Who is buying up all the furniture in the local thrift stores? Six months ago, when I first started looking for a dining table, I found several nice ones, including a solid oak for $30, plus other decent items.

But now, all I see are "sold" stickers. A nice dining table, a cute white bistro set, an engraved king-size oak bed, a slightly used sofa, a dresser, an elaborate wooden entertainment center -- all bearing a "sold" sticker. I spoke to employees and a manager at several of these thrift stores and they say the same thing: People know when the trucks will arrive and are already waiting for them. Within minutes, they grab up all the best stuff. One employee took me into the backroom and showed me where he had put even more "sold" items, because he didn't want to confuse and disappoint "regular" customers by leaving them in the store.

My guess is, people use thrift stores as wholesalers then turn around and sell the items for three or four or five times more in yard sales, their own used furniture stores or on Craigslist.

Obviously, the employees of these stores cannot refuse to sell, even though they suspect why the items are being purchased. But maybe Goodwill and The Salvation Army can come up with a way to limit the opportunistic and wholesale buying of these misappropriated donated items. That would be a real service to the poorer folks in our community -- like me.

Judith Randall