In a local charity shop recently I overheard, not for the first time I might add, someone complaining about the cost of an item for sale. At first thought it sounded mean, after all, who would begrudge money going to a good cause?
It’s a good question though isn’t it. The meanies, the miserable, the manically motivated bargain hunter, the in need, the less well off?
Whatever the answer, while once over a charity shops primary purpose was to raise money for the particular charity they represented, their role has now surely grown to encompass far more. An important part of the high street, they boost new life by attracting a diverse range of shoppers as, like any business worth its salt, they respond to market forces. Some charity shops specialise only in vintage clothing, others books, some charge as much as they dare, others provide bargains and so it goes on. There is something for everyone if you know where to look.
Not to everyone’s taste perhaps, but I bought this in one of the more upmarket charity shops in Cheshire for £20 – it has served me over two weddings and a christening to date.
Or more modestly this t-shirt, £2.50, worn a thousand times, making it somewhere in the region 0.25 of a penny per wear!
It’s not just about clothes – Clock bought for £4.50 from a Penrith Charity shop a number of years ago with the kind proviso I could take it back if it didn’t work (we were very poor at the time). Anyway it did, it still does and I often think about the person who made it and wonder if they ever have imagined it going on to such a place of revered prominence on our mantlepiece.
Let’s not forget either the volunteers who find new purpose, make friends, gain skills in customer service and shop management - according to the Charity Retail Association, over a quarter of a million of volunteers pass through the doors each year - or the service they provide in helping fight waste, reduce landfill and our carbon footprint. In short prolonging our life on this earth.
So, when you think about it, they’re pretty amazing spaces really and dare I say it. Cheap at any price.
Next month: How to reduce plastic use, have fun and save money all at the same time.