The book of Deuteronomy may have been referring to thrift stores with the “prosper and multiply” saying.
You can’t turn up a street in Mankato without running into a thrift store. They’ve gone from tiny, shabby shops to large, clean, organized stores.
And people love them.
The number of thrift stores has grown 7 percent a year in recent years with more than 25,000 resale, consignment and not-for-profit resale shops in the United States.
Their power is beginning to rival traditional stores. About 17 percent of Americans shop at a thrift store during a given year, just shy of the 21 percent who shop in a major department store in a given year.
Thrift stores are the perfect business. They give shoppers good deals on clothes and other items that are often like new, they promote reuse rather than land-filling, and many help charities raise money. And people enjoy the treasure-hunt aspect of the stores.
So it was puzzling when the Burnsville City Council recently killed a thrift store project.
ARC of Minnesota, a popular chain of thrift stores whose proceeds benefit people who have mental disabilities, wanted to buy and renovate a building to open a new store in Burnsville.
The city had raised a number of site issues with ARC — the kind of issues that routinely come up with new developments. ARC made adjustments that satisfied the issues.
But the council, in a 3-2 vote, put a one-year moratorium on new thrift shops, saying there are land-use issues that need to be reviewed.
Backers of the moratorium were a bit hazy on exactly what land-use issues are so confounding to them that they need a year to study it.
Councilwoman Mary Sherry said thrift stores are a “relatively new” type of retailing that needs more study.