Where do Clearance Items go?

It has happened to all of us. We walk into a store and go directly to the clearance section.  Who knows maybe you find some cute clothes, shoes, make-up brushes, or anything that looks cute in general. There is nothing better than finding an item you've been looking for on clearance.  It's as if the universe wanted you to have it.  Perhaps it did, but haven't you ever wondered how long those items were there? Has it been days, weeks, maybe even months?  What's the amount of time it stays out? What happens to these items if they pass that time limit? Where do they go? 

The golden ticket

If you have never worked in retail, then the whole 'clearance/ red tag ' process is foreign to you.  To summarize it, depending on the store, the workers would usually come in two-three hours before the store usually opens. They have these machines that are similar to the scanners used in the registers, except as these scan the items a red label will be printed out. Usually, these products that get the red label get their first 'markdown,'  it can be because it has been there for over a month now and the corporate office has decided to lower its price. After the various red labels, comes a yellow label meaning that it is the final sale. 

(Image: Lehoarder.com)

Now, depending on the store each of them has a different way of processing these items.  After speaking with a Marshalls employee, the person revealed that Marshalls gathers up all unsold items and destroys them.  " Our manager tells us to gather these products up and take them to the warehouse. In the warehouse, we then put it in this garbage bin that no one has access to," said the employee. The garbage bin the employee mentioned is only accessible if you take an elevator down, but even then that is risky if you don't know your way.  She adds that she has never been down there, only managers are allowed there with an assistant. " I want to say that they donate it, but I think that's highly unlikely since that's where we also throw our boxes and expired foods."

The Tea on local stores

If you say you don't shop at a Dollar Store, which isn't really a dollar, then you're lying, unless of course, you live the Blair Waldorf life. But if you're amongst the middle class, chances are you go in there quite some time. Both Family Dollar and Dollar Tree are owned by the same company. Although each has its own regulations and a different set of rules from each other, however, they both process their merchandise the same way.  "We come in and use a scanner, the scanner lets us know how much its left of and if the tag says '1 cent'  we have to throw it away in the bin," said an employee. The employee who asked for anonymity also mentioned that the merchandise being trashed are completely fine, but that its corporation telling the stores to clear it out and make way for new merchandise.  "Sadly, items such as clothing and toys aren't donated," Said the employee.

What do other major stores do with their items? 


Now, this leaves you wondering 'well what do other big stores do?"  There are some stores that re-sale their items to stores like Marshalls, TJ MAXX, Home Goods, Ross, DDiscount, etc... Other high-end merchandise stores either recycle their shredded merchandise or completely destroy it which goes straight to landfills.

Victoria Secrets, the widely recognized lingerie store that attracts tourist from other countries, for example, has a different take.  A current employee at a Victoria Secret store, who asked to reframe from being mentioned, spoke to me on how they process their merchandise. 

"Most stores send their unsold clothes to a thrift store or they donate them. Victoria Secrets is a luxury store, for that same reason, they don't want anyone selling their products or copying their ideas," said B. She also mentioned that each item is only on the store for a year, after that they are sent to the warehouse. She also wanted to add that "every retail company works differently. At VS, our damaged goods have their own process and then thrown away."