When our warehouse crew was sorting through our latest shipment of expired and overstock online deals, they came across curious packages. The first package was a simple white envelope stuffed to capacity. It did not contain luxury jewelry, bamboo sheets, or bluetooth headphones, but the value of what was inside could not be measured with dollar signs.
Inside of the first package, and two others that we found, were T-shirts, some already worn, some with dates from over 10 years ago. Many documented races, concerts, family reunions, and other important tokens of participation and reminiscence. These were special shirts sent out with the confidence that they would be returned as memorable quilts, each cotton memory woven together with care.
Months passed, and then came the heartbreaking realization that the company responsible for turning the tees into quilts was never going to follow through with their agreement. It’s believed that some of the packages containing these significant shirts were never even opened by the receiving party, contrary to emailed guarantees that the back-ordered quilts were in queue to be completed and shipped out. Those responsible never even saw the pricelessness of clothing that represented magical vacations, exciting athletic events, first days of school, and past loved ones.
Many customers took advantage of promotional coupons the quilting company offered through popular online deal sites. When the company did not deliver (and all but disappeared completely), these deal sites did their best to refund customers their money and return their memories. However hundreds of shirts did not find their ways back to the original senders.
We don’t know exactly how these 3 packages of lost t-shirts found their way into our warehouse, mixed in with the usual inventory we receive from a third-party liquidation company. It could have been due to a change in address or even a misunderstanding on how important these envelopes and boxes were at a previous location. Regardless, our first move was to find the rightful owner of these shirts and make sure they got home.
It was incredible to find a Facebook group of over 500 people that was behind the cause to retrieve lost shirts, most of the members having waited for nearly a year after the quilting fiasco to get their shirts back. The dedication of people like Donna Tilson, one of the administrators of the Facebook group, has already made sure that a majority of the packages have been returned to their rightful owners. Even within a few days of us finding T-shirt packages in our own warehouse, according to the group another 7 packages were shipped back to their original senders, bringing peace of mind to many more families.
The fact that we can help close even just 3 more cases has brought everyone at our store a great amount of joy and hope! I could hear in the voice of Nadya, owner of the first package we found, how grateful and emotional she was just to know that her precious memories were making their ways back to her.
Our hope is that other liquidation stores and companies like ours will be on the lookout for these humble boxes full of T-shirts that someone across the country is missing terribly. In reality, it seemed pretty obvious that after finding these misplaced package, anyone would make an effort to send them back. It’s been surreal learning the depths of loss this quilting incident caused, and reading the hopelessness of those who fear they may never see their shirts again.
We had no idea that these 3 curious boxes were part of something much larger, and want to tell those still searching to stay hopeful for just a little longer now that a new avenue of possibilities has been opened. A big shout-out to our warehouse team for finding the value in these boxes and setting them aside for us to investigate. Also to our shipping department team who have been busy preparing our brand new e-commerce site in time for the holidays. For those with boxes heading their way, we’re sure this is a gift they’ll never forget!