I'm all over the used clothes situation in Spruce Pine. The other day, I went to every second hand store in downtown, all four of them. Two of 'em are run by the same people. Their proceeds go to help abused women. They have a trailer they hide behind a building. They separate the unsellable clothes by wool, cotton, etc and they say it gets recycled.
The third one has no idea what to do. They had piles of clothes in plastic bags all over the floor. It was hard to get around.
Then I went to the one that throws away their unsellable used clothes. I spoke to a paid employee, Martha Gordon. Their proceeds go to feeding the hungry and helping with the heating bills for people with low incomes. She told me that they used to have a trailer in the parking lot. She said the town manager, Richard Canipe, won't let them park it there anymore. "He didn't like the way it looked." She pointed out a scar on a nearby hillside, covered in riprap. "And that looks good?" Martha's pretty funny. (But, she declined to be videotaped. Darn.)
Richard Canipe is not only the Spruce Pine town manager. He is currently treasurer and recent past president of the Spruce Pine Main Street Board. He told me that Martha is mistaken about looks of the trailer. He said it was taking up four or more parking spaces in a city lot. Since they fill up on weekends, according to Mr. Canipe, the town council voted to have the trailer removed.
Mr. Canipe made it very clear that no action on his part was anything other than what he was directed to do by the town council. He told me at least four times. "This is not representing my personal opinion, you understand." Speaking for himself, he did wonder (extensively) how people who donated the clothes felt about them being sliced up and destroyed. He sounded very concerned about the feelings of those who had donated the clothing. I assured him that as a citizen journalist I would be all over it.
Then, Mr. Canipe told me all about the grant they're getting from the Clean Water Fund to explore the concept of extending their really nice walking path along the river. "Spruce Pine has two things going for it. One, a railroad and two, a river, right through downtown." He says he envisions the place becoming an artist colony, some kind of tourist attraction.
I went back to Martha and relayed Mr. Canipe's concern for the used clothes as well as his assertion that the parking spaces were desperately needed. She showed me where the trailer had taken up only two spaces. She also pointed out that it takes three men to collect cardboard boxes every Monday and Thursday morning. I'm not sure what this has to do with used clothes but she sounded pretty pissed.
I told her of my concern for the amount of work it took to shred the clothes versus the amount it would take to haul it down the street three blocks. She assured me destroying the clothes (and hauling them out to the dumpster) was no problem. "Oh, we just use a big ol' butcher's knife." She said she thought it was too much work to haul the clothes down to the trailer that belongs to the first store. "And they get paid by the pound. We'd have to figure that out." Apparently, that was an insurmountable obstacle, the figuring out. She didn't seem to understand that I was delicately probing (as only I can delicately probe) the concept that not throwing things away has some benefit in and of itself.
QUICK UPDATE on the Borat/Babel Ingles controversy: Customer Service Supervisor Teddy somebody said, "Prob'ly decision's from corp'rate." He didn't care that Babel had children killing and masturbating. He didn't care that Borat had been banned for political reasons.
NEXT STEPS: Call Ingles corporate headquarters. Call the director of the used clothes outlet. Get the minutes of the meeting where the trailer decision was made. We'll get all this cleared up in no time. Drama Queen is all over these injustices in Spruce Pine, North Carolina. You can depend on it. If something doesn't break soon (and if they're not too busy) WNCNN will have to send in its crack team of investigative reporters.