50 million to
$60 million revenue business overall, and recycling revenue
is well under a million dollars," Sobaski points out.
The retail seasons in the thrift store business vary from those
in the rest of retailing. "Our lowest seasonality is mid-November through mid-January," Sobaski reveals. "In our hard
goods and non-clothing lines, we have a spike in December,
but that's only 30 to 35 percent of our overall sales. Our highest retail seasonality is mid-February to mid-April and September and October. I think it's because our business is primarily a clothing business, and gift-buying probably doesn't
include buying used clothing." Those periods of highest sales
coincide with the change of seasons in the South when people
need new clothing for the upcoming season, he says.

Management Training Changes
America's Thrift Stores promotes from within. "In the last six
months, we've had 37 internal promotions, and I want to do
more," Sobaski says. One way of achieving that has been to
make fundamental changes in the manager training program.
"Historically, the program had been more about learning
how to do the jobs in the store," Sobaski says. "What we
were finding was we were having people coming out of the
program who were great at doing but not teaching, training
and leading. So we've added elements of coaching, leaderJanuary/February 2015

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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Retail Merchandiser - January/February 2015

Contents
Retail Merchandiser - January/February 2015 - Cover1
Retail Merchandiser - January/February 2015 - Cover2
Retail Merchandiser - January/February 2015 - 1
Retail Merchandiser - January/February 2015 - 2
Retail Merchandiser - January/February 2015 - Contents
Retail Merchandiser - January/February 2015 - 4
Retail Merchandiser - January/February 2015 - 5
Retail Merchandiser - January/February 2015 - 6
Retail Merchandiser - January/February 2015 - 7
Retail Merchandiser - January/February 2015 - 8
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Retail Merchandiser - January/February 2015 - Cover3
Retail Merchandiser - January/February 2015 - Cover4
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