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Have Charity Shops grown too greedy?
Wake up and smell the Daisies!
Are thrift shoppers getting a fair deal?
So many High street shops have recently closed their doors only to be replaced by a dearth of Charity or ‘Thrift’ shops. Walk down any high street and you will find at least six or seven of them alongside all the high street shops with their boarded up windows.
The question I would like to pose now is whether or not these shops are still providing the same value for money to their customers as they used to?
In every charity shop you will find at least one staff member today whose time is dedicated to scouring the Internet, for prices for the donated goods in order to price them correctly in the shop! This has only resulted in much higher prices, often making it much harder at times for shoppers to justify buying second-hand goods. Some customers have even now begun to question whether or not they might be better off purchasing new or shopping from a local pound shop. Some of these places they feel might give them better value! The perception most customers have about goods which are so kindly donated by members of the public, is that these items were donated and as such, the shops should not expect to make an unhealthy profit from them. Will this greed eventually lead to their downfall and will shoppers begin to move away. Will this greed strangle their profits and will they too find themselves victims of the recession with some of their shops closing too? Perhaps car boots are now about to become the new marketplace for their customers!I
Until now, these shops have played a very important role, perhaps even more so as the recession has struck ever deeper. Are these shops just becoming business machines and have they forgotten their role? Are they are more intent on serving the needs of the charity rather than the people who buy from the shops, is it not true to say that every shop should think of its customers first? They may not realize that many of their customers have charitable needs too! Many of them are living on the breadline! Is it not the time to consider whether or not charity should first begin at home, starting with the very people who have supported these shops for so long? Most of their customers have one very important goal which is to be self-supporting without taking charity. Charity shops have allowed them to do this but if prices are escalated too high their shoppers will certainly decide to move away. Perhaps they will decide to support the many online free ads and classifieds where they neither have to pay listing or final value fees and delivery costs. Here they will have an opportunity to purchase from people who are willing to let them have a bargain because they too are in the same boat!
Having some firsthand experience in working within this environment, it was from the beginning very clear to me that these shops exist only because they are supported by generous folk who either want to help that charity or find it easier to dispose of the items this way. When goods are purchased they are more often than not bought by folk who cannot afford to buy new. Less frequently, they are purchased by people who wish to make a profit from something they have bought from a Charity Shop. If this makes them self-supporting and self-respecting then I can only admire them for it, so much better to be earning a crust instead of taking benefits!
My role working in this environment was different from those who worked in the charity shop because I found myself delivering items of furniture which had been purchased from the shop. This gave me an insight into how much these donated goods meant to the customers. It also gave me a window into the world of the charity shop customer. This is a world which I doubt many of the senior shop managers may not given much thought to. It would be true to say that the people who buy items from charity shops often live in a world filled with poverty and sometimes even extreme deprivation. I have been into homes where I can say without any doubt that the people living in them were in need of far more than just a piece of furniture, in fact, the charity would be better off supporting them than some of the obscure charities they support abroad. Charity shops should perhaps think about directing more of those profits to home and the very folk who have supported them for so long.
Working for a Charity
Is working for a Charity Shop something you would enjoy doing?
© 2012 Sally Gulbrandsen