I used to love charity shops. Growing up with little money in the family and no job, charity shops were a life saver for me. Finding a good bargain became a sort of game for me. A pair of size 6 petite (Rarest find ever!) Topshop jeans for a fiver or a nice jumper for a couple of quid were my prizes at the end of a good hunt around a few charity shops. Maybe it was because I had so little money or maybe it was the thrill of having to hunt for my purchases but it soon got to the stage where I wouldn’t even consider going into a mainstream shop.
During our time at University, my ex and I came across one of the best finds of our bargain-hunting career. A chance visit to Chester and Wham! Charity shop after shop. I still remember the excitement thinking of all the awesome stuff we were going to find! And we did. This particular time in our lives, we were very into crime novels and boy, did we find crime novels. After a solid week of frantic book-hunting, we counted up our finds. Retail price was going on two hundred pounds for everything we bought yet we paid less than fifty.
So why am I talking about charity shops in such detail? Well, I want to know what happened to times like these. Times where a t-shirt cost a couple of quid rather than 50p under retail price. The other day, I entered one specific charity shop (British Heart Foundation, I’m looking at you) and found a Primark vest top for a fiver. Fair enough except anyone that has been in Primark, ever, knows that their vest tops don’t cost any more than three pounds. Then I began to take a look at a few other items. Fifteen pounds for a pair of jeans with the bottoms all frayed, a dress from Dorothy Perkins for a tenner which I’m sure I remember being sold at seven quid originally.
My point is this: charity shops are charity shops for a reason. Selling second hand goods should mean that the prices reflect this. I think the idea of charity shops are brilliant but when I see items for a higher price or even almost the same price in a charity shop than in a shop where I can buy it brand new, I’m clearly not going to buy it.
Now, I am aware that this doesn’t happen everywhere- there’s a St Christopher’s Hospice shop across the road from me which always sells decent quality items for a fair price, but here’s the thing: some charity shops are shooting themselves in the foot. They’re also taking the piss out of the customer and the people who donate their items.
People who donate to charity shops do so with the faith that they are helping a charity. If the shop is pricing clothes too highly, they won’t sell them and in turn they are losing money, business and donations or they will sell them but they have duped their customers out of money. When the customers become aware of this, they will most likely make an effort to avoid a repeat of this.
I don’t want to have to keep avoiding certain charity shops because I know I can buy something cheaper elsewhere but living in London and writing for a living means hardly making a living at all.
So this is my plea to all charity shops:
Before you price your items, make an effort to find out their RRP or even which shop they come from. Charity shops aren’t meant to take us for all we’re worth, they’re meant to promote kindness and giving within a community whilst making an honest profit from donations.