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Thursday, January 10, 2013

Button thief continues to plague thrift shop. OH, SNAP


Button thief hits West Nashville thrift shop

Valuable fasteners cut from cocktail dresses, suits

The This ’N That Thrift Shop in West Nashville has $6 end tables in perfect condition, iPhone cases in their original packaging and valuable books, but what one repeat thief covets is buttons.
“Maybe they’re a seamstress and don’t want to pay for the fancy buttons or [they] sell them on eBay,” said Susan Hiles, a volunteer who has worked a few times a month at the clean, tidy thrift store for seven years.
Valuable buttons with pearls and rhinestones have been cut from clothing such as cocktail dresses and dinner suits for several years. Hiles said instead of clipping the thread holding the button, the thief cuts a hole in the item itself to then pocket the button.
The store’s workers believe the buttons are snipped after the shoplifter takes clothing into a dressing room.
“These are nice suits that we could get some money for,” said Hiles, pointing at a women’s three-piece cream suit priced at $30. “Once it’s destroyed, we give it to [Goodwill] to use the fabric for different uses. It’s not something that we can then sell.”
The damage stopped for about eight months before resuming a month ago. The store’s proceeds, about $11,000 a month, go to St. Luke’s Community House.
It’s a local charity that offers youth programs, provides counseling services and delivers meals to low-income and disabled seniors, among other contributions to the neighborhood.
“That’s a chunk of change for their budget,” said Hiles.
This ’N That workers posted signs at the front door and register counter to notify shoppers of the continued theft.
“Maybe it’s symptomatic of today,” said Suzanne Shamanski, who calls herself a seasoned thrifter. “Maybe they’re narcissistic criminals.”
The sign reads: “Button thief is destroying lovely clothes you might have bought. If discovered, we will have her arrested. Please help us find her.”
Other thrift stores in the area aren’t experiencing the same problem. Amir Sahimi is one of the managers of Unique Thrift Store on Charlotte Pike, a few blocks from This ’N That.
“Of course, people do shoplift,” said Sahimi. “But I haven’t seen something like that at my store.”
Hiles said not only is St. Luke’s being deprived, but also neighborhood patrons of the hard-to-miss lime-green store on Georgia Avenue.
Regulars are greeted by name, and they return the kindness.
Hiles said a customer recently gave an extra $20 on top of her purchase. Another shopper mentioned how she’d taken in and was caring for a pregnant woman but didn’t have the money to buy blankets and other necessities.
Hiles said she had a $20 voucher that the woman was then able to use.
Hiles said This ’N That’s volunteers have been trying to keep an eye on shoppers, and they think the theft is happening on Tuesdays, the store’s busiest day. They’ve talked about hanging nicer clothing items behind the register .
A reward of a $20 gift certificate at the thrift shop is being offered.
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