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Charity shops

From John Hartley

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

I have to say I feel somewhat appalled after visiting several so called charity shops over the past few weeks.

Although I fully understand they need to raise money for charity. I can’t help but feel these Charity/thrift stores have somewhere along the way, lost the ethos of what these shops were once about.

I always understood that these stores were intended to raise money for particular charities whilst helping those in the community on low incomes, facing financial difficulties or hardships in general.

Instead, they are pricing those in need, from the local community, out of the market.
£40 for a jacket
£15 for a jumper.
£10-15 for second hand shoes/boots.
A pair of Timberland boots £80!

That’s just a few items of clothing. Looks to me as if greedy eyes light up with excitement when they see a brand name! Then you have household goods.

How can a young couple trying to furnish their first home on a low income afford to pop in to the likes of Overgate and pay £200 for a second hand suite.  £60 for a shelf unit. £30 for a cot. £50 for a table and chairs.

Indeed the list of overpriced donated second hand items in these shops is almost endless.

Considering that we live in a society where people are having their benefits sanctioned with what appears almost vigorous enthusiasm. And working families needing to use food banks.

I just wish these shops would have a bit of a rethink. To allow those with very little, to perhaps afford a little more.

From Ruth F

Thursday, 7 December 2017

As someone who has volunteered in several of Hebden Bridge's charity shops, I can assure you there are good reasons that prices are as they are.  When you say £40 for a jumper, that particular jumper will be a designer or high quality jumper in excellent condition.  You can easily buy a lower quality good condition jumper in HB's charity shops for a fiver or less.

Part of the reason for pricing high quality items at higher prices is to honour the intentions of the person making the donation.  If I donated a high quality item and it sold for £3 I'd feel something was going very wrong -  especially as it would likely be bought by an e-Bay seller and then sold at several times the charity shop price online!  A lot of customers don't realise that there are second hand sellers who visit the charity shops several times each week for items to sell on elsewhere.

The same goes for the furniture shop - if we sold everything really cheap we'd just get dealers buying it and selling it on at vastly increased prices.  The majority of customers to the furniture shop tell us we have beautiful items at reasonable prices.  A few, of course, complain at the same prices. You can't please all of the people all of the time, but the turnover and general gist of comments at that shop shows local people tend to love and support the idea and the actuality.

Hebden Bridge's charity shops are catering to a particular and unique customer demographic, and we are generally aware prices are higher in HB than in Halifax or Keighley - as are many of our customers, who can go for a day charity shopping in a cheaper area if they wish.  The HB shops are very important for the local charities in particular as they tend to bring in more money for the charities than shops in other areas of Calderdale.  You may not like this, but it actually means we are doing something right: people are buying from us, they like the charity and what it stands for, they are making high quality donations of saleable items ...

You mention Overgate Hospice in particular.  It might be useful to know that each hospice is only allowed to have charity shops in its own area, so Overgate can only have shops in Calderdale.  Hebden Bridge is an area that attracts tourists who are often creative types who love the charity shop ethos - as do many local people - and the Hebden Bridge shops naturally want to make the most of this, especially as some of Overgate's shops are in much less well off areas and do not bring in as much funding for the hospice. Hospices do not get NHS funding, and end of life care is expensive to do well.

The charity shops are not trying to exploit the local population, but making the most out of the uniqueness of Hebden Bridge in order to do the most possible for the charitable causes in question.

From Michael Prior

Thursday, 7 December 2017

The only purpose of charity shops is to raise funds for their charity as much as possible from the stock they have.

The charity for which I volunteer, Overgate, has to raise a seven-figure sum annually to survive. It is a scandal that the NHS contributes so little to its costs but that is how care for terminally ill patients is funded in this country.

We price furniture at somewhere between a fifth and a tenth of its retail price which I don't think is excessive for high-quality goods. A three-piece suite for £200 with a new retail price over £2000 is hardly a rip-off. I often think we underprice.

The community service which Overgate provides to the people of Calderdale is fairly obvious and its shops have to focus on keeping that service alive.

From Dave R

Friday, 8 December 2017

Interesting that the response focusses on the 'uniqueness of Hebden Bridge. In that, because we attract tourists we can up the price! Surely this is unkind to tourists as well as locals?

Why should we as locals, pay a premium because of this?

Whilst I appreciate,as does the original poster, the demand for fundraising efforts, to price things higher because e-bayers buy them is again unfair and disloyal to regular local customers.

Personally, I think that if you are pricing for e-bay, you should cut out the middle man and sell it there yourselves.

The fact that a designer jumper worth £50 has been donated means surely that the donor no longer wants this item, thus it is worthless to him/her. Not given  with the intent to make big money so that locals cannot afford the 'nicer things'.

As for the furniture shop, I agree that  the prices are very high, I have looked at items in there and they are priced at far more than in other 'less affluent' areas. 

However, I do understand the need to make money, therefore  to suggest we go and have a day 'charity shopping' in Keighley or Halifax if we want to pay less, is surely going against the principle of making as much money as you can  for your charity? Not to mention, disrespectful to residents of other 'less affluent' towns.

Overall, this is not a very charitable response is it? 

From Tim M

Friday, 8 December 2017

Expensive? Really. I don't recognise this characterisation of Hebden Bridge's charity shops at all. Over the years we've had many items at typical charity shop prices. Charity shops aren't Pondland - things are priced what tehey are worth - and to sell. The 'charity' being supported is the one over the door - not the buying public.

There are of course some charitable services that supply second hand furniture for people on low incomes for example - but these aren't the same thing at all.

From Ruth F

Friday, 8 December 2017

May I also direct people who need free furniture and other items to the Calderdale Recycle forum (which used to be freecycle)

If you join, you can receive emails telling you about what items local people are offering for free (usually you have to arrange collection yourself) and you can post Wanted emails for items you need.

Different services serve different needs in this day and age, and this forum is brilliant at rehoming unwanted items and helping you find what you need at no charge other than your transportation arrangements.

From Jim Brierley

Sunday, 10 December 2017

As one of the dealers mentioned above, a few thoughts...

Charity shops pay nothing for their stock, are rates exempt, and are staffed mostly by volunteers.  They often enjoy reduced rental.  There are eight charity shops in our small town.  

People walk past a minimum of three of them, more usually five or six before they arrive at our shop. By which time they have usually made some sort of purchase somewhere.  Fair enough, but for some reason if they select an item from us, a large proportion will then ask for a (sometimes quite substantial) discount.  This is more often than not on an item priced under twenty pounds.

We have had to pay for this, refurbish or restore where necessary, store, transport and display it, in a shop where we pay rates, rent, power etc.

Often our gross margin is so low that any discount will wipe it out.  Also our pricing can often be lower or similar to the charity shop price.  We are being obliged to keep our prices competitive, on an uneven playing field.

If there was such a high price to be got on Ebay, why aren't we all selling there?  Simply because furniture, antiques and collectibles are not suited to e-commerce, people want to examine stuff personally before they buy.  We very rarely buy anything from any charity shop, let alone here!

Lastly, most charity shops throw away or send large amounts of donated goods, particularly clothing for recycling or even bulk export to developing countries.  This has a well documented negative impact on local economies worldwide.  Whilst acknowledging the vital role of these shops,

I feel that they are now becoming overwhelming, and are failing in their important subsidiary role of a cheap alternative for those in our community whose only alternatives are freecycle or Brighthouse.  

From Delores H

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

The care my mother received at overgate was incredible, but only because of funding. The relief I had being disabled and heavily pregnant, when i couldn't manage alone any longer, that she was being so well cared for those last 3 weeks.

The costs to provide help are massive. When I donate my in perfect condition baby carrier, for example, I hope it sells for over £50  because I can give something back. 

They are not there for the poor they are there for their charity. I live in 'relative poverty' and i appreciate how difficult furnishing and maintaining a home can be. I regularly see sofas and furniture on free cycle and also Facebook is great for getting furniture.