The Ellisons and other owners of thrift shops that you interviewed had some very good points. They have developed an enterprise that probably could not be called an enterprise without the professional management for which they are responsible. They built the business. While the charities' percentage may be low in some minds, their gross income is probably higher as a result of these dedicated owners.
These owners built the business by investing their assets and labors. The wealth they have created is not unreasonable, in fact modest, when compared to other American entrepreneurs. What is remarkable is the fact that they have not reaped unconscionable profits by completely and unmercifully exploiting this hidden and unregulated segment of the economy.
Your article has performed a valuable service by bringing the operation of thrift shops to the attention of not only the public at large, but also to those responsible for guiding our charities. While some will demand government regulation of thrift shop enterprises, it is more appropriate for the charities in whose name these businesses are run to establish controls. There is no reason why a charity, even with a totally volunteer board of directors, cannot establish its own guidelines for review and monitoring arrangements with thrift shop operators.