What were they thinking?

Noticed anything different at Value Village lately? While I usually try and shop charity shops before “VV Boutique” I often end up there when I am looking for something in particular. Their sheer volume and the way they consistently organize their merchandise just makes it easier to find things.

Until now.

In their wisdom, they’ve decided to stop colour-coding their clothing racks. Now they look like this:


not as sharp an image as I'd like but i was trying to be clandestine.

I was absolutely flabbergasted when I saw the change. Things are still hung according to size but the colours are totally mixed up. It used to be that if I was looking for a white, short-sleeved shirt, I’d go to the white short-sleeved shirt section, look in my size and have dozens to choose from. Now I have to look through all the short-sleeved shirts in order to find what I want. That’s (almost) fine if you have tons of time – but my time is just as valuable as my money and it ticks me off when people waste it.

I asked two sales clerks why the change was made. Neither of them had an answer for me, neither of them liked it. I have struck up conversations with shoppers as we’re browsing and none of us like the change.

So naturally, I emailed customer service and to their credit, they responded within two days. This is what they said:

We’ve changed the way we merchandise the store to help you have a better shopping experience. Our freshest merchandise is now put out on each end of the rack, so you don’t have to search through certain colors to find the best items. We’ve also left more room on each rack so it’s easier to take garments off. 


  • Allows us to maintain a consistent inventory level
  • No more over packed racks
  • With better inventory control there is less undesirable merchandise on the racks
  • While you may need to shop a few racks to find that black top there are fewer flawed tops to have to look through
  • More fresh selection, allows us to get more newly arrived product out for you to see
  • Cleaner store

Are you buying that argument? I agree that the racks are less crowded, which is very nice. And having new items on the ends of the racks is also a good idea. But they could easily have done both those things without messing up the rest of the space. The real reason they did this is because they think you will buy more things. If you have to go through all the short-sleeved shirts, you might come across something you weren’t looking for and buy that in addition to the short-sleeved white one you actually came in for. This undoubtedly works or they wouldn’t do it. But for shoppers like me, it just makes me mad and I wonder if the bean-counters ever take into account the possibility that they may tick off the faithful.

What’s ironic is that many volunteer-run, charity thrift shops try so hard to emulate Value Village because they are seen as setting the industry standard. In fact, one of the things that set Value Village apart when they first started was that they not only are a retail store, they look like one – until now. Imagine going to the Gap and having to look through their entire, unsorted stock. It’s unheard of.

Personally, I’d much, much rather shop in a thrift shop that looks like this:


the nicely sorted racks at MCC Abby East

What do you think?

I’m linking up with two of my favourite places: Apron Thrift Girl and Thriftcore – check out their finds from last week. And I’m heading off to the Okanagan for holidays and will thrift while I’m there – I’ll let you know what I find! I look forward to your responses on today’s post!

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5 Responses to What were they thinking?

  1. in says:

    I like the color-coded racks better too, perfect when you need that brown sweater or white blazer, it just makes shopping easier and it’s easier on the eyes. I don’t think we have Value Village where I live, but almost all of the Goodwills continue with the color-matching.

  2. Van says:

    (Oops, sorry about this, hit enter before I finished writing my name somehow 😉

  3. Erna says:

    I also like the color coded racks better. Also don’t like the way they have the pants on the hangers – almost sideways, wierd.

  4. Megan says:

    Hm, this is a tough one for me. I am a HUGE color-coded supporter, but I have friends who aren’t, and I think that part of this like/dislike issue comes from how each one of us dresses. I have to have certain colors, and no patterns, so I love going through the colors I like and skipping those I don’t. But someone who can wear a lot of different things might like looking through their whole size, and thrift stores cater to people who go through everything weekly (well, the best ones do anyway), not to those of us who buy thrift for other reasons entirely (e.g. short sleeved white shirt).

    I’d love a survey on a big thrift blog that asked people this very question. It really surprised me when I asked people at church (i.e. they didn’t agree with ME).

    • angelika says:

      don’t you hate it when people don’t agree with you? especially when you’re right? LOL! i’m surprised a bit by the reaction i’m getting here and on facebook to the pants-hanging change. i actually like that because it makes it easier to see the tag and that way they don’t come off the hanger right away. but no one on facebook has said they like the change so far. your comments are very interesting, though, i had not looked at it from that perspective!

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