I’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.
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?