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AIBU to think charity shops are there to make money, not provide cheap stuff?

(359 Posts)
TinfoilHattie Mon 17-Apr-17 22:13:12

Cards on the table - I'm a volunteer at a charity shop. One of the large ones which has branches nationwide.

We have one regular "customer" who is nicknamed the Smiling Assassin by the volunteers because she comes in a lot (3 or 4 times a week), smiles and says hello to everyone, then spends the next 5 minutes bitching about the prices. She rarely buys anything. She is of the opinion that our shop is there to provide her with cheap stuff. Cheap as in 50p for practically everything. She is horrified when volunteers explain that we're trying to raise as much as we can for the charity, and the best way of doing that is by pricing realistically - not giving away Jaeger suits or "mother of the bride" type outfits for £1.

She was particularly horrified and commented loudly on a bracelet we have in the cabinet priced at £170 - it's antique, 18 ct gold, emerald and sapphire, and has been valued by a jeweller. We would be daft pricing it at £19.99, even if it is the most expensive item in the shop by a long way

So anyway, what do you think charity shops are there for - raising money or providing cheap things?

(Disclaimer before everyone starts about their local charity shop which prices bobbled Primark tops at £29.99 - mistakes happen, stuff slips through the net. Even if the manager has a "price to sell" policy, she/he isn't going to check each and every item and some items will be priced too high or too low by well-meaning volunteers.).

bionicant Mon 17-Apr-17 22:14:56

Charity shop prices have gone a bit loon lately though

stopfuckingshoutingatme Mon 17-Apr-17 22:15:39

Both 😬

I nearly bought a second hand t shirt the other day but I baulked at £6

I hear you - but the model needs an overhaul as the pricing are a wee bit too high and put people
Off - which is a shame

WorraLiberty Mon 17-Apr-17 22:16:04

She needs this explaining to her 3 or 4 times per week, bitches about the prices and hardly ever buys anything?

I'd ask her to leave the shop tbh.

Hogs Mon 17-Apr-17 22:17:27

Tricky one. Are you ever going to have a punter dropping 200 quid in a charity shop? If you know its value then why not put it to auction? Most folk who shop in charity shops don't have that money to spend.

alltouchedout Mon 17-Apr-17 22:19:11

I think charity shops which overprice end up making less, because people are put off and don't buy anything. I'm often a bit eyebrow raisey in charity shops these days. That said, some things are just valuable and it would be ridiculous not to price them accordingly. I know the aim of a charity shop is to raise funds but tbh I think there is a widespread acceptance that they serve a secondary role of some importance, which is to help people with limited funds buy affordable products.

StillDrivingMeBonkers Mon 17-Apr-17 22:19:25

All national charities I know have a dedicated ebay trader who weeds out anything that is of exceptional value. They also send stuff to auction. I have never seen anything over £20 quid in any charity shop. I do often see over priced bits though - just because you read it's worth A Lot Of Money doesn't mean someone locally will realise its value, hence sending to auction.

FWIW we have in the cabinet priced at £170 - it's antique, 18 ct gold, emerald and sapphire, and has been valued by a jeweller I would not expect to pay full price for a second hand piece.

LilQueenie Mon 17-Apr-17 22:20:03

It works both ways. Charity shops are selling second hand and therefore should be selling at prices that reflect that. Its not ebay with worldwide demographics unless its the charities ebay page being used to sell higher priced items. People who don't have a lot choose to shop in charity shops to get by. Poverty is only worse as the prices go up. Thee are overheads and wages for some but selling cheap

2.99 bobbled primark items are not accidental btw.

senua Mon 17-Apr-17 22:23:24

Of course charity shops are there to "provide cheap stuff"; I'm not going to buy second-hand for the same price as new, am I. The question you are really asking is "how cheap?"
I've gone off charity shops. I think that they are selling all their nice stuff on e-bay and the shops are left with bobbly primani. You have to look long and hard to find anything these days.

Glossolalia Mon 17-Apr-17 22:25:31

The prices need to reflect that you have been given the item for free and that it is second hand.

Not everyone donates stuff to charity with the sole aim of raising money for the charity. I'm sure they would like to think that someone less fortunate would be able to use it. Or at least I do.

Fitzsimmons Mon 17-Apr-17 22:26:04

I used to volunteer at a national charity shop and there was a pricing guide for clothes. Whilst I understand where you are coming from about wanting to raise as much money as possible for the charity, I do think that some of the pricing is too high for the item. As you mention, there are some cases that are mistakenly priced, but there are also cases where the price structure is very, very close to what the item would have cost to buy new, and I think a lot of customers are put off by this.

I also think that charity shops should have a duel role. They should raise money for the charity of course, but they are also in a position to help those on very low incomes afford to buy clothing and other items. A win win for all involved.

PickAChew Mon 17-Apr-17 22:26:50

I thought most of the charity shop chains had ebay accounts for the high price stuff like jewellery.

DSis manages a charity shop and they keep the prices as low as possible because of the area they're in but usually well exceed their weekly targets and are always busy. She agrees that £3 primark or Tesco stuff is ridiculous - she bought herself a nice top for work from Primark itself, the other week, for just £2!

There's one near me that styles itself as a vintage boutique, with hardly anything under a tenner, and I've never seen anyone in there.

sparechange Mon 17-Apr-17 22:27:33

In the olden days, charity shops were dirt cheap (and sold all sorts of junk) so for a lot of people, the 'charitable' act is providing cheap second hands goods

Since the growth of eBay and demise of the high street, a few things have happened
Firstly, people are more accepting of second hand clothes and the market for them has grown. This means charity shops can, and have, put their prices up
Secondly, there has been a massive massive increase in the number of charity shops, which means they have to be more competitive for both donations and customers, so are more overt about where the funds go to encourage people to donate and spend

But obviously there are plenty of people who haven't twigged onto this and still presume their charity function is selling cheap clothes

SexTrainGlue Mon 17-Apr-17 22:28:29

I thought the larger charities sold high-value individual items online these days.

Instasista Mon 17-Apr-17 22:28:36

Honestly? Charity shops are ghee to fufill units with cheap rent and often destroy what could be decent town centres plus sell a load of crap at over priced prices. I never realised how much I disliked them grin they bring a town centre down awfully.

Instasista Mon 17-Apr-17 22:29:54

Sorry there to fulfil units. As in fill up cheap retail units quickly. It's like shop squatting but legal. Quick and cheap

TinfoilHattie Mon 17-Apr-17 22:30:57

We do send some things to the auction house - that's where the bracelet will be off to if we can't sell it in the shop first. I don't think "second hand" really is as much of a factor with jewellery, antique stuff holds its value well and the gold/stone value is the same irrespective of the age of the metal or gem.

Our manager is pretty on the ball and she gets weekly figures broken down by category from the till, and then can compare how our shop is doing compared with other stores in the region. We all know that there is really no point in pricing something up for too much money and it sitting on shelves for weeks - and that doesn't happen as we get SO much stock it stays on the shelves for 3 weeks tops and then it's sent somewhere else. We know what our customers will pay - £5 for a top, £3 for a pair of trousers, anything between £8 and £20 for a coat. In other areas, customers may be happy to pay more or less.

On the other hand, if we priced everything for £1 we might sell the same volume but would make less money.

Smeaton Mon 17-Apr-17 22:33:17

I think, from my experiences, 10 years ago, charity shops were not as they are now. They were looked down in almost. They were where old people shopped and they sold tat.

Nowadays, they seem to have exploded and everyone has cottoned on to getting bargains from there. Unfortunately for the shoppers the charity shops have caught on too and now seem to price things according to label and value etc instead of just putting a £1 on everything.

LilQueenie Mon 17-Apr-17 22:34:04

but does the stuff sent away after 3 weeks sell elsewhere at the same price? If lowering the price made it sell you would make more plus have more room for other items. I would think it could make a little more.

Freshlysqueezed Mon 17-Apr-17 22:35:01

Mmmmm Instasista I can assure you landlords do not reduce rents for charity occupiers. They pay the same rent as any other occupier!

TinfoilHattie Mon 17-Apr-17 22:35:29

The prices need to reflect that you have been given the item for free and that it is second hand

Yes but there is cost associated with processing clothing. Not all items are second-hand either, I'm constantly amazed at the stuff which comes out of a bag still with the tags on it. If I get a brand new jacket which I can see was bought for £30, I'm going to price it for at least £20 - still a third off the new price, but more expensive than second hand.

The chain I work for has an online shop - but we don't use it at our shop as there is simply no-one to manage it. I think it's something that's being looked at. Nothing gets Ebayed, the really good stuff like art and some jewellery goes to auction. 99% of what comes in and is worth selling goes into the shop.

SaucyJack Mon 17-Apr-17 22:36:05

If it's been there for 3 weeks without selling, then it's priced too highly Shirley?

TinfoilHattie Mon 17-Apr-17 22:38:14

Charities get cheap business rates and that's it. They pay full whack for rent, electricity, water, gas, waste disposal etc etc.

StillDrivingMeBonkers Mon 17-Apr-17 22:39:24

If I get a brand new jacket which I can see was bought for £30, I'm going to price it for at least £20 - still a third off the new price, but more expensive than second hand

And I could get it in the stores own sale for 30% of the original price, not 66% as you suggest.

Smeaton Mon 17-Apr-17 22:39:57

Someone once told me,
"Something is only worth what someone is will into pay for it"
So you could have a necklace worth £200 but if noone is willing to pay £200 then it may as well be worthless.

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