Shopping in charity shops – Is there a stigma?

When you walk along most high streets you will find several charity shops. There are those that raise funds for animals, those that raise funds for research, those that raise funds to aid people, those that raise funds for a hospice or hospital. All are for good causes and are usually well supported.

There are many and varied reasons that people donate to charity shops, and equally many and varied reasons why people buy from charity shops.

Let’s take the reasons people donate first. There are those who donate their items because they no longer want or use them and they feel there is life left in them. They feel that they could be used and enjoyed for a few more years by someone else.

There are those who donate their items because they don’t work, are broken or have pieces missing. They would rather do that and let the charity shop dispose of it than take it to the tip or put it in the dustbin themselves. They may feel they are doing someone a favour, but in fact the charity shop ends up having to pay someone to take these items away.

Now let’s take the reasons buy from charity shops. There are those who buy from charity shops because the items are priced at much below usual retail prices. They have a budget to spend on clothes, shoes etc., and find they get good value buying in a charity shop. There are those who buy from charity shops to support their preferred charity. There are those who buy from charity shops to buy upmarket items at a reduced price so they feel and look good but would never admit they bought the items in a charity shop. I am sure there are many more reasons too.

Whatever the reasons, more people will buy from a charity shop that looks clean, is bright and inviting, is laid out properly and has friendly staff.

I saw a news item on the television the other evening explaining how a company is upcycling shop fittings that have been thrown in the skip or are no longer required to refit charity shops. The results are amazing in that shops that were previously cramped and dour looking, are now able to display their items to their best advantage and thus sales have increased. Additionally, the refitted charity shops have reported that their donations are of higher quality now than before the refit.

I would rather go into a bright and cheerful, well laid out shop than one that is crowded, cramped and often smelly.

I can’t see anything wrong with buying second hand clothes or items. I remember there used to be shops in Carnaby Street in the 1960’s where second hand clothes were sold and it was the fashionable thing to do, so it is nothing new. These day, there are, of course, costumes and festival clothes for sale both at festivals and in the surrounding areas to enhance the festival experience.

Is there a stigma attached to buying items from a charity shop? In some people’s eyes yes there definitely is, in other people’s eyes no there isn’t, and of course there are those who don’t know.

The charity shops fill a gap in the market. They occupy what would otherwise be empty shops. They employ a manager and give volunteers the opportunity to learn about retail and also give back to the community.

Do you shop in charity shops? I would love to hear your views on this subject. Get in touch and let me know what you think.

Maggie Currie

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