Several years ago, The Guardian Students section published a blog entitled “Dos and don'ts of charity shop shopping“. Written by Nathan Korn - he describes himself on Twitter @nathank7 as ‘Student/treasure hunter’ -, the piece advises:
“Don’t feel guilty about criticising a charity shop for being overpriced. Sure, it's a charity but it's secondhand stuff. Someone has already worn the clothes, danced in them, slept in them, died in them. Someone has opened and used the Magimix rip-off from the late 90s.
The entire point of charity shops is that the stuff they sell is cheap.”
Having heard in recent months a series of complaints about the prices charged by some charity shops, I am inclined to think that charity shop staff should read Korn’s article and take the appropriate action.
An additional and possibly more recent complaint concerns the stock offered for sale by some charity shops. As someone on disability benefits told me recently: “I don’t go in the X charity shop any longer. They don’t cater for people on low incomes any longer but focus only on selling more expensive items.”
The Charity Retail Association explains http://www.charityretail.org.uk/starting-a-charity-shop/ that although running charity shops are “a good method of raising awareness and funds for a charity”; it is a complex process. Most people would wish charities to raise as much money as they can through this method of fundraising.
If charity shops exclude those on low incomes, however, this is hardly a good way to raise awareness about the aims of the charity in question, whatever they may be.
“We always look forward to donations after Christmas,” said Old Town Sue Ryder store manager Michelle Woods. “We even put a sign outside asking for unwanted gifts. Some people keep their unwanted gifts as tombola prizes but they could donate them and they’d go to people who might want them.”