Recession hits charity shops

Yesterday I went on my usual lunch time wander – and was shocked at how few clothes there are in the charity shops.  The stress of the recession on thrifting – there are so many of us now going to charity shops – many of whom didn’t go before – and less clothing donations – which means less clothes.  Also you have the swappers, the ‘vintage’ clothing stores and car boot sales (where people can earn money from their own discarded clothes) – this means that there are less and less clothes going into these shops.

Saturday I’m taking a bag of clothes to the two shops I regularly plunder – Cancer Research and British Red Cross.  I owe it to them!  I was saving clothes for a swap but I’ve realised what effect I’m having.  Arghhhhhhhh by trying to be ‘green’ I’m having and adverse effect on charity shops – can a woman never win???? ha ha

Here are a few more links about this ‘crisis’ in charity shops:

Third Sector Report

KnowHow, NonProfit

Also – there have been complaints (can you believe this?) about Oxfam’s book shops.  Oxfam have been accused of almost ‘Tesco’ and (for the States) ‘Walmart’ style targeting of areas.  They open up their stores near other second hand bookshops and the owners of these have seen their profits plummet. This is so sad – yes I support the independent booksellers – however I support a charity over personal profit.  There’s always a problem, someone is always going to suffer when someone else (in this case a charity) profits.  However it can be said that Oxfam are behaving like a large corporation – plunging their shops onto high streets and ‘taking business away’ from the smaller shops.

New York Times article – “Oxfam killed my bookshop”

Inprint – plans to open more stores

I think what is sad is that you’re not going to get ‘gems’ in Oxfam stores.  The send them off to sell on the internet – which means browsing the store isn’t going to turn up anything of wonder.  They’re generally clean and tidy stores – unlike the ‘typical’ British second-hand bookstores – which are generally a health and safety issue to enter (and more the interesting for it). I think Oxfam should be thinking about the overall effect they are having.  They are more than capable of going into areas where there is a lack of second hand book stores and they will be successful.

I personally don’t go into the stores – not out of any principle – just that they’re completely over-priced!  I don’t like Oxfam stores – there’s something too ‘clean and tidy’ about them.  When I go thrifting I want to smell the dust, I want to have to take a hit of my asthma inhaler, I want to HUNT for the bargain.  Too many charity shops are becoming sanitised and pretty – I know that this attracts NEW clients but I miss the ramshackle charity shops of my childhood.

So in my second hand life I’m going to support everyone I can.  The smaller shops, the independent traders and as many charities as I can!

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Recession hits charity shops

  1. Hello My Second Hand Life 🙂
    I’ve read your post with interest but it does seem a tad contradictory, if I’m honest. You don’t go into Oxfam stores – not out of any principle but just the fact that nigh on everything is grossly overpriced…..? This, I believe, *is* a principle, one that many would share and is a constant bone of contention.
    Yes indeed, Oxfam are a noble charity cause but this is negated (for me, at least) by a coupla three facts: One; they set up shop in maximum rent areas, more often than not. A charity shopper or subscription donater is left wondering what proportion of their ‘good deed’ goes toward covering overheads/expenses & what proportion hits the Third World….the RSPCA are quite similar, in terms of their income/expenditure accounts 😦
    Two; their incessant need to overprice everything that comes their way, regardless of how meagre it is, just fills me with so much anger I can’t even say! They seem to have completely done away with the fact that charity shops are somewhere to find something at less than its RRP. I’ve seen some shocking things at shocking prices in my time, but here’s a recent just to hammer the point: There was a Gucci bag in the window for £55 – a steal if it was real, but by the side of the Gucci on the label sat a big fat ‘?’. I have to say I wasn’t sure & certainly wasn’t forking out just on presumption – at worst, not a bad copy but patent t’ain’t my thing. A copy can be bought for £20 – so they weren’t sure, didn’t bother to get any clarification but presumed & marked it up as so. I think that’s just pretty despicable & unnecessary really, but I’m getting bored of myself now, I could go on!
    Do I feel sorry for them in a ‘recession’, which has long ended anyway, no. Not at all, actually.

    • Yes you’re right – it was slightly contradictory!
      I guess they can afford to open their shops in these areas because of the tax breaks they get from the government. They get their stock for free and only pay their managers – so they can’t have many overheads. It’s always the problem with charities – what do they spend their money on?
      As for the Gucci bag – well I guess you take the risk if you want to! Makes me laugh when they sell ‘atmosphere’ (e.g. Primark) clothes for more than Primark sell them for!
      Partly I want to support charities because that is what they are … and to be honest I don’t really choose my charity shops because of the charity, I choose them for what I find in them. But I must admit to never being a fan of Oxfam.

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