The world of Charity Shop Shopping is a big thing now. It’s so trendy it is super cool to wear something from a charity shop… ‘vintage’ we call it now and everyone is doing it! It is a win win for everyone and almost every high street has a charity shop on it from big cities to smaller villages. Painswick in Gloucestershire is a little village that has a Longfield Shop which is a hospice nearby in Gloucestershire. It is tucked away in the little winding, pretty lanes. In 2019 the Charity Retail Association estimated that there were around 11,200 charity shops in the UK, 83% in England, 9% in Scotland, 5% in Wales and 3% in Northern Ireland.
When did it start?
It all started in the 19th century when the Salvation Army sold second hand clothes followed by other charities selling clothes during the second world war to raise funds for the war effort, relieving hardship. Oxfam was the first in 1947-48 which was set up in Oxford to raise funds to relieve famine in Nazi occupied Greece. It was after the conflict had ended that charity shops continued to raise money for their parent charities.
What is in it for the Charity?
These days it is a fantastic way to raise brand awareness for the charity. Having a shop, signage, leaflets etc about the charity inside really lifts their profile. Having said that when I have been in our Pied Piper Appeal Charity shop and asked some of the people what the charity is they don’t know! The customers just want good quality clothes that can be sold at a vastly reduced price and the public just want a bargain! They don’t really mind what the charity is! All the clothes are donated to the charity so once the rent, utilities and staffing costs are taken out it is pure profit…. another plus for the charity. We have a street in Cheltenham with about 6 coffee shops on it and 6 charity shops. It is a bustling street with a supermarket, bank, estate agents, butchers, opticians, almost everything you could need but the charity shops and coffee shops create a day out for many! My Mum and Aunties used to make a day of it! Another big win is that as far as possible the goods that are not sold are collected by a company that pays the charity for the goods and sells it for mattress stuffing or it is sent abroad to be resold again. Another important feature is the opportunity for people to volunteer.
The shops provide something worthwhile for people to do and is especially attractive for retired people who still have so much to offer. This can significantly improve the mental health of the volunteers as they feel that they are doing something worthwhile and lets not forget that it is free labour for the charity.
What are the advantages for the customer?
It is endless! You can pick up a good quality item at a massively reduced price. You can find something that is different. It might be a few years old and you are less likely to see someone out and about in the same thing. Many of the people I have asked about why they shop in Charity Shops say that they love a bargain but they also enjoy looking through at the clothes but also all the goods for sale from crockery, bric a brac, books and toys. The customer feels good that they are donating to a charity and it is extremely important that in an age of so much wastage the clothes are being recycled or upcycled and given another lease of life. That is so important as we become more aware of the damage to the planet with an excess of clothing being manufactured and the treatment of staff and wages of people working in sweatshops across the globe.
With so many TV programmes about the planet many women have decided to buy ONLY preloved clothes for a few months or for some, a whole year. I have definitely relooked at my wardrobe and am enjoying adding ‘vintage’ items amongst much fewer new items and when I do buy new I am enquiring into whether it is recycled polyester, cotton or wool and am asking questions about the sustainability involved in the processes.
More Outfits of the Day to come from sustainable fashionable companies soon……