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Thrift store chain's practices targeted by WA attorney general's suit

InvestigateWest reporter Francesca Lyman talks with KING 5's Amanda Grace and David Espinosa-Hall about her series on questionable practices by the thrift store chain Value Village.

Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced December 20 that his office was suing Savers LLC, the parent company of thrift stores operated under the Value Village name. The suit alleges that Value Village deceptively portrays itself as a nonprofit organization with the vast majority of donations and sales benefiting other charities.

Two years ago, the nonprofit media organization InvestigateWest published a series of articles about Value Village that brought to light some of the activities that Ferguson's suit seeks to end. The reporter who wrote those stories -- Francesca Lyman -- joined KING 5's Amanda Grace and David Espinosa-Hall to talk about what her reporting found.

Lyman's original series, "Profiting from Thrift," can be found online at www.invw.org.

Savers LLC, the Value Village parent company, issued a statement to KING 5 News stating it is confident it will prevail in court. Provided by Value Village spokesperson Sara Gaugl, the full statement is here:

For 50 years, Value Village has proudly operated as a Washington state-based company that has turned goods donated to charitable organizations into funds that support their missions. Last year alone, we paid nearly $13 million to our nonprofit partners in Washington state, and more than $120 million during the last 10 years, enabling them to provide valuable community services.

We are aware of the Complaint from the Office of the Washington State Attorney General and are reviewing its details. For the last several years, we have addressed questions from the Attorney General's Office and continue to believe their actions are misguided. We are fully compliant with all relevant Washington state laws and are confident this matter will be resolved in our favor. It's unfortunate the Attorney General's Office has continued down this path despite all facts to the contrary.

On December 11, we filed a Federal Complaint against the Washington State Attorney General in response to its unlawful demands that threaten to undermine our ability to support our Washington state charitable partners. We stand by the position and facts established in our Complaint and are proud of our business and the positive impact we make across the state. We have always held ourselves to high standards of transparency, integrity and accountability with our nonprofit partners, their donors and our customers.

We will continue to devote our full energy to supporting communities and serving the best interests of our nonprofit partners and their donors.