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Charity Shops 2012

From Jenny B

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

I know there have been various debates around this subject over the years, but today I was reminded of our charity shops for several reasons.

i) Charity shops are apparently losing out to companies that will pay for garments to then sell on.

ii) Another Charity Shop has opened in Hebden Bridge (Forget me Not Trust)

iii) I spent an hour browsing several of our charity shops today. I have always given to charity shops, I preferred the Overgate one, its central and for a good cause. I dont think I would want to sell my clothes at around 50p a kilo you would need a lot to make any real money, but . . . there is a recession on and if times are hard I can see that people will.

Although the new charity shop is a good cause, did we really need another if the ones we have are 'struggling'?

Thirdly, I found all of the shops I went in today were sparsely stocked with used goods, many were selling new goods which seems to be a bit bizarre, especially as they weren't low priced goods.

The prices in all the shops were far too high for used goods. A bertie bus toy but well used and clearly pre-loved for £1.99; very well worn paperbacks for £2; A ladies top £5.10; and a cheap looking handbag for £8.

Now, I know it's for charity and its not the done thing to complain about pricing but if each of those goods had been priced more reasonably and reflective of their condition, I would have purchased some of them. I didn't buy any.

The shops were busy with browsers, it is half term too, but that seemed to be it. Not many buying and lots of mutters of how expensive things were.

I really think that with the belt tightening that is going on, that charity shops need to rethink their pricing. I can buy 3 new clean and germ-free paperbacks for £5 at a discount book store. I can get new toys in the sales for £2 and new t shirt from M&S for around a £5.

To be honest I can't really afford to have the sort of principles that allow me to bask in the haze of self nobility by supporting a good cause, and saving the earth at the same time.

I want to support Charity Shops but not by feeling ripped off.
It will be interesting to hear other views

From Lizzie D

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

I browse charity shops a lot, I have a bit of time to spare to do that so I think I am well enough placed to agree that most of them if not all, are too expensive. I politely told the assistant in one of our charity shops that I thought an item was overpriced, and I was told in no uncertain terms that in 'refusing' to pay the price quoted, I was virtually snatching food from the mouths of starving children.

The state of some of the clothing on sale is awful, washed up bobbly jumpers and bagy t- shirts for £4 and £5 an item.

And like jenny I have regularly heard people complaining about the prices charged for shabby goods.

The selling of new goods is another one that gets my goat. We have enough shops selling candles, wooden ornaments etc and who pay higher rents to do so.

I know many staff are volunteers but the move to now have paid managers in most charity shops seems to have happened at the same tim the hefty price increases we see in these shops.

By the way if you go out of Hebden Bridge you can see a big difference in prices. In one in King Cross for example you can get 3 paperbacks for a £1. There rises another debate Are the Hebden Bridge charity shops ovr-pricing because its Hebden Bridge?

From Isla W

Thursday, 16 February 2012

I agree the charity shops in Halifax, Kings Cross and Todmorden offer much better value, and I know many that have special trips out to these instead of shopping in Hebden. The Overgate shop increased its prices as the new manager started a couple of years ago as they have to cover her wage. You can get books cheaper in pound shops, online, discount stores and often in supermarket deals. They also throw away a lot of sell-able stuff and like most business's have to pay to have the rubbish removed.

From Kate Westall-Ives

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Re the comment that some shops sell the same new goods as charity shops but pay higher rents. Charity shops do not get discounts on rents. Landlords don't drop their prices for charities.

As for the price of second hand books, it I pay £6.99 for a new paperback then donate it to a charity shop once I've read it, I would expect them to charge at least £2.00 for it. It would be well worth £2.00 and the charity concerned would be losing money if it were sold for just 50p.

If charity shops are struggling for donated stock then they need to maximise whatever stock they do get.

From Lizzie D

Friday, 17 February 2012

Do they also pay full rates? 'Tatty' paperbacks, well used for £2 not second hand. A loss to the charity shop if sold for less? its all profit isn't it? Maybe Kate should sell her books on e-bay and give the cash to charity then if she wants to set the price? This would give them more tnan after staff costs are deducted.

From Jenny B

Friday, 17 February 2012

I take your point Kate about the prices originally paid for items donated. But surely if goods are donated it is all profit? I would have no objection to paying £2 for a good quality 2nd hand book but very well used ones should be less. You can buy 2 chart paperbacks for £7 in Tesco.

I once paid £1.50 for a book from a charity shop that had a sticker from another charity shop under it for £1.

My points were that the quality of goods does not often match the price charged. The majority of items are overpriced to meet the costs of employing paid staff. How much of say your £2 book sale, does the charity actually receive anyway?

If the shops are paying full rent then certainly in Hebden their overheads are high. But the ones in Halifax town centre must pay a similar rent but prices are lower.

In respect of them selling new goods, I am fairly sure that charity shops receive rate relief at least which to me, is unfair to other shops selling similar goods and trying to make a living.

Taking away the moral concerns around production of clothes for stores like Primark, you can dress a child for a few pounds. In this economic climate, people are not going to pay £3-£4 for a maybe 4th hand washed up t-shirt for their 2 year old in a charity shop.

Charity shops used to be the place to get a bargain whilst supporting a good cause. The ones in Hebden no longer have bargains and one wonders how much of the money paid for goods actually goes to the charity.

From Isla W

Friday, 17 February 2012

No one has mentioned the point that many charity shop users are on benefits and low incomes and shop there because they cannot afford new goods. I know people who are in this position and struggle to afford the recent price increases in Hebden Bridge.

From Jack Hughes

Friday, 17 February 2012

I think that the main point that needs to be made here is that all charities are out to make as much money for their respective causes as possible. Since shop rents in the town are high for the area, it stands to reason that pricing policies will reflect this (the Greyhound Rescue shop on Valley Road remains affordable, but this seems to be something of an exception).

We should not forget that Hebden Bridge is full of moneyed professionals with cash to burn; this is obviously why shoddy secondhand goods are frequently offered at eyewatering prices, presumably in order to assuage liberal guilt.

If you can't afford to shop in Hebden Bridge's charity outlets, then please just stop complaining, buy a day ticket for the bus, and visit the excellent shops in Sowerby Bridge, Todmorden, King Cross &c. If you combined it with a supermarket trip or two, you could save a fortune! Alternatively, one well-known HB charity shop regularly throws out perfectly saleable/ recyclable clobber - there for the taking, if you don't mind rooting in the green bin.

From Kate Westall-Ives

Friday, 17 February 2012

To those people on this thread complaining about charity shops in Hebden, I suggest if you don't like the way they are run, get off your backsides and go and be a volunteer in one. I'm sure they will value your contribution and you will appreciate what a great job they do.

From Susan Press

Monday, 20 February 2012

Since 2005 I have worked as a volunteer in the Oxfam shop on Market Street and I think our pricing is fair. Yes we have a paid manager but she works only part-time and her input since arriving a couple of months ago has seen our income soar. Managers are there because they have the marketing expertise to maximise money raised and also raise footfall.They earn barely more than minimum wage.

We don't sell tatty books - most are either £1.99 or £2.99 for excellent paperbacks or hardbacks. The ones we can's sell either go to Bookbarn for recycling on the internet and the really scuzzy ones are sent to waste merchants for paper recycling.

Likewise with clothes. All the items on shop floor are steam-cleaned and in good condition. The ones that aren't don't go on sale but nothing is thrown away and clothes are priced on a scale according to the makers of the goods. You can't charge the same for a Hobbs/ French Connection item as for mainstream High Street stuff like New Look or Next - and we don't. But there is something for everyone.

All the volunteers donate their time freely and work really hard. The number of new goods we sell have actually decreased as people do want bargains - and I agree some of the Fairtrade toiletries etc are expensive. This is being looked at. We never have a problem seling chocolate! Oxfam always needs bric a brac / CDs/ clothes/ books. Every donation is gladly received and if things don't sell within a certain period we now send them to another Oxfam instead of to waste merchants.

From Elizabeth Ogborn

Monday, 20 February 2012

I'd like to take issue with Susan. 18 months ago I donated ten or more sacks of mainly classic hardbacks to Oxfam. I parked round the back and helped the elderly ladies up the stairs with them.

No-one thanked me for the donation. No-one thanked me for getting it up the stairs.

Some of those books were rather valuable, with interesting bookplates. And I now wish I had not discarded them in the first place.

The one charity shop that gets my custom is the Greyhounds on Valley Road. They are great for donations and very well priced too.

From David Telford

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Charity shops have their place but they should keep their place.

Some charity shops do sell new items and exploit the cheap labour, free rates and VAT advantage over shops that provide a livelihood to the entrepreneur and their employees.

Whilst not in Hebden Bridge but I have a client who was struggling with the rents and hoped to renegotiate terms as retail demand had fallen off. The landlord told her to put up or shut up because a charity had just taken over the two spare units on the parade and of course they can afford to pay £4500 more because of the savings in rates. My client struggled with a dilemma, was she going to work another year for basically nothing and hope the economy picks up, or pack in. She had to sack her two employees and struggle on but never mind, at least the charity is able to do all it's great work in some far-away land.

Some charities do a grand job but let's level the playing field, either play to the same tax regimes or change the way retail is taxed by removing business rates altogether.

From Susan Press

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Hi Elizabeth, I can only say we now have a new manager, we were desperately short of volunteers until recently - and 18 months ago there were other staffing issues which have now been resolved. Sorry if you've had a bad experience.

Hope you'll give Oxfam another chance . . . like most people in hebden I mooch round all the charity shops. And they all have something to offer

From Jenny B

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Mr Telford, I don't often agree with you, but at least you have restarted a debate instead of offering criticism of those that may resent being ripped off or yes, too hard up to pay inflated prices. They may of course also be far too busy or less able to volunteer their time to charity just now too. But not everyone sees it that way do they?

On another note, as anyone counted how many hairdressers we have in Hebden?

From David Telford

Thursday, 23 February 2012

It's worth bearing in mind whilst UK uncut are so keen to raise awareness of such issues. One of the leading charity shops in the UK avoids in excess of £2m business rates that any normal shop would contribute. That's £2m taken from the treasury and witheld from spending on improving the infrastructure, public services etc.

From Allen Keep

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Or witheld from buying arms, bailing out the bankers or dismantling the NHS.

Instead, the money is going directly to the poorest, most elderly, children in need, the homeless or perhaps the dying -perhaps even to unfortunate souls "in a land far far away".

Sounds good.

Let me know the name of the charity David. I'll get my cheque book.

From Paul Clarke

Saturday, 25 February 2012

I was surprised that the usually perceptive Jenny B is confused about the concept of charity shops as the clue is in the name.

It was surprising as I thought everyone knew charity shops sold decent quality second hand goods at knockdown prices to help the needy here and aboard.

I was also sad to hear her say that HB charity shops are more expensive than elsewhere. I travel a lot across the UK and as a big fan of charity shops I pop into them whenever I have downtime. I can tell Jenny based on that experience over many years - from Portsmouth to Glasgow - that HB charity shops are no more expensive than anywhere else.

In fact they are far cheaper than most city centre branches which obviously have more expensive rents.

I have no problem paying two quid for a second hand copy of The Slap or September that is is two thirds the price of Waterstones and certainly cheaper than even buying online. For Jenny's info I got a brill unworn Le Coq Sportif parka for £15 from HB Age UK and a good quality Paul Smith t-shirt from HB Oxfam for £4..hardly rip offs. I buy CDS every week from Oxfam and at £1.99 for pristine, often rare albums is hardly extortionate.

To be honest I don't mind paying a premium to help others and there is no sadder sight than watching people try to haggle in charity shops...you don't do it in Tesco/Asda so why do it in a charity shop?

Good bargain hunting in charity shops requires a lot of effort rather than merely moaning about the prices. The uber bargains are there but perhaps Jenny might be better just going to Tesco or Primark rather getting stressed by the so called massive prices in our local charity shops.

As for Free Market Trelford he might consider that the alledged £2m 'lost' in charity shop taxes is more than offset by the services provided by the charities 'ripping off' Gideon Osborne. The wonderful work of McMillan Nurses - which should be provided by the state - is one example that comes to mind.

From Jenny B

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Paul, you among with others are missing my point, if you reread the 1st post, I was querying why prices are so high for very tatty goods, and why stock is generally scruffy and well worn.

I also asked for peoples views on the move towards businesses buying unwanted clothes for cash. Of course I have a perception of value, I wouldnt expect to pay 50p for a good quality book, but increasingly the books are exceptionally well worn and tatty for £2. I prefer to buy 2 or 3 new for between £5 and £7 and pass these on to a charity shop. If the books had cost me £7 each I wouldnt care what they sold for as it is all profit.

I wouldnt haggle, but I would expect a fair price tag for the item. Is that wrong? Should I be willing to pay more because it is for charity? Some people shop at John Lewis others at Primark, having a low income doesn't give you that choice. So your examples of bargains are only really bargains to you, because you can afford them.

The other issue is that having paid staff is what is costing charities money, and the trend of selling new goods is going against what you yourself, say charities were set up to do and in my view it is unfair to local businesses who sell similar items eg fair trade chocolate, and pay full rates. So instead of people telling me to get off my backside and work in Oxfam or go to a cheaper area or shop at Primark, is everyone too moneyed and/or blinkered to see my points?

From Jack Hughes

Monday, 27 February 2012

I would just like to say how pleased I am that Oxfam have recently decided to withdraw from the Government's odious workfare scheme. If, as a long-term 'jobless' person, I were to be forcibly pushed into an unpaid 'volunteering' job (see www.boycottworkfare.org for more details) I would personally prefer to work for a place that could be bothered to recycle its surplus cardboard, rather than send it to landfill.

From David Telford

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Paul & Allen, I made it very clear that I thought Charity shops do have a role & place. Not everyone can afford new and people also like to support their chosen causes n supporting that particualr shop, that is fine.

The issue I have is that charity shops IMHO cross the line from taking a shop that would otherwise be empty and providing a useful service to the community to using their tax status to crowd-out commercial business which is not what was intended.

Allen: Sadly we don't get to chose where our taxes are spent, whilst you may have a problem with taxation being used for "buying arms" or "bailing out the bankers" others may have a problem with over-generous pension provision in the public services etc etc. The government makes these public good decisions on our behalf and the key (you appear to agree with) is to minimise the taxation levels so that we the individual can make our utilitarian spending decisions ourselves through the free-market.

Finally Jack: I'm not at all happy that another potential employer has felt forced out of the excellent workfare scheme. It's all very well saying it's unfair but how do you suggest we get young people into the workplace? An example for you is my nephew was forced to do 4 weeks work with Boots last Autumn. He finished his stint & a few days later he was invited to work up to Christmas. Boots, understandably didn't have a role for him after Christmas but this month they contacted him again and have now put him on a management training scheme on a full-time salary. He'd not have got a looking without that "unpaid" four weeks work experience. It's all very well to be against the plans but it's a bit rich if you are not the one who is desperate to get that chance.


From Allen Keep

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Apologies in advance for those who want to continue a discussion about charity shops - and perhaps we can take a different discussion elsewhere on the forum but I simply can't let David Telford's latest outburst go unchallenged - even if that is probably the far more sensible option (in passing though I wonder whether having seen his latest diatribe Jenny B still finds David a suitable bedfellow?)

I will also ignore, as I do with a lot of what David says (for my own sanity as much as anything else), the usual snide attempts at provocation, the strange formulations ("public good decisions"?) and, in this case, a rather bizarre attempt to characterise what I have been saying here as agreeing with free market/ utilitarian ideology (in your dreams David).

What I can't ignore is the Telford endorsement for the "excellent" workfare scheme. Happily it seems, few share his view as a storm of protest has already had the coalition backtracking and dropping the penalty for non- attendance.

But even before the protests gathered critical momentum it was too much for many employers such as Tesco (marxist/leninist) to stomach. Having to present an image of corporate responsibility while engaging with a scheme that forces the young unemployed to work for, er, precisely nothing ("every little helps?") wasn't good for business apparently.

Others have taken a more principled stand. It appears that many feel there is just something not quite right in making people do a day's work and then not paying them anything – an old fashioned view I accept.
Much better of course for enlightened companies like Boots to help the desperate out by allowing them to work for no wage at all – what else could we do with the unfortunate unemployed? Paying them would seem a little "over generous" in the current climate, no? These are austere times.

Well, let's look at Boots who have been so kind to David's desperate nephew. The much loved family chemist from Nottingham was taken over at the height of the banking boom by Alliance - supported by a private equity concern who raised the capital by borrowing from the banks (who were falling over themselves at the time to fund such adventures). In short, this was the kind of debt financed, unregulated and irresponsible activity which precipitated the crisis in banks such as HBOS.

The result, as we know, was massive bail outs at extraordinary cost to the taxpayer, economic recession and now, as a result, cuts to services and wages, increased unemployment (especially amongst youth – to which the "workfare" scheme is a response) and the coalition austerity measures much admired by David.

Boots however, under the guidance of Adam Hornby (previously of HBOS where he was disgraced and discredited following their collapse), have done rather well. Profits posted in May 2011 topped £1billion for the first time in Boots' history (not sure how much of this figure went to charitable causes).

Profits were helped by the decision to register Boots to a PO Box in Switzerland (which enabled them to avoid around £100m in corporation tax rather than it being paid into the treasury to reduce the deficit or finance public good decisions) and Boot's ability, under British law, to offset the interest it pays in loans (considerable as the takeover was based on one hell of a lot of debt to the banks) against, wait for it, tax!
Nice job - one of Britain's major contributors to the public take of the government saw it's tax bill plummet while it's private profits soared. Meanwhile, the unfortunate Mr. Hornby (basic salary £850K) resigned suddenly last summer (as he was really stressed). Boots gave him a golden handshake of £2.4 million. This included a £475,000 fee not to work for anyone else.

And there you have it. £475k as an incentive not to work for Adam Hornby and nothing for David's nephew (and anyone else thrown on the scrap heap at a young age) as an incentive to work.

Market capitalism, the system David worships and would have us all kneel to is about corporate greed and exploitation. It's immoral, inhumane and unjust. The workfare scheme is as disgusting as the system that spawned it and the government that introduced it.

From Anna A

Friday, 2 March 2012

It seems a little irrelevant at this point in the discussion, but Please can i just add that Oxfam do not send their waste cardboard to landfill but it does go to be recycled. we work really hard to get as much 'stuff' that can be recycled, recycled. so much more good goes on inside these shops than perhaps meets the eye!

From Ruth F

Saturday, 3 March 2012

I've volunteered in charity shops for a number of years, and for different charities across 4 towns in the north/northwest.

Clearly charity shops work well enough for many people, as they are making enough sales to stay open.

Levels of recycling and reuse, quality control of stock going out on the shop floor and consistency of pricing do vary. But customers know this, they know the shops where they're likely to get a cheap bargain (for the price of rummaging through a lot of tat) or where they will pay a fairer price for well sorted, carefully priced items.

Frankly, and having had occasions when people have come in and had a go at me, as a lone volunteer on the shop floor, about their grumps about how charity shops work, my take is if you don't like them then stay away. Don't make a point of having a go at volunteers who are only trying to make a positive difference with their spare time, and don't waste all of our time criticising without knowing the facts. Those paid managers some of you complain about will mostly be very willing to answer your questions if you're polite about it.

It's worth noting that even in the more expensive charity shops canny business people are buying items and reselling them at much higher prices on ebay and the like. And those books you resent paying £2 for, second hand on Amazon will cost you £2.80 in postage before you're even charged for the book.

Charity shops are working, and if you have a valid complaint then get an address for a central manager to write to who can make a difference, don' just meither on forums where you won't change anything but may well upset those who volunteer to try to make the world a better place in some small way.

From Jack Hughes

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Anna, all I can say is that there was a considerable amount of cardboard in the Oxfam refuse bin a week ago, and a bunch of clothes therein a couple of days later. Maybe I should have taken a photograph. I'll assume that I wasn't hallucinating, and will take the, er, charitable view that another business must be dumping these items in Oxfam's bin.

From Ruth F

Monday, 5 March 2012

Jack Hughes: Oxfam in Hebden Bridge is improving fast under our new manager, but it takes time to get all volunteers working to the same procedures and standards. If you can let us know what days this was we have some chance of being able to get the people in question up to speed on current practices.

It's very disheartening for both the manager and the volunteers if people just criticise. We're doing a lot better than we were a few months ago, and a few months from now I bet it will be better yet. Sue has already outlined some of the changes earlier in this thread.

It's worth saying that most items that end up in our bin now are *not* safe for use, so those who still raid the bins should be extremely careful. It's unfortunate that a percentage of what is donated to us is really not reusable in any way, and in those cases what we're actually doing is disposing of those items on behalf of the very hopeful folk who give them to us anyway!

From Alison Cook

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Just to add to the list of comments made about charity shops. If the building is council owned then more often the rents are lower than private landlords. The overheads in one shop was £28.000 before any monies go to the cause. Rent, Rates, water, refuse, insurance, electric has to be raised. The workers who were paid, were paid the minimal rate

New goods are substandard, end of line, bankrupt stock purchased at a job lot price. Charity shop workers hate the sale of these goods but they are given no option. Dress agencies are on the increase so many people use these agencies first to try and sell their goods before donating to charity. Sand, Hobbs, Nugart, Fat face, White Stuff, Duck and Cover and many other top names could not be sold at the same price as MK1, George, Next etc, but ignorant people who don't know these names will become abusive about the price.

In regard to paid workers. These shops are open 7 days a week. To have these shop run entirely by volunteers 52 weeks in the year is not workable. You have to remember that new younger volunteers who are prepared to commit even half a day per week every week for free is very difficult. They don't look at it as valuable experience to add to their cv's. They don't think that they give themselves a chance to move on to a paid position.

Health and safety plays another role in the decision to employ paid managers and staff. Have you any idea how much a bag of clothes weigh? and you expect elderly volunteers to be able to lift and carry these bags, process these items and run these shops meeting the targets that are set by their head office.

A strong man has difficulty carrying a box of books or crockery yet some of you are questioning the reasons why a younger paid worker should take on this role. There is a law against elder abuse. An elder persons bones are not as strong as a younger person.

Some items are not allowed to be sold due to health and safety regulations. From nursery items to children's cloths with cords. Counterfeit DVD's and CD's and other products.

How many customers do you think trawl these shops looking for bargains to sell on ebay or even their own retro business, be them market stalls, shops and now facebook sell sites. I worked in one for 3 years, never again would I do so due to the rudeness of these customers. The staff in M&S are treated with more respect than charity workers. Some will haggle to get the price down. I have seen them swap tickets on goods to buy them cheaper, even steal goods. Not many people on benefits shop in these shops.We didn't stock the type of items the younger people like to wear.

Everthing in Hebden Bridge is expensive. You can buy a bigger house with gardens in towns 4 miles away compared to the prices here. A cup of tea cost double than in Tod. Unemployment and ethnic communities are more common in Halifax, Keightley, Tod etc, hence the big price difference.

From Dave R

Thursday, 3 May 2012

If you will forgive me saying so Alison, that is quite a tirade. You raise some good valid points and have obviously had the misfortune to have been treated rudely by your customers, but first of all, I would remember that adage that you dont tar everyone with the same brush. After all, you yourself, then call people 'ignorant' for not being able to identify'designer labels' as against cheaper brands. I'm not sure who what fatface is let alone able to decide if I should pay more for one of his second hand t-shirts than I would for a second hand tesco one. maybe charity shops should label goods as 'designer'.

I, and I am sure many other contributors to this debate would never be rude or offensive to staff be they volunteers or paid, charity shops or M&S.

Why do you feel that people on benefits 'don't shop in charity shops'? Are they too pricey for them? what justifies this comment? Do you survery your customers economic situation?

Why do you think that because a cup of coffee costs twice as much in Hebden Bridge you can 'justify' higher charity shop prices? Councils own shops in Halifax as well as Hebden don't they so rents should be the same?

Are you inferring that we have more brass because we live in Hebden so we should pay more? Wouldnt it benefit charity shops to sell at a more reasonable price and sell more goods.

As for the vintage/ e-bay/ market traders etc - does it matter what people do with goods if they have paid you for them? Many charity shops sell goods on ebay themselves dont they?

At the end of the day, people give things to charity shops to raise funds. I would rather you sell a box of my stuff for a £1 per item and it benefit the charity and they buyer than you overcharge and prevent those that need it being able to buy.