Society of St. Vincent de Paul

Wayne Bugg shares his story as a Vincentian -Video-

Wayne Bugg shares his story as a Vincentian -Video- 1080 1080 SVDP USA

Wayne Bugg shares his story as a Vincentian

Hear what Wayne Bugg has to say about his experience with the Society of St. Vincent de Paul from a young age, and how his encounters with Vincentians over the years guided his path in life to become the Vincentian that he is today and serve as the Associate Executive Director of St. Vincent de Paul Twin Cities.

Wayne Bug, Associate Executive Director for St. Vincent de Paul Twin Cities: 

My name is Wayne Bugg, and I’m the associate executive director for St. Vincent de Paul in the Twin Cities. Around the age of 15, my next-door neighbor worked for St. Vincent de Paul. He invited me to come and hang out with him and move some furniture. At the time, I was a high school dropout and I needed to make some legal money. I needed to make some changes in life. So this was like a divine intervention that this young man reached out to me. So I originally started off as a neighbor in need.

As I came on working for the thrift store, it was culture shock. So I came here to make money and have come to find out that people that are volunteers are working for free. I couldn’t understand the concept and so I found out over a period of time that it was their love for God and their love for people that had called them to do this and this level of love. After many, many conversations, they began to pour into me. I think I had issues with my image as an image bearer of God. I really didn’t see that, but they saw that in me. And in one particular person, Darrell Bach, the Council president, began to talk to me and told me how unique and special I was and how I needed to go back to school because at that point I was a high school dropout, and so that right there I think endeared me to the Society.  They kind of do sometimes what we do with items at the thrift store. We give them a second chance. People donate them to us because they feel that they have no value and I felt like I didn’t have any value. But they were able to take me in, kind of shine me up a little bit and then represent me.

So I work during the day and went to school at night and eventually I got my GED and so I show back up with this piece of paper. I’m thrilled. Not many people that I grew up around, you know, have that or achieved that. I was ready to retire education wise, but Darrell said no it’s not enough. He was thrilled, but he said I had a greater capacity than me and so he talked me into going to college, and so I signed up for the Community College down the street.

Darrell was near retirement age and so they had just hired executive director Ed Curran and he came along. I felt as though there was like, there’s this agreement between the two that he will continue to mentor me, and so here I am hanging out with Ed and watching Ed from you know, from afar, watching him be a husband and a father and some of those things that I didn’t know that they were possible. I saw a lot of broken relationships and things of that nature, so I was encouraged by his lifestyle.

So I finished school, I got my associates degree. And I came back to Saint Vincent and showed Ed, and he says, great, let’s finish. You can do more!  And so he talked me into going to get my bachelors degree and so I signed up for classes and eventually I got my bachelors degree.

And even more so to me I got married, and I never thought as a kid that that would be something I wanted to do. But being able to see Daryl and see Ed and some of these other Vincentians, these couples, that came and volunteered changed my perception about marriage and that you can be happily married. So this is one of the things that kind of impacted me. And along that path, my wife eventually she got pregnant and we had twins. One of the Vincentians, Margaret Kuznia, she said Wayne, while your wife is in these early stages I will come to your house three to four times a week and just cook, whatever else that you need me to do. This is one of those things that communicated the Vincentian virtues that demonstrated the gospel, how Jesus and his level of intimacy that he had given to people. So these are some of the things that kept me there at the Society even after getting my diploma.

Now the roles have kind of changed where I was the mentee and I was receiving all this mentorship and to a degree I still do, but now I have an opportunity to engage with our employees. They have similar stories and situations where they feel that they’ve been abandoned, that they’ve been broken and so I am able to pour into them these same truths about God and his ability to redeem and recover. And then also our neighbors that come in and some of our neighbors are in distress and they come in and they are in the midst of a situation and they don’t have anywhere to turn. But we get to be the beacon of light, the lighthouse in the community. It’s a thrill and a privilege for me to be able to serve in that capacity. Everything has been poured into me. To establish relationships and to love people in a way that so many people yearn for is one of the reasons why I continue to stay with Saint Vincent de Paul and continue to be marveled by all the individuals in this wonderful organization.

The Home Visit: An Encounter with our Neighbor -Video-

The Home Visit: An Encounter with our Neighbor -Video- 1080 1080 SVDP USA

The Home Visit: An Encounter with our Neighbor

Hear what three Vincentians – Kat, Ray, and Tim – have to say about their experiences during a Home Visit with a neighbor, and how that has shaped their time with the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.

Kat Brisette, SVDP Rhode Island:

Home visits are one of my favorite parts of the Society of Saint Vincent DePaul. Just being able to, you know, put yourself in an uncomfortable position, just like our neighbors are in an uncomfortable position and being able to just listen to them and talk with them. My favorite home visits are when there’s kids. Maybe it’s just because I like to fool around, and so it’s fun to interact with them. So a lot of times we’ll bring like a coloring book or things for them to play with while we’re meeting. So a lot of my favorite interactions have been, you know, when you bring the coloring book in and two siblings on the floor and they’re coloring it in while you’re talking with mom. And before they go, they put a big heart on it and give it to you. And so I have plenty of coloring pages that I have framed and I keep with me because it just reminds us of what we do and why we do it.


Raymond Sickingar, SVDP Rhode Island:

Years ago, my wife and I went on a Home Visit together. There’s a trailer park where we live – we deal with rural poverty where we live and sometimes that can be even more insidious than urban poverty because it’s less visible and there are less resources – but this one woman was in a trailer park, so we went and visited her and she was out of gas or propane. She also needed to rent the land that the trailer was on. So there were a few needs that she had so we were going over to talk to her. And it was a rainy night, I remember, it was raining pretty bad and we got to the door and she invited us in and we sat down. And I don’t know what made us do it that night, I’m not sure we had done it a great deal before, but we just said “What’s going on? What’s your story?” 45 minutes to an hour later, the woman stopped and took a breath.  And she said. “Oh, I feel so light,” she says. “I have not been able to tell that story to anybody.” And we helped her. We actually got her into a sustainable position, but really what she needed most was somebody to listen. And what my wife and I learned that night, was to first stop and take the time to listen. The stories are powerful, and people need to feel like they’re human.


Timothy Williams, SVDP USA:

One is one of the first visits my wife and I went on and it was a man who rode his bike to work every day and back 7 miles. Because he didn’t have a car but he had ten kids. There’s always more mouths than money, even with food stamps, and so he called us for help with food, it’s the end of the month. And so we come with the groceries and all these kids come tumbling out the house to help with carrying them. This one little girl grabs a gallon of milk. She turns around towards that house, and she danced back to the house – this gallon of milk. Gandhi once said there are some people so poor they can only see God in a piece of bread. But I was looking at her and the only thing I could think was “the Kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”


Kat Brisette, SVDP Rhode Island:

The Society is such an awesome way that we’re able to live out our faith and be that example of what it truly means to be a Catholic and a Christian in today’s world.


Timothy Williams, SVDP USA:

When we go to visit the neighbors in need in their homes, we see Christ, and you really receive this Grace from God.


Raymond Sickingar, SVDP Rhode Island:

I found it very easy to see the face of Christ and those we serve over the years that I’ve served. But we also have to reflect that loving face back to Christ. That’s the part of that Vincentian charism, that an incredible gift of the Holy Spirit, that speaks to me most.

Why Am I a Vincentian? -Video-

Why Am I a Vincentian? -Video- 1080 1080 SVDP USA

Why Am I a Vincentian?

Hear what three Vincentians – Mike, Pamela, and Marge – have to say about why they joined the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.

Marge McGinlly, Society of St. Vincent de Paul of Mt. Holly, New Jersey:

It’s fun. It’s a lot of fun, yes.


Mike Flynn, Society of St. Vincent de Paul Seattle:

What happened to me was I went to a ministry fair in our parish. I thought it was going to be doing Liturgy and this guy captured me and said you need to become a Vincentian. I said, what is that? He said, well, we help people, and I thought I’d like to help people. And so I went to a meeting and discovered how much more it meant to be a Vincentian than just helping people.


Pamela Matambanadzo, Society of St. Vincent de Paul Chicago:

Why do you keep coming back? What brought you here? And I think for me… we talk about service, we talk about spirituality and we talk about friendship. And it’s just the enrichment of all of those on the people you meet. You know the relationships you build. Just being able to serve, you know whether you’re at a soup kitchen or whether you’re at a home visit.


Marge McGinlly, Society of St. Vincent de Paul of Mt. Holly, New Jersey:

I’m a Vincentian because when I found the Vincentian family it spoke to my heart. It was a place where I fit. I have this love of people, especially the poor and the sick. And when I found the Vincentian charism it fit who God made me. So it was like finding a second family for me.


Contemplation: A Culture of Encounter

Contemplation: A Culture of Encounter 800 800 SVDP USA

By Tim Williams, Senior Director of Formation & Leadership Development

The Society of St. Vincent de Paul and the Home Visit both were formed when Frédéric Ozanam declared in 1833 that “we must do what Our Lord Jesus Christ did” and “go to the poor.” [Baunard, 65] The very first Rule in 1835 enshrined “the object of this Conference” as first, to grow in faith and spirit, and second, “to visit the poor at their dwellings.” [Rule, Intro, 1835] One hundred and ninety-one years later, the Home Visit remains the core, the very heart and soul, of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.

At first, Home Visits were not merely the central work, but the only work of the Society, whose young members guided by Bl. Rosalie and the Daughters of Charity “adopted” poor families and visited them regularly to bring food, firewood, clothing and other assistance. But more importantly, they formed true relationships, “relationships based on trust and friendship” as today’s Rule says. [Rule, Part I, 1.9]

It was personal relationships formed on Home Visits that led the first members towards what we now call systemic change. They didn’t start from an abstract vision of what society ought to be, but from a practical understanding of the real lives of their friends and neighbors, from “climbing the stairs to the poor man’s garret, sitting by his bed side, feeling the same cold that pierces him, sharing the secret of his lonely heart and troubled mind.” [Baunard, 279] That’s why, in its first year, the first Conference created an apprenticeship program for young men. It’s why, three years later, the new Conference in Lyon began a library and school for soldiers. It is also why, as Frédéric said, “home visits to the poor have still remained our principal work.”[1369, Rpt. to Gen.l Assembly, 1837]  The Home Visit inspires us to other works, and so the same Rule which declared Home Visits the “object” of the Conference, also insisted that “no work of charity should be regarded as foreign to the Society.” [1835 Rule, Art. 2]

Yet, even more important than this practical benefit of Home Visits is that they are our primary path to our growth in holiness. That is why our Rule still considers “home visitation reports” an essential part of the Conference Meeting. [Rule, Part III, St. 7] Sharing and meditating on our work leads us to “internal spiritual knowledge of [ourselves], others, and the goodness of God.” [Rule, Part I, 2.2]

We are called to see the face of Christ in the poor. When Christ calls us, we don’t ask Him to come to us, take a number, and fill out a form. We go to Him, we seek to encounter Him, wherever He lives – in a house, on the street, in prison, in assisted living, or in a hospital. The Home Visit is not our central work only for practical and historical reasons, but because it is an encounter that changes us.

Each visit is a holy encounter, and we make it with the deep understanding that “one does not live by bread alone,” that our assistance is only temporary, but that the love of God which sends us is eternal.


When was my last Home Visit?

Recommended Reading

Serving in Hope Module VII: Our Vincentian Home Visit

05-16-24 A Letter From Our Servant Leaders

05-16-24 A Letter From Our Servant Leaders 1200 1200 SVDP USA

On Monday of this week, I spent the day in meetings at the Vatican in Rome. Working alongside Juan Manuel Gomez, the President General International of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, and CGI Board Member Sebastian Gramajo from Argentina, we had three meetings: first with Monsignor Luis Marin de San Martin, Undersecretary of the General Secretariat of the Synod, then with Maria Lia Zervino, Institutional Director of World Union of Catholic Women’s Organizations, and lastly with The Secretary of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, Sister Alessandra Smerilli, and Fr. Patrio Salgat of that office.

Each of these meetings was vitally important to the work of the Society, both here in the United States as well as globally. The Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development was established by Pope Francis in August 2016. The work of the Dicastery, as directed by Pope Francis, is to express the Holy See’s concern for issues of justice and peace, including those related to migration, health, charitable works, and the care of creation.

The Dicastery promotes integral human development in the light of the Gospel and in the tradition of the Church’s social teachings. The Dicastery also expresses the Holy Father’s care for suffering humanity, including the needy, the sick and the excluded, and pays special attention to the needs and issues of those who are forced to flee their homeland, the stateless, the marginalized, victims of armed conflicts and natural disasters, the imprisoned, the unemployed, victims of contemporary forms of slavery and torture, and others whose dignity is endangered.

That mission certainly sounds a lot like what we do as members of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, doesn’t it?

This meeting was important in helping us understand how we can work more closely with the Church and the Bishops in supporting the work of the Holy See in areas such as Integral Human Development.

Similarly, our meeting with the Office of the World Union of Catholic Women’s Organizations was very informative, as we learned about the work of the Church in helping to empower and lift women out of poverty across the world. SVdP USA does an incredible amount of Twinning and project support overseas, and it was good to hear about project work being done through the Vatican. Additionally, the Vatican is looking for our support in some of the work they want to do in the United States, especially around poverty, women, single mothers, and other areas. We will be honored to help!

The meeting with the General Secretariat of the Synod was very interesting and enlightening. We had a wonderful discussion about VisionSVdP, and team at the Vatican were thrilled to hear about what we are doing! They had a lot of questions about our reasons for launching the effort, and were excited that we were modeling our efforts on the theme of Adapting to a Changing World.

One of the things that Msgr. San Martin kept emphasizing was the changing technology of the modern world and how we must adapt not only our processes and procedures, but also our approaches, to ensure we do not lose the spiritual closeness in the drive to technical efficiency and the electronic world. He was speaking my language! He was saying what I have been saying since I first put myself forward as a candidate for National President.

While we can, should, and will change and adapt our systems and our technology to make ourselves more effective and efficient as an operating organization, we cannot, must not, and will not ever lose the human-to-human, Christ-centered Encounter that is the foundational basis of who and what we are. At our core, at our spiritual center, at our faith grounding, we are people serving people through a process of encounter: Encounter in a Home Visit, a food pantry, a thrift store, a pharmacy, a housing program, a shelter, a prison visit, any of the many special works we provide.

My visits to the Vatican helped to define further areas and opportunities for collaboration and cooperation between SVdP and the Holy See to support people in need in the United States and internationally. Those visits also helped to reinforce to me the outstanding work of the Councils and Conferences across the country in support of our neighbors in need and in alignment with Catholic Social Teaching.

Peace and God’s blessings,

04-25-2024 A Letter from Servant Leaders

04-25-2024 A Letter from Servant Leaders 1200 1200 SVDP USA

By Pauline S. Manalo
National Vice President of Vincentian Programs and Services

Christ is Risen! We continue to celebrate our Lord’s Resurrection for 50 days. The Easter season is an opportunity for us to reflect on what Easter means to our Vincentian vocation.

Finding the tomb empty Mary Magdalen “raises the question that Christians are meant to ask: WHERE IS HE NOW?” (Fr. Robert P. Maloney, CM; Easter: Our Resurrection Faith, VinFormation). He is present in the Eucharist, the Real Presence. We meet the Risen Lord in the Eucharist. He lives on in us, in our community, in our families and friends, and especially in our neighbors in need. “When I was hungry you gave me food. When I was thirsty you gave me drink. When I was naked you clothed me.” (Matt. 25)

At a spiritual retreat, former Episcopal Advisor Bishop Donald Hying drew a parallel to our meeting Jesus in the Eucharist and Vincentians’ personal encounter with neighbors seeking our assistance. We meet the person of Jesus in our suffering neighbor struggling in poverty. Our Vincentian vocation is to seek and find Christ in those in need, in the forgotten, and in the victims of exclusion or adversity. (Rule 1.5) A local conference had a novel idea seeking those who need help by placing 250 door hangers—Need Help? Call Us! –in selected areas they serve.

“I am the resurrection and the life. “(Jn 11:25) The risen Jesus gives us hope. The gift of eternal life transforms us. We express our belief in the resurrection of the body and eternal life reciting the Apostles Creed. Despite pain, suffering, and uncertainties in our own lives, we carry the hope of Easter. We do not keep this gift of hope to ourselves. As Vincentian disciples of Christ, we are called to follow Him, through service to those in need and to bear witness to His compassionate and liberating love…Vincentians serve in hope. (Rule 1.2) We are called to adapt to a changing world. (Rule 1.6) We listen more intently to neighbors in need and to fellow Vincentians, we seek to be more aware of the changes in poverty within our society, and most of all we ask the Holy Spirit the wisdom to offer transformative hope that empowers neighbors to emerge from poverty.

In Tragedy, Homes Represent Hope

In Tragedy, Homes Represent Hope 1292 802 SVDP USA

In March of 2023, devastating tornadoes hit the town of Rolling Fork, MS. In the wake of a natural disaster, families living in poverty are often the most impacted, with fewer resources to rely upon.

According to Elizabeth Disco-Shearer, CEO of SVdP USA Disaster Services Corporation (DSC), disasters often hit hardest those who are already marginalized, rural, or low-income. In the aftermath, renters are particularly vulnerable, facing a scarcity of affordable housing options.

Collaborative efforts made by the DSC aim to address these vulnerabilities head-on, ensuring that no one is left behind in the recovery process. Shearer and Regional Program Manager Cathy Garcia joined forces with local Vincentians leaders Carrie Johnson-Robinson, Tommy Jordon, and Donavan Guilbeau to assess the impactful work being carried out by the SVdP District Council of Jackson, in partnership with DSC’s local staff and Rolling Fork Rising.

During their visit, the group toured several homes that are part of the Rolling Fork Rising homeowners’ program, which helps transition renters into homeowners. DSC’s local Disaster Case Managers have helped to identify tornado survivors who are candidates for the Rolling Fork Rising homeowners’ program.

Critical to this program is the commitment to financial literacy. Candidates selected for the program undergo a financial literacy program and are equipped with the tools they need to manage their finances effectively and sustainably. Additionally, candidates must meet specific minimum income level requirements to qualify for a low-cost mortgage. This mortgage, comparable to their previous rent payments, not only facilitates homeownership but also contributes to building their credit and breaking the cycle of poverty.

Thanks to donor generosity and SVdP volunteers, DSC is pleased to share that survivor Jamie Herman and her family will be receiving the new home — and they will be paying less for her mortgage than her previous rent! For her, a home is not just bricks and mortar — it represents hope and transformation.

Collaborative efforts like this foster true change and rebuild communities stronger than before. The program in Rolling Fork is a wonderful example of creating systemic change in the lives of disaster survivors.

“Christ’s presence is among us in this recovery work,” said SVdP National Secretary Carrie Johnson-Robinson.

04-03-24 VisionSVdP Update

04-03-24 VisionSVdP Update 8335 2555 SVDP USA

Dear Fellow Vincentians,

Now that the Midyear Meeting, where we rolled out VisionSVdP, is over, I want to give you a report on how things went at the meeting and let you know about the next steps in this important ongoing national initiative.

You will be hearing much about VisionSVdP over the next two plus years; this is one of the most important and impactful things we have undertaken as a Society in the last 25 years. And it will take the commitment, dedication, and full participation of every Vincentian at every level of the Society to make sure that the work we do will enable us to adapt to a changing world and ensure that our work and our relevance in supporting His people in need and growing in our own holiness and spirituality will continue for generations to come.

The launch of VisionSVdP at the Midyear Meeting was exciting and powerful! Almost 250 people, attendees and staff, participated in five separate listening sessions. Was there some nervousness? Some confusion? Some desire for structure and specific questions to answer? Of course there was! If there was not, I would have been very concerned. This is new ground we are breaking. This is quite easy for some people and exceedingly difficult for others.

These listening sessions require that we not only listen to each other, but that we listen to the Holy Spirit speaking to us and through us. They require that we be candid and open and honest and free thinking. If we gave you a bunch of questions and asked you to answer them, what we would get is — a bunch of answers to questions we asked. What we would NOT get is the things in your heart and in your soul that matter deeply and passionately to you. We would not get the voice crying out in the wilderness with the idea that might make all the difference in the world.

So going forward, if you are looking for a lot of structured conversations in VisionSVdP you might be disappointed, because you are not going to get that — at least not in this phase. But if you come to this process with an open heart and an open mind then I think any disappointment will turn to excitement and joy as you journey together, you and your fellow Vincentians on this path to adapting to a changing world. What this synodal process will provide you is an opportunity for open dialogue; listening sessions that are freeform and unstructured with thinking that is inspired by the Holy Spirit.

So, what is next? 

Now we are going into the Regional Meeting phase. We will hold listening sessions at every Regional Meeting over the next few months. I will be at many Regional Meetings to help facilitate; but since I have not yet figured out how to be cloned, I cannot get to them all. So, Dave Barringer will be at the ones I cannot attend, and the RVPs all participated in the launch at Midyear, so they are familiar with the process. There will be a video from our National Spiritual Advisor, Archbishop Andrew, to kick off each session and help center us on the task ahead.

After the Regional Meetings we are asking all Councils, Conferences, and Special Works to hold VisionSVdP Listening Sessions, preferably before the National Assembly. And I want to make a key point here. When I say we want all Vincentians to participate in VisionSVdP, I mean all Vincentians; Full Members, Associate Members, Staff, and Volunteers. And at some point, we will also determine how we can engage with the people we serve, our neighbors in need, to get their views on the Society and how we need to adapt to a changing world to best serve them.

All the comments from all the sessions will be gathered into a national database where we can all look at it. And when I say we, I mean we — you, me, and every Vincentian — because every voice matters, today and tomorrow. In Phase II, we will all begin to ask ourselves: What does all this mean? Then we will start to determine patterns, similarities, trends, commonalities, and areas where we want to focus. But we will also be looking for that voice in the wilderness.

There will be further updates as we continue the process. Thanks for your continued participation and support.

Peace and God’s blessings,

John Berry
National President

Stores Corner — Pricing Strategies for SVdP Thrift Stores

Stores Corner — Pricing Strategies for SVdP Thrift Stores 1080 1080 SVDP USA

A Discussion by: Dave Barringer, SVdP National Chief Executive Officer

The concept of Pricing is the least understood among the “4 P’s” of marketing – Price, Product, Place (distribution), and Promotion. However, a good pricing strategy can be your strongest tool toward sales and profits in a thrift store program.

In this article I will discuss several pricing strategies you can use to develop a set of guidelines for your store that help ensure you are creating maximum value for your store as well as your customers. As the former National Chief Marketing Officer and National Director Stores Support for Goodwill Industries, my insights below are based on twenty years of supporting more than 2,500 thrift stores across the United States. While the Society of St. Vincent de Paul is quite a different organization, the pricing theories and practices between the two retailers are much more the same than different.

First, know your limits. There is no point in operating a store unless it makes money for your organization. Certainly, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul (SVdP) may give away some, or even a lot, of what it collects directly to people in need, the store still needs to make enough money to keep the operation going. Fortunately, there are proven ways that a store can properly integrate with other aspects of the Society and still meet business objectives.

Here is an example of how this might work: The Council that owns the store wants to provide mattresses at no charge to families in need. They create vouchers for its Conferences to give to those who need this product, who bring them to the store for redemption. You know what each mattress costs from the supplier. Add to this any storage, transportation and other costs, such as labor and administration. From this, derive a “price” for the mattress, even though you will not charge the family in need for it. You will, however, charge the Conference this price for the mattress. In this way, you maintain the sales you need for the store’s livelihood, still provide the mattress at no cost to the family and keep a reasonable cost for the Conference who would otherwise need to purchase a new mattress elsewhere. A corollary example: The Conference may use its own vouchers to purchase the mattress, earned from its collection of saleable goods that are given to the store. Again, pricing plays a role here. The retail team determines, for example, that a truck full of used donated goods is equal 100x. The Conference holds a collection event at its parish and fills the truck. Upon pickup, the retail team pays the Conference in vouchers worth a percentage, say 60x, of the truck’s contents resale value. Everyone wins.

The first critical component of a good pricing strategy is to know your costs. This includes both direct costs (the cost for each unit) plus the indirect costs (costs that are there regardless of the number of units, such as rent) that are then applied to each unit. Most retailers take the total cost of the unit and then double it to set a price to ensure its profits. This becomes your baseline pricing strategy, cost times 2. This price allows for the unforeseen, such as shrink and damaged goods to some extent, and gives you wiggle room to stimulate sales through pricing discounts later.

Competitive Pricing

Some thrift stores simply copy the price of the other stores in town. This is dangerous because their costs may be radically different. The competitor with many area stores can spread its indirect costs over more stores and more items. Perhaps the competitor wants to price you out of business, by selling their goods so low that if you match them, you go broke first because of your cost structure and/or charitable goals.

I once saw a store that priced its goods exactly double those of another thrift store directly across the street. The higher-price store went shopping at the competitor, took its best goods, then doubled the prices for sale. Customers only saw inferior goods at the lower-priced store and were happy to pay the higher prices for the better goods at the other store because, after all, every item is one of a kind. Believe it or not, the lower-priced store was happy for a while being the wholesaler in effect for the other store. Ultimately, though, they realized that shoppers weren’t coming in any longer, because the “treasures” that shoppers enjoy in all thrift stores were being picked away before most shoppers had a chance to find them. What to do? They raised their prices to cut the profit margin opportunity for the higher price store and kept good values for its own customers who had already proved they would pay the higher prices by their defection to the other retailer.

The same concept applies to shoppers who use our stores as suppliers for their yard sales and eBay/online businesses. They show us that our goods are worth more in the marketplace, so why don’t we price them to keep the profits for ourselves? It may be our charitable intent, which I will discuss later. Remember, the first customers to complain when you raise prices are these retailers who make money from what they buy from you. Thus, these complaints are a sign that you are doing a good thing!

Know your Environment

If you are reading this article in hopes that I can give you a specific price point for every item, or even any item, in your thrift store, then you don’t understand your local environment. Did you know, for example, that food prices may be 30 percent lower in Baltimore than only a few miles away in Washington, DC?

We all live in areas with separate economic conditions and cost-of-living realities. Separate from our competitive status, we also have economic truths to consider in pricing. That four-dollar blouse is a bargain in a high-cost area but priced too high for another one. You probably have some sense of your relative trade market economy. Scoping out other thrift stores and discount retailers will help you gauge the range in which your prices may need to reside, at least as a starting point.

NEXT TIME: PART TWO – Different Pricing Concepts to Explore

If you have a topic that you would like addressed in a future Stores Corner article, please e-mail our Jeff Beamguard, National Director of Stores Support at

11-02-2023 A Letter From Our Servant Leaders

11-02-2023 A Letter From Our Servant Leaders 1080 1080 SVDP USA

What is the hardest thing you’ve ever done? I don’t mean running a 10K, bench pressing 300 pounds, or completing the New York Times crossword in record time. No, I mean what was really the hardest thing you have ever done? Was it to leave home and venture out on your own? Was it to ask that pretty girl out on the first date that resulted in a lifetime of love and family? Was it to leave an unhealthy relationship or change an unhealthy behavior? Was it letting go when you really didn’t want to? Was it leaving that comfortable, well-paying, secure job to take a shot at a new opportunity?

And why did you choose to do that thing? Close your eyes a minute and think about it.

OK, welcome back. I don’t know what you might have decided was the hardest thing you’ve ever done, but I am pretty sure that whatever it was, there a very important factor that was involved in your decision to do it: Vision.

When you began the thought process about that decision, I am willing to bet that (consciously or unconsciously) you went through a process of imagining the ‘other side’ of it. You had a vision of the consequences of success — or  failure.. And as you contemplated your decision, you asked yourself “Imagine if I …”

Underlying that vision was an even more important factor: Faith.

Your faith — in yourself,  in others, and  in God — was the underlying core that made that vision something attainable and realistic, and thus gave you the courage to move forward. Likewise, in the decision process a lack of faith in any of those things might have given you the red light to say ‘No, this isn’t something I want to do/try/begin.’

In a few months we will begin what I have called our SVdP USA ‘Family Conversation.’  It is an opportunity for us to journey together in an exploration of the challenges and opportunities we have as we adapt to a changing world; just as we are called to do by The Rule, Part 1, 1.6.  As we work together in this guided process over the next few years and journey together to adapt to a changing world, let’s keep those two very important principles in our minds.

Vision: “Imagine if we …”

Faith: “What is God calling us to do as his workers in the field to support our Sisters and Brothers in Christ?”

Because if we can answer those questions and do the hard things that result from them, then we will create a beautiful foundation for the future and those who follow us in this amazing vocation.

Remember the words of St. Paul: “I can do all things in Christ who strengthens me.”

Peace and God’s blessings,

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