The near-daily rain showers this summer have umbrellas popping up as colorfully as a well-watered flower garden. When the sun comes out, though, those cheerful little shelters often get left behind.
About seven or eight are left each year at Cudos! on Augusta West Parkway, said Manager Paige Norwood.
They are collected in a bucket near the employees’ lockers. Sometimes their owners return to claim
them, but sometimes they don’t.
Norwood said the abandoned umbrellas are used to walk customers or employees to their cars during unexpected downpours.
That’s also what happens to umbrellas left at Bi-Lo on Furys Ferry Road, Manager Tammy Mertins said.
She said her employees found four umbrellas last week, which is about average during a particularly rainy stretch.
Customers leave them in the shopping carts, but sometimes they leave them at the register. A few come back to reclaim them.
“I think they forget where they left them,” she said.
At Bi-Lo, the umbrellas are kept in the store’s lost-and-found for 30 days. They are thrown away after that, Mertins said.
For customers who need to purchase an umbrella, Mertins puts a small display near the door. There are usually about 20 umbrellas on display, and she restocks it every couple of months.
She said employees lose their umbrellas nearly as often as the customers.
“If they come in when it’s raining and they leave when it’s not raining, you can bet they’re going to leave it,” she said.
The abandoned umbrellas run the gamut of quality and price at Bi-Lo, Mertins said, but at Cudos!, they tend to be freebies.
Norwood said the abandoned umbrellas are sometimes promotional items that are given away by large companies, and that people tend not to leave umbrellas that they paid a lot of money for.
For instance, the store sells only Vera Bradley umbrellas that range in price from $30 to $40.
“We’ve never had anybody leave a Vera Bradley one,” she said.