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Topic: thrift stores?  (Read 21884 times)
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« Reply #100 on: October 11, 2006 11:12:48 AM »

i agree with everything you have said vinny....charity shops are way too overpriced now. things which you can pick up in pound shops and primark brand new go for double the retail price in a chirty shop in the hope of making a few more pounds for their charity. if like you've already said they charged less for everything then im pretty sure everything would be sold and the charity would benefit alot more. like you said they are donated free and the price should reflect that. i always thought that chairty shops wasnt just all about the charity they was working for but also for the under privelaged. but like you said it's now cheaper to shop on the high st. it pisses me off so much and like you said oxfam seem to be the worse along with cancer research.....i was looking at a book in there a few weeks ago and just because it said it was made in 1952 they priced it at 8 pounds! MADNESS

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« Reply #101 on: October 16, 2006 08:49:14 AM »

I have the same issue with oxfam and cancer research - they are so over priced it makes me flinch.

In a small town close to me is The Iain Rennie shop and in the past i have found amazing bargins like a red 1940's hat with a little bow on the side for 50p!! But recently i was appauled by the prices they were charging for douvet covers and jackets.

My mum was a manager of a charity shop for a long while and i used to go up and help her sort out bags of clothes etc. Some of the things people dontated were a bit gross though. leggings that were all bobbling in the groin area, shirts and t-shirts with stains of which you really did not want to find out the cause of etc! I am not saying that people should be picky in what they donate but some items are just destined to become dusters!!

I recently was in brighton for the weekend and just popped into the oxfam shop on the high street and was amazed at how lively and up beat it was. I think my boyfriend summed it up nicely with 'wow, it doesnt feel like someone has died in these clothes!'

The bestest charity shop ever is the Shaw Trust! I recently bought a amazingly patterned double douvet cover for 2, 3 balls of tweedy wool for 50p each, 3 pairs of coloured aluminium knitting needles for 50p each, a furry leopard jacket for 3 and a little sheep toy for 50p. And whats more the staff were so friendly and honestly appreciative of my donation. It upsets me that charity shops i am a bit afriad to ask if they have anything out back, in case they are snotty or rude.

anywho i think that my rant is over now!!!

"beauty lies inside eye of another youthful dream"

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« Reply #102 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.

« Reply #103 on: October 21, 2006 08:52:21 AM »

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.

YES!! This is such a big issue! I've been living in Zambia, which used to have a thriving industry producing cotton textiles (chitenges - they rock) - but it's been massively undermined by the western "donations" of clothing & by the US subsidies on their own cotton production.

Anyway, slightly off topic but excited to see someone raise that issue.
« Reply #104 on: October 21, 2006 10:09:31 AM »

it's amazing that there isn't more being made of this situation in the general media, it's terrible that well meaning people making donations to a 'good cause' could unknowingly be contributing to loss of jobs and money throughout the African continent.  i think it might be because it's difficult to criticise 'charity', but also because it's global capitalism in action, which is supposedly "a good thing". 
« Reply #105 on: October 23, 2006 09:06:55 AM »

I live in Liverpool and used to LOVE the huge Oxfam on Bold Street.  I used to go most weeks and picked up hundreds of fantastic vintage & retro clothes and homewares there.  Prices were standardised throughout the shop ie, all tops 1.39, all skirts 1.99 etc etc.  There was always a wide variety of people browsing in there, from elderly people buying their everyday clothes to fashion students searching for vintage one-offs.  Then, last year, the shop got a makeover.  Most of the shop is now devoted to 2nd hand books and videos, with a tiny clothes section stuffed away at the back in a kind of boutique.  Only very expensive and trendy vintage items are stocked - hardly useful to the many elderly customers who used to buy clothes there.  I know the aim of these stores is to make as much money as possible for their cause, but, as someone said in an earlier post, it's sad that people who relied on these places for cheap 2nd hand clothes have been forgotten about.  In my experience, Oxfam was one of the last few charity shops with reasonable prices.

In my area, most charity shops are now over-priced and seem to do very little business.  I have to mention Sue Ryder and Help The Aged though - I've picked up some great vintage household items in there at really low prices.  There is also a shop run by a local animal welfare charity in my area and this is a proper old-fashioned bargain hunter's paradise so perhaps the key is to look for locally owned charity shops that haven't been trendified (yet)!

« Reply #106 on: October 24, 2006 05:00:28 AM »

As I think I have said before where I live there are loads of charity shops and they are becoming ridiculously overpriced. The rent issue is a problem here too and it is really hard for any small new business to get off the ground because of this.

Vinny, thank you for passing that information on about the charity banks - I had not heard about it before but it is very good to know something about what is going on

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« Reply #107 on: October 24, 2006 06:18:52 AM »

i did some more research on the effect our donations have on people within Africa, i really didnt know how bad it was. here's a few articles:

Cast-off UK clothes make Zambia poor

Clothes Line
Charity killing Zambia's textile industry

Salaula has affected textile industry
Beyond Handouts - Rethinking Africa's road to development
Southern voice: the rag trade
World Bank causes Zambia's economic collapse

i would encourage everyone here to only donate their old stuff to their local charities - dont put it in the charity banks!  its shameful that any of our charities think that their cause is more important than an entire continents economy.  most of the articles above are about Zambia but from what I can see this affects much of Africa. 

i dont know what else we can do, apart from spread the word.  this is a multi million pound industry, some western businesses are making an absolute killing on this.  it isnt right.
« Last Edit: October 24, 2006 06:20:51 AM by vinny » THIS ROCKS   Logged
« Reply #108 on: October 24, 2006 08:02:40 AM »

I know what I'm about to say is going to get shot down, but I feel the need to say it.

I work in my local Oxfam, I volunteer almost everyday after I've been to work. I sort the clothes, music, work on the till and recently have been involved in organising a big music event on Oxfams behalf. I've been to Oxfam HQ and a friend of mine who also volunteers went on a trip to the Sudan that Oxfam organised in order to see what the aid workers do over there. This debate over charity shops being too expensive is really starting to grate on me.

Oxfam is not a thrift shop, it doesn't claim to be. We are trying to raise money for children who are dying of AIDS/dehydration/war and a hundred other terrible reasons. How many children do you know who can't go to school because the nearest one isn't within walking distance, are lucky to see one small bowl of rice in a month and the only drinking water they get is from a dirty, muddy puddle? That's what the reality of it is over there.

You can quibble over the price of garments and books - but these are not necessary for your survival - they are *luxuries*. If the way Oxfam priced its goods was completely over the top, you'd be right - we'd make no money, Oxfam would be null and void. But we do sell the vast majority of what we put out there.

As far as clothes being thrown out, anything that isn't awfully soiled or moth-eaten gets sent to 'wastesaver' (they sort clothes we cull from bags and from the shop floor - anything that hasn't sold/won't sell) who send these items to other shops, recycling facilities, homeless shelters. We can't sell/store EVERYTHING we get donated - it'd be impossible! There are no special Oxfam holding facilities/warehouses that we can take from when we need things. Anything that can be saved, is - I know this first-hand because like I said, I'm a clothes sorter.

As for the pricing, regardless of whether we get the clothes donated for free or not - we should get the most fair price for them we can (not just for our charity, but for the person who donated the items). If a Chanel Jacket that once cost 275 is donated in pristine condition, why should we sell it for 3 when there is a customer out there that will appreciate the original value of the item and understand that they're still getting an incredible bargain?? In our shop we don't sell any of the really cheap label brands i.e primark, because we cannot vouch for their methods of manufacturing (sweatshops) - though I understand you may see other Oxfam shops trying to sells of these items...that's due to some of the volunteers not knowing brand labels inside and out - primark for instance don't label themselves as primark, it's usually a different name for each department - if you understand what I mean. We also carry fairly-traded goods such as t-shirts, coffee, tea, chocolate, jewellery etc that send money directly into the pockets of the workers.

At the end of the day, the Oxfam shops are top of all the charity shops - that's a fact, we make the highest profit for our cause because we know that for every person that will argue over the price of an item, there are 20 people who will get that they're still getting something for a fair price and that the money is going to those in DESPERATE need. To a country with no NHS, no real education system, a country where there are 8 year old boys kidnapped from their homes and given ak-47s, women are raped by 'soldiers' in front of their children, and kids are dying not only from diseases that were wiped out here over half a century ago, but from things like diarrhea!

Please remember this next time you go into a charity shop and start getting indignant because that book in great condition that once cost 9.99 is going for 1.99 - if you want the item that badly, you'll buy it regardless. If you want to know the process of taking clothes from donations to putting them on the shop floor and all that goes into it, most shops will happily take you on a tour of the shop and explain things if they have the time.

Don't just make assumptions, I'm tired of trying to justify what we do to people who haven't taken the time to actually find out the facts.

Nolite te bastardes carborundorum
« Reply #109 on: October 24, 2006 10:43:00 AM »

I don't think anyone will shoot you down at all - it is always good to see the many sides of a debate and obviously if you work at Oxfam you are able to provide an insight from that perspective. I am sorry you feel you have to continually justify the work Oxfam does but I think people have always perceived charity shops (whether that is how they have presented themselves or not) as a place to get a bargain. Because of the plethora of cheap consumer goods now flooding the market they no longer have this perception of charity shops (if you see what I mean). And most people just want what they perceive as a good bargain when they go shopping - if they thought about the social and political consequences of their shopping preferences then certain stores with dubious ethical production methods simply wouldn't exist.

I have known a lot of people who have worked in charity shops, including Oxfam, and I am aware of why Oxfam undertake the work they do in order to save and improve lives. But I still stand by my statement that some of the charity shops where I live are ridiculously overpriced and unfortunately this is demonstrated by the fact that most of the stock doesn't move anymore. I would not expect a pristine Chanel jacket for 3 but neither would I expect to pay the literally the same amount for a second hand item that it would cost new (and I mean as a like for like comparison not because it could be bought cheaper at primark) I make charity donations through other avenues and still donate the clothes my toddler has grown out of to certain charity shops because I know that there are people who rely on charity shops to be able to cloth their children and keep them warm because they are living below the poverty line. I also freecycle other items for the same reason.


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