Free Geek allows limited stream fishing when it supports greater reuse of donated materials. Different departments/areas are free to set their own policies for what/how items are to be sold, if at all. If paid staff authorizes an item "from the back" to be sold, he or she may only do so by bringing the item to the Thrift Store with a Stream-Fishing Form (available at the Donor Desk), complete with staff signature, the name of the purchaser, date and time, and proposed length of time the item should be put on hold. Items may not be available for immediate purchase and Store staff may impose alternate arrangements for storage or pickup. Volunteers forfeit their 20% discount when they stream fish and all items will be priced by Store staff.
Paid staff will direct the purchaser to enter the store through the front door to purchase the item(s). No person may fill a stream-fishing form for an item that he/she intends to purchase. Final sale prices and terms must be approved by a manager or supervisor.
Since Free Geek's inception, volunteers (and staff) have wanted to get things out of the "stream" (total flow of gizmos in, around, and out of the building). Many of these requests are unique to the person asking and not part of an established process of panning from the stream to send to the store. Over time, these requests got to be really inconvenient for coordinators to fulfill. Additionally, a few volunteers were making most of the requests and doing so nearly daily. It has long been recognized that making exceptions is a powerful volunteer retention tool (as it is a way to confer merit and/or status). The idea was to make a system flexible enough to allow exceptions, but rigid enough to discourage regular use. There was a related goal of cutting down on "mommy and daddy" behavior by volunteers (asking multiple staff people for a favor or exception until the volunteer gets the "best" answer). All the power to grant exceptions is in the hands of the coordinator actively working with that volunteer. All the power to price the goods in question are on the store coordinators. By separating those who allow exceptions from those who price the excepted good, there is a robust check against outright corruption (intentionally pricing valuable items well below their value).
This policy was part of a reuse committee decision in early (January) 2009. Sadly, those minutes seem to be missing.
- A production or recycling coordinator can choose to allow a volunteer to purchase a good out of the stream by filling out a Stream Fishing Form (located in an envelope behind the counter in the store). It is *highly recommended* that exceptions are limited to goods that would not normally make it to the store and do not have a high market cost. No coordinator is required to ever make an exception.