Friday 5: Charity Shop Pet Peeves

charityshopI’m a massive advocate of charity shopping and there’s little I love as much as a secondhand bargain, but charity shops are changing – and not always for the better.  Here are a few of the things that really make me cross about charity shops.

1.   The ‘Mary Portas Effect’

Since Ms Portas’ TV show on charity shops, far too many of my local charity shops have been refurbed and are now full of laminate flooring, matching wooden coat hangers and colour co-ordinated clothing.   All wrong.  I like my charity shops to be untidy little gloryholes, full of mismatched higgledy piggledy stock and a slight musty smell.    Call me old-fashioned.

2.   Overpricing

Just because you have laminate flooring and matching wooden coat hangers etc (see above), does not mean a stained, fraying Primark t-shirt is worth £8, particularly when it was probably only £6 when it was new.  And a secondhand paperback for £4?  There are certain charity shops (yes, I ‘m looking at you, Cancer Research) that I won’t even set foot in these days because of their silly pricing.

3.    Brand New Stock

The likes of Oxfam (and others) seem to have more brand new stock (albeit ethically sourced) these days than second hand.  And the brand new stuff always seems expensive to me.

4.   Rude Staff

Let me qualify this point by saying that the majority of staff (both paid and unpaid) in my local shops are just lovely.  There are the odd few, however, who are awful.  I was in my local Mare & Foal shop a couple of weeks ago, mooching around for five minutes or so, and the whole time I was there, the manager and a volunteer staff member were standing at the cash desk, loudly gossiping about another member of staff.  This member of staff’s name was mentioned more than once, and the accusations they were making were toe-curling.  When I approached the desk to pay for the item I was buying, they continued their conversation while serving me, not even bothering to speak to me or make eye contact.  Just awful.

5.  Dirty/Stained Clothing

Now I’m not averse to picking up something with a small mark or two on it and taking a flyer on buying it if I really like it and think I can get the stains out.  But more and more lately, I’ve come across pieces of clothing with big crusty stains on them that turn even my stomach.  Either chuck ’em out or wash ’em, but don’t just shove ’em on a hanger and expect to sell ’em.  Yuck.

Do you like charity shopping?  Or does buying other people’s cast-offs make you feel a bit icky?


14 thoughts on “Friday 5: Charity Shop Pet Peeves

  1. I was bought up on jumble sales and used charity shops as a student but slowly over the years I have moved away from them, I guess I could just order new from next so I did. We recently went in one for a textiles project of my daughters and I couldn’t help but notice the value of some of the things, I might stage a revival. I too have noticed the silly prices in the last decade and that is just not the point at all.

  2. Round these parts they are still very much of the cheap and cheerful variety.
    Yesterday the Cancer Research Clearance shop was “buy one get one free” and when nothing’s over a £1 it’s well worth wading through the dross.
    Yes, stuff is often stained and a bit tatty but I’m handy with a needle and I’ve yet to encounter any stain that isn’t removed by Poundland’s amazing stain remover.
    I can’t say I’ve encountered much rudeness from the staff, most of them know us by name and save vintage donations for us. They’re generally mad but friendly.
    I wouldn’t shop many other way. x

  3. Hi my dear! Loved this post as an avid charity shopper I do agree with some of your points, especially overpricing and the Mary Portas effect too! I’m like you, I love a good old rummage, clean and reasonably priced stock and staff that yes, do not gossip about others in their shop- I’ve seen it too and it’s just terrible. Have a good weekend. Xx

  4. How I agree with you Caroline about charity shops going all Mary Portas. They should be higgledy piggledy, so’s you can have a proper rummage and I’m not averse to a musty smell either. As for silly prices, BHF are the worst offenders hereabouts but I have seen large paperbacks priced at £1.99 in one CR branch. Haven’t encountered any rude staff yet, not in charity shops anyway! Have still not got around to getting a wordpress a/c to read your Car Booty posts but haven’t forgotten…honest!

  5. I am in purge mode at the moment. Nothing new is coming in to the house unless it is to dress it to sell.

    One amazing buy years ago was a push chair with the car seat and the base. NEVER been used a lady bought it as she thought she might see her new grandchild. had all the gubbins and a bedroom decorated and her daughter in law didn’t let her see the baby. She was in the shop when I bought it, taking a cot, all the bedding and what looked like 6 years of chirstmas presents. She said the baby was at school so she was told by her husband to get rid.

    Sadest thing I ever saw.

    £50 the lot. Bargain My niece was so happy

    I don’t buy much at all any more.

  6. Love charity shops and agree that some have really overpriced themselves, as for the staff you encountered,how rude! I have had many bargains over the years and have never come across dirty clothes,my local British Heart Foundation shop is very expensive and charge the earth for books. Give me an old style charity shop where you can have a good old rummage any day. X Dawn

  7. You took the words right out of my mouth! I was just going to blog about this very subject after spotting some rather naff 1980’s Sanderson curtain fabric in my local hospice shop for £75, yes you did read that correctly! Thankfully, we have a few much cheaper shops to balance it out. Mary Portas doesn’t know what she is talking about as far as charity shops go, they are not mainstream or high street and are never going to be everyone’s cup of tea so she should have left well alone. I now help out in one of the old style higgledy piggledy shops and they pile it high and sell it cheap. You never know what you will find, everyone walks out with a purchase, and the charity gets a regular flow of money!

  8. I do miss the old disorganised jumble of slightly musty stuff – there’s only a couple I can think of round us that are still like that. More of a business feel about the others, and agree about the crazy pricing! A few times I’ve been close to saying I could get something they’re selling cheaper new. Still bargains to be had, but seem fewer and further between….though have had some successes recently that I must get on and write about!
    (btw wondered if I could see your car booty posts?) x

  9. We have a mix of charity shops here – the posh ones for big charities with silly prices, and the little local issues ones that are stuffed full of things to rummage through. Generally the staff are lovely, dedicated to doing their bit to help the less fortunate.
    I was once lectured (at length) by a friend because I had bought some new clothes. She insisted that we should all buy our clothes from charity shoops. I pointed out that charity shops need people like me who buy new clothes, then eventually donate them – otherwise the charity shops would run out of clothes!

  10. I couldn’t agree with you more on everything in this post. My favourite charity shops are, or were the ones where you had to rummage around, could find great bargains and didn’t know when a treasure would be uncovered. I can’t bear the stores where they have new stuff or you pick up Primark clothing for more than it probably was at the time of purchasing new!


  11. I agree with all the comments about charity shops getting above themselves, some of the prices are ridiculous. I love the 50p and £1 bargain buckets, great for t shirts and I once found a pair of black linen trousers in there that I’m still wearing. As for the staff, some are great but a friend of mine took things from her deceased Mum’s house to a local charity shop and watched horrified as the assistant went through the bag in full view of everyone dropping some items immediately into the bin.

  12. You totally put all the facts into words. Even it is at the end money goes for charity, somehow it should be reasonable price as well.

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