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For as many years as I care to remember I have been one of the charity shops biggest fans but just lately I have been avoiding them. Only recently I read a very interesting review here on Dooyoo about charity shops and that review was one that made me really stop and think.
In our small town we have five charity shops and four of those are huge, they must have equal floor space to the likes of Dorothy Perkins. Each time you visit the staff get to know your face that little bit better and since we have lived here I have made a few good acquaintances. All of the charity shops are clean and quite stylish and the goods are well presented. But all that tender love and care comes at a price and I have reached the point where I would now rather visit our nearest Asda and buy myself something new from George clothing.
There are two out of the five stores that sell furniture, some of the furniture is in good condition and some of it is far from it but still the price tags are still ridiculously high. All of the stores have large posters on their doors, they need donations of good quality clothing and bric a brac. Some of the stores want volunteers and one shop is asking for a `Man with his own van` who is willing to give up some of his spare time !
A few years ago I was a volunteer and I enjoyed it but now the whole charity thing is big business. The idea of providing clothes, toys, videos and books for young families who are on a tight budget seems to have gone out of the window and it is now `Every man for himself`. I fully understand that the managers of these shops have targets to meet and for the biggest part their hands are tied.
The clothing is all ticketed ( cost of producing these tickets ? ), then it is displayed in the shop, then after a couple of weeks what remains unsold is `racked off` and it either moves onto another branch where it is then re-ticketed ( a second lot of tickets !) or it could even end up just being sold for a pittance to a rag man.
Naturally hanging the clothes in groups according to size is a necessity and colour co-co-ordinating does help even further but is it essential to ticket each and every garment that is sold ? The staff will tell you that it deters shoplifters and I agree with them but maybe there is another way of doing this, say mark the label on the garment rather than waste a ticket and a plastic tag.
In some of the shops the books are affordable yet in others they are marked at one third of their RRP. Now, if you go into the shop with a couple of young children and they take a shine to a book each that could easily cost you £3 and in my opinion that is too much to ask in the current climate.
Of course there is the eternal argument, if they sell the goods for next to nothing then everyone will expect that and their stock will vanish at a rate of knots. But I feel that they need to take stock and just look at the resources that are being wasted . Each time that a resource is wasted it means that the charity concerned will receive less.
Handbags - £8 ? Book prices sky high, if anything has a designer label then it automatically gets priced in line with that and it seems that Next, Marks and Spencer's and a whole host of high street chain stores are now being categorised as designer shops.
I know that Charity shops do not appeal to everyone, I have friends who would not even walk through the doors because of that `funny smell` but in truth there are many who heavily rely on getting a good bargain and we are taking that away from them. Is there any need to have large swish shops that cost an arm and a leg to rent ? As long as the premises comply with the Health and Safety legislation then that should be enough.
Bring back those days when you walked through the door of a charity shop and you rooted until you had found an irresistable bargain ! There could have been a possibility that that so-called bargain was no good to you at all – but it was your very own bargain and no one was going to steal the thrill of the chase away from you.