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11  U.K. AND IRELAND / ENGLAND / Re: thrift stores? on: October 16, 2006 12:10:55 PM
i found a really interesting old article in the online guardian about charity shops.  theres lots of really crappy stuff that goes on.  for example:

the big charities now operate "charity banks" that are like bottle banks in the car parks of supermarkets, for textiles etc.  But a large number of these banks dont belong to the charity - they belong to private businesses.  The business buys the right to use the bank including the name of the charity - in the guardian example they pay 100 per bank per year.  Then the business owns and collects all the donations put in the bank.

This gets sorted into different "quality" groups, and shipped out to Africa.  Then it is sold in bundles.  Of course this has an effect on the textiles market in Africa - African textiles and clothing businesses cannot compete with the secondhand cheap clothes imported from the UK and have to shut down and jobs are lost, and money flows out of African hands and into UK businesses causing problems in their own economy.

Also, huge amounts of clothes and other textiles donated to charity shops are sold off without even checking whats in them for really small prices to the rag trade where they are recycled into cleaning cloths etc.  The amount they pay is tiny compared to what customers in the shop would pay.

Supermarkets stocking everything you can name has led to all sorts of small independent businesses being forced to shut down.  It's really difficult for new businesses to open because of the cost of rents being through the roof.  But charity shops can afford it because most of their labour is voluntary and they get a number of tax breaks - they actually help drive up the cost of rent.  The voluntary labour seems all well and good until you think about the people working at the top end of the big charities who are on wages that run into the hundreds of thousands.  Something isnt right there. 

The tax breaks the charity shops get are only allowed if a certain percentage of their shop space is secondhand donated goods.  But for the big chains, like Oxfam, their main product is all the fair trade chocolate and the new toys and cards and candles etc.  They are increasingly getting into trouble for breaking these rules and there is concern that what are now big businesses are essentially exploiting these tax breaks whilst doing as little as possible to keep their charity shop status.

What I'm learning from all of this is not to donate to the chain shop charities.  Not even to buy from them.  After learning all of this I'm going to give my stuff, money and time to only local based charities in the future.

12  U.K. AND IRELAND / ENGLAND / Re: Question for all you lovely brits on: October 13, 2006 09:50:03 AM
i wish i could help but i dont know anything about it, sorry.  Undecided
13  U.K. AND IRELAND / ENGLAND / Re: thrift stores? on: October 11, 2006 09:59:40 AM
I recently moved to a larger town so I have seen two sides of charity shops.

In my smaller town there were quite a few and they were all quite expensive. They would chuck out bags and bags of stuff that wasn't "fashionable" enough. They'd just get left in the alley behind the shops.

that's another illustration of class prejudice and snobbishness.  most people who look round charity shops aren't looking for something 'fashionable' or a well known 'quality' labelled item.  they just want something they fit, they like, they can afford.  the idea of chucking out perfectly good stuff because it might not appeal to the 'better class of clientele' the shop is trying to attract makes me really angry.

guaranteed if put out on the shop floor for 50p or less an item it would, almost all of it, go to a bunch of happy customers.  but they wouldnt be the 'right type' of customer for an 'upmarket' "charity" shop, no doubt.
14  KNITTING / Knitalongs / Re: Razor cami knitalong? on: October 11, 2006 08:36:12 AM
carecare, that looks brilliant on you  Cheesy
15  U.K. AND IRELAND / ENGLAND / Re: thrift stores? on: October 11, 2006 08:33:02 AM
i know collectors and dealers are generally seen in poor light as well, but i dont think they are ripping off charity shops either.  (can you rip someone off whilst giving them money for goods that have been freely donated?  its an interesting question)

anyway, it takes a lot of time for dealers to know the stuff they deal in very well, they tend to be collectors themselves extending a hobby into employment, and most of them barely make a living out of it.  i have a friend who deals records and  reconditioned turntables, and sometimes trainers and sunglasses.  he does go round his cities charity shops, as well as car boots and tabletops and record fairs and all of that.  he also goes to shops, distributors and manufacturers he knows are selling off stock.  this is a full time and then some job, working for himself.  he loses money on some of what he buys, he makes money on other stuff, all his sales are auctions on ebay.  he just about makes a living, some weeks are better than others.  he works really hard at it in order to be self employed, because he loves the stuff he trades in, and he knows a lot about it (thirty odd years of hobbying before he started dealing).  i think its questionable for charity shops to be bypassing self employed dealers, by putting records or whatever out at 30, because they've referred to some book for a price.  they dont necessarily know anything about it, what condition it is in, or whatever.  dealers prices reflect all the work they do finding that item, the transport, the hunting through piles of stuff for days and weeks, storage, postage costs, any other overheads.  a record my mate wants a tenner for he has worked hard to bring to the table, AND you can barter the price with him.  if charity shops all decided to use "collectors guides" for pricing their goods there is a real possibility they could put the smaller dealers, like my friend, out of business. 

i think the toys are another example of this, actually, from a different point of view.  someone has most likely looked in their attic and found a bunch of toys from twenty years ago, maybe belonged to their now-grown-up kids.  they know  just as we all do that they may be worth something to a collector, and it really isnt a huge effort to make some brief notes and then use the yellow pages to find a dealer, most of whom will happily come out to see what you've got, make an offer, and take the stuff away for you.  but instead the person has decided to donate it free of charge to the charity shop, most likely so that some other children may get to play with those toys, as well as doing something good for charity.  i would be so angry if i then saw my own donated toys in the shop window for 25plus, collectors prices. no child is going to be getting those.

i think some charity shops (clearly including my local oxfam, although i think all oxfams, as a big chain (rather than a local charity) is one of the worse) also are actively looking for "a better class of customer".  and just that phrase, that idea, makes me so seething angry.  and this is not just reflected in the prices but in the way they talk to their customers.  i know the people who staff these shops are volunteers but that does not mean they are beyond criticism when they are deliberately rude and condescending to the people who come in.  when charity shops price things so that for most of us the items are not affordable, and on top of that they are deliberately rude to those of us who dont look middle class, they are making a statement about the class of customer they want to attract.  a better class of customer...  how charitable that idea isn't.

im sorry i write such long posts.  i see politics in everything, lol. 
16  U.K. AND IRELAND / ENGLAND / Re: thrift stores? on: October 11, 2006 03:00:08 AM
I like a bargain as much as any other girl.... but I don't like people who are high and mighty about essentially ripping off charity shops.

People give their goods and time willingly to help a good cause. What you buy there is likely to cost a lot less than it would new. But if someone offers you a giant box of wool for say 2, why not give them a fiver? You know it's worth more and the people who'll recieve the money need it.


believe it or not, i have done this in the past, i bought a bin liner of stuff for 15 when she originally offered it to me for 6.  i always put extra change, if i have it available, in the little box.  i buy their keyrings and their pinbadges.  i donate my own old stuff.

so really, this isnt a problem of me not being charitable enough.  it is really offensive that they throw away or give away to trading people bagfuls of donated goods, rather than selling it all for 10p each or whatever. it's offensive that generous people donate their stuff and it sits on a shelf gathering dust on the shopfloor because its overpriced, or in a storeroom thats full to the brim and twice the size of the shop floor. 

perhaps it's one of the reasons why freecycle is thriving, lots of people dont want to donate to charity shops and see there stuff just chucked out or denied to the skintest people who shop there.  like secondhand regular t shirts for 5-6, when i can buy something new in h&m for 3-4.  i think it stinks that charity shops like my local oxfam, are donated old toys (like old barbie stuff) and have stuck it all in their window at collectors prices, 25 for a dressing table or whatever.  it has a huge record collection now, and is charging collectors prices fopr those too, it has some in there for 30+.  it isnt a collectors shop, they shouldnt be thinking about what margin of profit thye're making on it, it's CHARITY and the stuff is donated FREE, and a huge number of their customers are SKINT.

I've donatred stuff to them before but I won't again.  I'll haul my stuff across town and give it to a tiny little place where nothing is thrown away, everything is sold, even random old pens and assorted junk for 5p and 10p each.  They are a small local charity that supports children who dont have long to live. 

And actually I think your post, Keletubbie, is incredibly offensive and you should think a bit more before you say stuff like that.  Whilst you're insulting me and people like me for speaking our mind (as if charity is beyond reproach - that's a worrying idea you have btw) we donate our stuff to the shops, we donate our time and stuff we've made to charitable causes and to the community, and we try to spend and donate our money in those places instead of always buying new from the cheapest chains.  So you're very much out of order making attacks on those that voice their opinions.

If you have something to say to defend the way big charities like Oxfam are running their shops, go ahead.  If you can defend the way they throw stuff out without even looking in the bags, the huge store rooms of stuff going unsold, the huge prices and the "collectors" market they're now trying to draw, the way some of the staff are rude and snobby towards some of teh customers - if you can make defenses then go ahead.  just don't bother posting up insults about those who think it stinks, accusing people of ripping off charity by criticising it.  you're out of order. 

and that *sigh* ?  you might want to rethink that attitude too.  it's patronising and rude.  get over yourself.
17  U.K. AND IRELAND / ENGLAND / Re: thrift stores? on: October 10, 2006 02:25:29 AM
it seems to depend very much on area as well.  although oxfam is invariably expensive wherever they are situated.

i went into oxfam to look at what they had and bought some yarn, they charged me 2 for 1 for yarn with labels and 3 for 1 for yarn without, which is pretty good really, less than they usually charge but i think they had a lot they wanted to get rid of.  and 2 of the balls i bought are cream baby cashmerino, complete balls, so a real bargain!  usually they charge around 1 a ball, even for standard acrylic, which i can find close by for 99p a ball new..

whilst i was in ther a woman tried to buy a tub of moisturiser - it was 3 for 1 but she only wanted one.  they told her they couldnt do ti because theyve been given orders not to sell anything for less than 50p.  so she offered 50p and the woman took it but was really ratty and rude about it.  i look at the clothes in there and they are so expensive, and the sheets too.  I've seen a pretty single duvet i fancied for recycling but they wanted 5 for it - for a used single duvet!  crazy.

there are some lovely little places here but you have to really hunt around for them.  i've been in the basement and back rooms of a few charity shops now and actually i think it's quite appalling that so much donated stuff is left sitting around or is thrown away, whilst overpriced items gather dust on the shop floor.

another thing that bothers me is that when i walk round charity shops the customers i see dont look like they have a lot of cash.  theres a lot of old women, and some students, and women like me who have small kids.  we're looking for a secondhand bargain because we're skint.  i couldnt give a damn whether it is a designer item or not, it came in for free, it's most likely going to a good but not affluent home.  better you sell it for 50p than leave it to rot on the shelf, everyones happy.

god this subject has really got me on a rant!
18  Craft Swaps / ARCHIVE OF SWAPS THAT ARE TOTALLY FINISHED / Re: The Labyrinth Movie Swap -- Sign ups October 1, 2006 to October 14, 2006 on: October 08, 2006 09:53:21 AM
how many gifts are we supposed to send for this one?  im trying to figure out if i'll have the time..  i love labyrinth.
19  PURSES, BAGS, WALLETS / Purses, Bags, Wallets: Completed Projects: General / Re: Kodama Tote on: October 07, 2006 11:07:14 AM
That's awesome!  I'm definitely going to try your iron-on idea... perhaps on a bag of some sort Wink

or a plain and boring jacket lining..
20  PURSES, BAGS, WALLETS / Purses, Bags, Wallets: Completed Projects: General / Re: Kodama Tote on: October 06, 2006 02:57:56 PM
i might make another of these for myself, i keep thinking how much i liked it.. Cheesy
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