My mum has always shopped in charity shops and to be honest as a kid, teenager and young adult, I was quite embarrassed by this but I've decided that people are right when they say you become like your mum! Recently I've become addicted to them! The things with charity shops is that you really do need to have a good rummage through to find things you like but they are usually quite organised and ordered in size order which is helpful - how often are you frustrated in a High St shop because they don't have your size? They also often order their displays by colour or by type of clothing e.g tops or dresses so this makes it easier if you're looking for something in particular. I would say that charity shops aren't always as cheap as you would think and sometimes for things like little tops or T shirts barely beat what you can buy them for new. However, I find them to be a great place to buy Marks and Spencers things that I would never pay full price for. Some people recon that the best place to try charity shops is posh areas where you can get designer clothing but I don't really bother with this. Personally I like little local ones out of town centres because they price their clothes cheaper and I always seem to find some really good little gems in those. What I would say about charity shops is that the customer service and friendliness is usually far superior to other shops - the staff actually have a chat with you! Returns is often a possible and they may only offer an exchange. Anyway if you've not been in one recently, you might just get addicted!
I've always liked looking round charity shops but the ones by me have never had that much in them to interest me. The idea of any charity shop is that you buy second hand clothes, ornaments, furniture, toys and all sorts really. Whatever charity shop you go into you have to sort of question the prices now because with Primark and other cheap shops like that you might get a brand new item cheaper! The good thing about charity shops is that you're buying something you need or want and the charity is getting a cut of the proceeds too, I think that's a much fairer way of giving to charity but it bugs me when you hear of people working in the shops keeping the good stuff back for themselves. It probably happens but I reckon most of the people I've come across working in charity shops wouldn't be bad like that so it's got to be the odd worker. Most charity shops sell mainly clothes and that's not really why I go in because there's hardly anything in my size that I like anyway. I got a coat once from the PDSA shop and was dead pleased with it because you could tell it hadn't been worn because the pockets was still sewn up, I think that's deffo one of my best bargains because it was less than a fiver but would have cost about £40.00 brand new! Actually that wasn't my best bargain, that was when I went into a charity shop in Sutton Coldfield just as they was having some stuff taken in. A bloke had got a gorgeous wooden swinging crib but the old lady behind the counter was trying to say she couldn't take it because the matress didn't fit in with their safety rules. My mum was pregnant with my 2 year old sister at the time so I asked her what would happen to it because the man just left it there, when she said it would be sent away to be recycled I asked if I could buy it because we had a matress at home that would fit it good. She said I could have it for a donation but she wasn't actually allowed to sell it and she suggested £10.00, I thought she would say more so I was dead happy to get it for that and so was my mum! I've recently started buying books from charity shops because I usually get my books from the library but have just got a bookcase by my bed and want to fill it as quick as possible! Most books in any charity shop are only 99p so that's a major saving compared to the normal price of about £6.00 a book on Amazon and my bookcase will cost a lot less to fill! lol I also like that there is loads of choice and you can't actually go into a charity shop looking for a particular book so your kind of relying on the good taste of the people who are donating! lol The ones I go into have always got a good choice and I've brought about 20 books so far this year from charity shops with only a couple of disappointing ones. Toys are a bit of a risk in charity shops, the ones by me don't sell that many and they're usually rubbish or Mcdonalds toys anyway. Sometimes if my sister is with me I get her something to hold onto while we're shopping but not so much now that she's walking on her own and doesn't need entertaining in her buggy. I think charity shops are good to have a look round in but don't expect the bargains they used to have years ago because even the staff are clued up to what's worth what now so it's unlikely you're going to get a Versace dress for £2.50 now! Recommended... but don't buy for the sake of it and be open minded when you're looking round the books!!!
The status of these stores has increased a great deal over the years. The idea is that individuals donante their unwanted items to theses charitable organisations. In turn they filter through the stck and decide what is useful and worthwhile selling, pricing it up accordingly. The item are then sold in the relevant section of the store. Majority of charity shops are only small and of late they have become a lot more selective about what they are perpared to take in, for fear of people feeling like they can use the place as a rubbish tip. The items sold, despite being used are normally always good quality and it has become a lot more fashionable to shop at theses types of stores. As a result that there is no cost for the stock, they can afford to charge low price. In some cases though fir items like books for example, a lot of these shops have now decided to sell them at a bit more a premium. The staff are always very helpful and they are mostly volunteers so don't have any agenda at all and in my opinion its almost sinful to give them any hassle. The clothing gear in most of these shops is also very fashionable too because its handpicked from the donations. There are also some other unusual objects or ornaments there which you might find and its still possible to pick up a bargain. The other day I picked up an original copy of BAD on vinyll by Michael Jackson for £1.50. Online its listed at £18 at the cheapest. All in all the options are not too shabby and if you are not bothered by the fact that its other peoples old stuff and like the idea of recycling, its definately worth going in.
One Man's Junk is another Man's Treasure... I love charity shop shopping, I go every once in a while to see what bargains I can find, although these are getting few and far between these days. I honestly think that these stores are getting a bit greedy now - perhaps it's not their fault, but when I see a top that's £1 in Primark new, for £2.99 in Oxfam it annoys me. Advantages: You're giving money to charity... You're also in most cases getting a bargain. Plus in a way it's recycling and reducing waste. So all in all a great thing. They are a great place to pick up discontinued products too - like for example I loved Soldier, Soldier when it was on TV and a long time ago I tried to get the VHS collection (pre-DVD). I couldn't get it anywhere and eventually I got the whole set in a Charity Shop for £30. Disadvantages: The smell. Having a culmination of so many peoples unwanted goods gives off a musty pungent smell which I struggle to stomach. Plus as I said, sometimes, things are more expensive than they are in shops! I am pretty sure that the staff have first refusal on the things that come in to the store (my friend did some volunteer work in a charity shop and told me this happens), so a lot of the time the good stuff goes before it makes it to the floor. Oh and some people are there on the morning before the store opens when they know the delivery is put out. So you miss the good stuff this way too. What can you get? Well, from clothing and shoes to ornaments and handbags, there's usually something for everyone. My favourite thing on offer are the books, in my town we have a charity shop which is just books and the most expensive ones are 75p. This is great to me, and I always let them keep my change too as its just such a bargain. And the woman is lovely, she keeps books on my wanted list to one side for me if they come in. You can sometimes get electronics and furniture too, plus antiques and collectables are always lurking on the shelves - if you know what to look for. Some examples of things I have purchased recently include a 1920s vintage flapper hat (£2), a silk French Connection vintage neck scarf (£1) and a pair of Armani jeans (£3.99). Tips and Tricks: If you want to buy from Charity Shops to make money on Ebay for example, do so with conscience - donate part of your sales to charity too - I have bought several vintage items, and sold them on Ebay for a lot more than I paid for them. Just did this with a few bits, not for making big money, but just to boost my paypal account a bit to buy things for myself from Ebay. Don't forget to check labels of clothing, not to find designer items but to make sure you don't pay more than it originally cost. I refer you back to the Primark example. Take advantage of changing rooms as you generally cant take things back. Consider hygiene, don't buy underwear or swimwear (although they do often sell these!). Remember to ask when the delivery days are so that you can go when the bargains are fresh. If you want something in particular ask the staff to look out for it and put it to one side, some will some wont, but its worth asking. In 'posh' areas, charity shops tend to be well stocked out and have all kinds of designer and expensive items in them for a snip. The wealthy people give to them but would potentially never buy there, so they are a gold mine! There used to be a charity shop on the outskirts of Cheshire to whom Victoria Beckham used to give her cast offs. If you're getting married, consider finding your dress in a charity shop. 9/10 of people I know, have read about, etc who have called their weddings off just give their dress to a charity shop - so they are generally new and under £100. Fantastic! Overall: If you can get past the smell and spend time hunting for bargains then there are some really brilliant things hidden away in Charity Shops. Worth a look if you have the time and the patience and an eye for potential.
I do love going to chity shops because I love the element of surprise, you never know what tacky thing you can find there or some old book that reminds you of your childhood. I do notice many people are too snobbish to go into charity shops nowadays but will proudly carry and Primark bags. In the high street where I stay in a small town there a few charity shops and I raid them constantly. I have a 2 x British Heart Foundation shops, one Oxfam, Bernardo's and Salvation Army. When I get bored and have nothing to do in the afternoon I go out charity shopping as I call it. I do not have much money in general and I love the fact that for very little money you can get yourself an almost new outfit or buy needed furniture also I do a lot of crafts change and modify things to personalise them in my own style that works for me. One constant thing I always buy is postcards from Oxfam as they are made of 50% recycled cardboard and they profits go to people in need so this is what everyone is getting every Christmas or in special occasion. One thing that I do not like is the fact that you simply can not get bargains no matter how much you try. I hear they have professionally people that sort things out and pretty and valuable things go to some ware else instead of being sold locally. Sometimes some things slip trough their hands, once I found an £90 perfume sold for £3 in the shop, made by an old fashioned not well known luxurious brand from France, it smelled absolutely divined but once I used half of it and got bored I sold it on Ebay for £50, so this is the only thing I can say in my many years of charity shops hunting that I found of value and I have quite a good eye for thing like that. Most of the clothing you find in the charity shops are made by Primark, Top Shop, Dorothy Perkins, that don't have a good quality items to begin with. One good thing is that bigger cities have better selection of items and that is a whole new experience. Otherwise charity shops can be useful for small nick nags you would usually need buy can't be bothered paying the full price. I find car boot sales far more better.
I am born hunter. I don't like when something is delivered on a plate. I love searching for treasure just like a pirat. I hate shopping in a mall. There's everything in every size and colour. When I came to UK and discovered the charity shops I was in seventh heaven. It's like fishing. There's a lot of different fishes in a river but you want to goldfish. Charity shops are goldmines. You can even find new designer clothes and bags for only one pound! That's something wonderful! My wardrobe is bursting at the seams now! Some people are ashamed to buy in shops like this. I think that it's not shame. The first - items in this shops are not old useful rubbish. The second - buying there we can help. The third - we can save money on clothes which we can spend on dinner in a good restaurant with somebody we like. For me friendship is more important than shopping ;) WARNING - hunting is addictive In charity shops we can find not only clothes. There's a lot books, CD's and DVD's too. I collected full Shopaholic series (I'm big fan ;)) written by Sophie Kinsella - in price of one book from bookshop ;D Isn't it great deal? Why to be a criminal downloading games or music from internet if you can have original discs in funny low price? I prefer not to be outlaw. Sumarizing: Charity shops relax me and help not to bankrupt ;) I recommend for everyone, especialy in times of crisis.
When I was younger I used to be so embarrassed by by Mam, who spent quite a lot of time browsing the different charity shops in town. I would never go in with her and used to wait a fair distance from the shop just in case any of my friends happened to walk past! Fast forward a few years and now I drag her in them! I must admit I don't tend to frequent them as much as I used to. It seems that through the effect of the credit crunch, more people are shopping in charity shop and because of this they have raised their prices. While I'm all for charity shops making as much money as they can, some places seem to have priced themselves out of the market. For example I have seen Primark clothes priced higher then the original Primark price! For me, the whole point of charity shops is to make as much money as they can and high rotation of stock is part of this, bird in the hand and all that. If people see the same items of stock everytime they come in, they will come in less often, less footfall = less money in the till. That said, if you can find the right shop, with a manager who shares this view there are some great bargains to be had, I've had designer clothes at a fraction of the RRP, household items and lots more! Different shops also have different opinions regarding displays. Some go for the 'less is more' approach and some prefer the 'pile it all in' style. Personally I prefer something in the middle. Part of the fun is to have a good rake through the stock in the hope of finding a gem, but it's impossible if you can't get to it! So, bargains, the thrill of the chase and environmentally friendly too! What more could you want?
As a kid my mum was always trying to get me in a charity shop but being a kid I saw them as horrible places full of smelly clothes that not even your Nan would want to wear. Now as a mum with a limited budget and children that seem to grow quicker than weeds I have started to look at some ways to save some money on clothes. The look of charity shops has complety changed over the last few years and in my honest opinion all for the better (there as some horrible smelly charity shops around but these are few and far between now) . Most charity shops sell clothes and accessories along with toys, books and general bric a brac. Some of the more higher class charity shop sell some new items such as chocolates and sweets. Oxfam sell a lot of new products and lots of gifts, like buy a goat for a family in a poorer country. I have got lots of name brand clothes for my self and my children from charity shops, my top tip would be go to a higher class area as they have better clothes. I never buy shoes from a charity shop because I think new shoes are an important item, I do gets loads of bargain books most of them for about 30p.
Watching Mary Portas wield the big stick over the pensioners in the Save The Children shop on Mary Queen of Shops on BBC2 as she tackled charity retail it was quite revealing to learn that only 25% of the stuff sent in was actually resalable. They basically had to throw away most of the donations and send a lot of the clothes to be used as rag to stuff pillows and stuff, and this in a posh area. False teeth and used nappies were even sent it. People basically don't send stuff in that they think might actually make the charity some money but stuff they deem crap but don't want to throw away because they feel guilty or something. I don't really think about that until she discovered that home fact. The truth is big companies are no different and use charities for dumping grounds, sending faulty or disconnected items in huge trailers to the third world under the premise that the goods can be used for a good cause when really it's just to avoid the industrial dumping costs they don't have to pay when its listed as charity. Although Mary's intentions were good it was a rather cynical exercise of self-promotion as she bullied the old dears to do things to make an interesting TV rather than relevant to selling crap to people who rather like to buy crap for a few pence. Instead she turned the failing Orpington Shop into a trendy boutique, calling on all her fashion and media connections to fill it with good stuff that no other charity shop could possibly get their hands on. She hoped to roll out this new style of charity shop nationally with Save the Children's say so, if it was successful, which the store was, of course, reaching its two grand a week target, up from its regular £750. Not only did she whip her volunteers into shape and achieve target but managed to wear a different outfit in every shot, which takes some doing for wardrobe. What a woman! One would presumes she didn't put together her numerous ensembles from paying pennies at charity shops for the items. If only we could be so stylish as her. Mary would only go to a charity shop if fashion gurus like Mary put stuff in them, her mission in the TV show it seems. Basically Mary is rather better than you lot and her well meaning ego trip won't be changing the face of charity shops any day soon but you can read all about it in her new book or see it in the DVD, as yet unclear how much of those royalties will be going to Save the Children. I don't know if any of you have seen the shop in question (do tell if you have been in) but one would suspect the final part of the facelift would to get some young people in there behind the till, subtly forcing out the old biddies that give charity shops that unfortunate image, the bit she didn't mention on TV. The old girls twigged that very early on and started to jump ship before they were pushed off the plank, Mary persuading the more entertaining ones to at least stay around for the cameras as their rebellion made good TV. TV Cooking porn has been replaced by retail porn. People that work in the shops are decent people that have nothing else to do and so enjoy the company or sent there by the doll office through the New deal scheme. They are unpaid and so have no real interest how much money the store takes. The League of Gentleman's brilliant parody of the dusty charity shop pensioners, death as a post and arguing over the price and who gets to ring it up, is sadly accurate. Take not that many charity directors pull a very nice salary thank you very much. I use charity shops (cheap always good), a pair of shorts for the summer here or some trainers there, no big deal. The day I buy brands that only £1 of the forty has gone to the person who made it in a sweatshop is along way off. But too me the idea of them is they are bottom line places that would never turn a buck if they had sexy refits and paid managers. And who would volunteer for them if they were turned into boutiques that are in competition with regular shops for the best stuff? One would suspect it would see branches closed down and councils pushing up their rents and dropping the subsidizes they get as these places start to make money the other shops that do pay full rates will no longer be getting their share of that cash. My mum was a paid manger of a charity shop and you are expected to make your salary back and some more on top of non paid manager stores. The staff get first dabs on the goods (unofficially) and many put them on eBay. In fact eBay trading is one of the reasons why charity shops business was rising through the late 90s. My brother does it all the time and bought a Windows 2000 software pack for a quid and sold it for £45 on the auction site. He didn't give them the £45. I went in a few charity shops this week to see if Mary is right and I think the clothes are pretty bad and it's noticeable that the sizes are mostly big or kids. There's nothing my size and so it does back up the idea people chuck away stuff they don't want or need but expect it to be useful. The last item I bought was a DVD and a pair of knee length shorts to show off my great legs. And as long as I can get bits for next to nothing I will keep going in and not asking for change. But the middle-class chap on the show who refused to pay no more than 70p for his short handle tennis racket is the reason why charity shops will only ever be thrift stores and any move to break a system that works because of decent people volunteering will only see stores close Miss Portas. I think the shops should reflect the people who shop in them. Ultimately though you have a choice: buy branded clothing i normal shops that exploits child labour in the third world or use charity shops and so send the money back to those kids.
When I was a teenager, I laughed at my Mum shopping almost exclusively in charity shops. Now I am in my 20's, so do I. Charity shops are absolutely fantastic. Not only can you grab a great bargain, the thrill of the chase is entertaining too. I can spend hours in various shops browsing the rails and thumbing through books. Some charity shops are more expensive than others, I find this depends on the area and the charity in question. Out of town and smaller church organised shops tend to be cheaper. There are a few hidden gems in these shops too. Oxfam, despite it's reputation seems to be the most up-market of charity shops, I've seen cardigans in there for 18 pounds and goods have quite high prices according to their specific designers. I find it's a great way to bag unique items. I've actually purchased so many clothes still with their original labels and pricing on from other shops. I have a evening wear top originally from Marks and Spencers which is fabulous and I purchased for 3.50 pounds. I have also bought items for my flat which I haven't seen anywhere else. I have really got back into reading this year and the RSPCA charity shop in Huddersfield has books for only 50p. This is a low price compared to many charity shops and I often make a special trip to town to browse the books. Many bestselling novels have been given away with hardly even a look at the blurb. Charity shops are a great way to beat the credit crunch, grab amazing items at bargain prices,provide entertainment, and of course support brilliant charities. Ignore the stigma associated with charity shops, this is 2009 and the shops are now certainly for everyone!
I have to say i think charity shop are great. Before i went to uni they werent somewhere i ever ventured. However with the many fancy dress parties arranged at uni, charity shops formed one of our weekly shopping rituals. These shops contain everything from clothes to bric a brac and books. Everything is really cheap and normally the quality is pretty good. (it gets better if you shop at the charity shops in expensive areas). You can pick up a whole outfit including shoes for less than £10! If youre looking for fancy dress look no further - hawaian shirts and fake leather skirts aplenty - perfect for getting inspiration for a 60s or 70s outfit! Shopping at charity shops also gives you a good feeling - youre helping someone else out not lining the pockets of some huge corporation. You can help twice as much by returning the items after youve used them - double the good feeling. I now only use charity shops for looking for books before my holidays but i always return them when i get back to give more. I really would recommend looking in a charity shop if you havent before. Theyre treasure troves of goodies!
'Your mum's so poor she buys toilet roll from Oxfam ' - I got that a lot as a kid . When I was young, my dad was in the army, but sadly had to leave after developing a back problem . The family income took a big dip for a couple of years, and my parents prioritised things like good food and fun, which meant clothing and toys had less of a budget. Still, they did their best. Endlessly rummaging in charity shops, jumble sales and carboots, they would pick something up every so often, and we never went without. Sure, stuff was used, but really you couldn't tell the difference . Now, I'm older, with a kid of my own, and sometimes I struggle with money . But I want to make sure my daughter has all the clothes, books and toys she needs . Like my parents, I rate a healthy diet and good times more important however . So, I shop in charity shops. There are plenty nearby, selling decent secondhand gear for cheap prices . I also volunteered for a time with the British Heart Foundation . In this review, you're going to get a little of both sides . Firstly - volunteering in a charity shop is a great experience. I did a few hours each saturday, working the tills in BHF . I did a little product sorting too. Working the till was great for me , generally a pretty shy person, I found myself chatting to the people that came into the shop, recognising regulars, and making friends . Sorting, I didn't enjoy so much . They were very strict with quality - books couldn't be dog eared, they wouldn't even bother trying to sell ordinary drinking glasses and plates, and they couldn't sell electrical appliances . It broke my heart seeing perfectly servicable items going into the skip at night,. I'm not ashamed to say that a couple of times, I went bin raiding, removing books and bagging them up to donate to an old peoples home just a few minutes walk from the shop . I don't think any useful item should be binned, there is always someone who could make use of it . All those glasses, pans, plates, and cutlery we refused to sell could so easily have been bundled into packs and given to people just starting out in a new home for example . As regards shopping in charity shops - I love it . Part of the charm is that you never know if you're going to get something good or not . I love reading, and I can always pick up a book for about 50p, not bad considering that many come with a 6.99 cover price. I was overjoyed to find 'Twilight' on sale for £1.20 - I'd been planning on spending my dooyoo miles on it, but saved a good fiver getting it second hand . I also by clothes from charity shops . There is no getting around (without a long excursion) the fact that I'm s big girl . And, if I were to shop on the highstreet, I would be limited to 'big girl' shops such as Evans. In charity shops though, I often find something that both fits and suits em, for a very low price . I went to one where they had a 'sale' on. Certain items were priced at £1 for that day only . I spent 20 quid, and came out with a whole new wardrobe. I also find it great for shoes - I recently paid £2.50 for new shoes that still had a £15.00 price tag on the bottom, and 5 quid for a brand new pair of Hush Puppipes that would have easily cost me 50 quid in the shops . I've purchased items for my daughter from charity shops too, In the last few weeks, I've gotten a lovely warm coat, a ' Ready Steady Cook' ice cream maker, and countless books . In the past, I've also purchased furniture from charity shops . My daughters bed ( a bunk, double on the bottom, single on top) I paid £50 quid for. I would definately recommend taking a browse in your local charity shop , you're sure to find something you like, be it a book, a DVD, or a childs toy . You'll save a heck of a lot off retail price, and in these cash strapped times, that's a good thing . I'd also recommend volunteering - it's fun, it looks good on a CV, and it costs you nothing . Like me, you might feel some frustration when they throw away 'unsaleable' items, but you'd still be helping out . Remember, everything you spend in a charity shop helps out good causes ! Go shop, now!
I do think charity shops are an important part of our community, in a perfect world they wouldn't exist and our charities would get all the help and funding they need from the government. Unfortunately this doesn't happen so the charities that can afford it open shops where the public can donate their unwanted items to be resold with the profit going to help the represented charity. The shops are run by armies of unpaid volunteers, although generally the managers of the shops are paid a modest wage. Sometimes the staff are less than helpful and really a smile wouldn't cost anything either, but I grit my teeth through their rudeness and remember I am shopping for charity! Of course, these are in the minority and most people working in charity shops are elderly ladies, polite and dainty in the extreme and always ready for a chat in my experience. What you can find in charity shop depends on the branch itself; my local PDSA store has a huge selection of ladies clothes but very little else, whereas the local hospice shop near my daughter sells lots of books and homeware but has little in the way of clothing at all. My favourite at the moment is the Sue Ryder shop as they seem to have lots of toddler clothes suitable for my young granddaughter, none of the charity shops seem to cater terribly well for older children but I have had some real bargains for the little one. But this could all change in an instant as any one shop is absolutely reliant on public donations for their stock, if my local neighbours stopped donating their excellent quality toddler clothes then they quite simply wouldn't be there. The prices will depend again on which branch you visit. Oxfam I find to be very over priced and often items found in there can be sourced brand new for the same or very slightly more, it's hard to say which charity shop has the most reasonable prices as there seems to be little structure across the board when it comes to pricing their items. For example, last week I bought a beautiful Next skirt for my granddaughter in PDSA which cost £1.25, yet next door in Marie Curie a basic Mothercare bodysuit for a smaller baby was priced at £2.10! I enjoy the browsing aspect of a charity shop, I find shopping rather boring if I'm honest because in most clothes shops there are basically rows and rows of the same style clothes in different colours but in a charity shop there is such a wonderful pick and mix of styles. If you're a size 12 - 16 then you'll find you're well catered for but smaller or larger sizes seem to be not so readily available, I am a 16 or 18 depending on the style and find there are very few clothes available in an 18, then again those in a 16 are usually too trendy for me so I rarely buy anything for myself. My friend is a size 22 and there is just one charity shop that she's found that caters to her size, I cannot remember the name off hand and can't think of a way to politely ask her which shop sells her big clothes so you'll just have to wait until she mentions it again. True bargains are rather few and fair between nowadays in charity shops, when they first became popular you could often pick up a designer garment for a few pence but over the years they have become more savvy when it comes to spotting what is worth pricing a little higher than usual. My daughter had a very good deal in her local shop last year when she picked up a beautiful dress for her friend's little boys christening, she paid £15 for the immaculate dress and knowing she wouldn't wear it again put the dress on Ebay to get her money back. It turned out the dress was a Spanish designer creation and someone in Spain bought it for a little over £75. The other side of the coin is donating. I always donate my unwanted clothes to charity shops along with whatever household items I think are worth them having, I say this because not all shops will sell certain things and it costs them money to dispose of items donated that cannot be resold. Soft toys are somewhat of a grey area, when I sorted out my granddaughters' toy box recently I took two black bags of cuddly toys to the charity shop only to be told that they couldn't sell them because they did not have the regulation fire safety labels on them. He offered to dispose of them but I bought them home instead and offered them on Freecycle where they were rehomed with a car booter! Needless to say anything donated must be of usable quality and not damaged, clothing will be washed and pressed prior to being sold so don't worry about specially washing anything but don't take a load of dirty laundry down to the charity shop as it's inconsiderate and makes work for the staff. There are even larger charity shops who will come and collect your unwanted furniture, I visited a British Heart Foundation shop in Birmingham last year that only sold furniture and pieces ranged from second hand GHDs (still ridiculously over priced even pre-owned) to brand new bulky wardrobes which cost more than the brand new equivalent in the furniture shop over the road. I shall always use charity shops, for me they make shopping more fun and I am happy to donate to the charities by way of purchasing items, usually books, from the shops. It's always been a talking point as to how much of the money raised in these shops actually goes to the front line of the charity and how much is spent on the overheads on running the shops themselves. I like to give the charities the benefit of the doubt, I'm sure as much goes into the charities coffers as possible but it isn't cheap running a business these days even if you are a registered charity. As I have said already, if these important charities received more help from the government and high fliers in the country then they wouldn't have to keep coming pot in hand to the public and then perhaps the rumours of mismanagement and plain unkindness would cease.
I would be the first to admit that I use to think that charity shops were just filled with junk and terrible clothes that werent even granny worthy, though when I became a student I think my views on this changed alot. Our Student Union holds an Oxfam charity shop that holds some brilliant finds and alot of the stuff is new, or almost new, recently my friend bought a beautiful dress from it for a formal for £25, although it was originally worth much more and it was in great condition, thats cheaper than renting a dress from a dress makers, that probably has been worn by many more girls than one. Also in our Student Union Oxfam there is lots of cool and different jewellry like necklaces and braclets that are unique from what is now sold in the shops, some would say out dated, but still there are a few really interesting and different pieces held in store, for a fraction of the price that it would be sold for in other shops. They also sell loads of other donated items, like unwanted Christmas presents, books, and generally anything and everything. So after looking in the Oxfam in the Student Union one day, me and my friends decided to venture into a charity shop closer to Belfast Centre, and although the clothes were a bit more out dated, and less studenty, (though what can you expect really different kinds of people donate clothes to different stores), there were afew nice things that were very nicely priced and affordable, though there were some really discusting clothes in there too. I have really changed my opinion on charity shops because of this, and has left me more open minded to going into one. I think that charity shops are important, and really help all types of people, by selling goods at low prices they help less advantaged people who find it hard to clothe themselves and their children, I often see school uniforms in charity shops sold at a more affordable price, which brand new can often be expensive and must be really hard for less advantaged parents to buy, even though they are compulsery, and they help in many other ways too, as the luxery of shopping for clothes can be a subject that just stresses familys that are trying to make ends me. On the other side of the coin, money raised by charity shops goes towards really deserving charities that need help and support to keep running, so they help all kinds of people and change loads of peoples lifes. Since seeing more of charity shops, and actually entering one, I have started to donate clothes that I really dont need anymore that is still decent and wearable to others, I like the feeling that I am helping some one, even if I dont know directly who I am helping, though I do try to not donate anything that is really discusting and unwearable as these shops are full of these already. Other charity shops than Oxfam include: Cancer Research Age Concern Chest Heart and Stroke Save the Children and also many hospices have charity shops attached. I think that charity shops are a great thing to have in your town, though I think that they need more support from the public through donations of clothes, books and well anything else really that they can sell, so then more people can be helped and the charitys and the charity shops wont struggle as much to stay open and keep helping as many people as possible.
Whilst I would rarely buy clothes from a charity shop I am always looking in here for bargains, some of which are just ridiculously cheap! I am a very enthusiastic book reader and on a good week I can get through 2-3 books. Thus, I need a place that can satisfy my need without being too expensive. I generally find that I can pick up a few good chick-lits and autobiographies for 99p-£1.50. This is a fantastic price for something that has generally only been read or two by another person. I have found on the odd occasion that there have been pages missing and on one occasion I got a face full of sand whilst reading a book upside down! But then the people in charity shops work hard to get everything out on the shelves and organised they can't be held responsible for checking that a 600 page book has every single page otherwise they'd never have time to restock the shop! Recently I have acquired another new niece and nephew (niece from sister, nephew from brother) and whilst my brother wouldn't dare shop in a charity shop (snob!) my sister & I have found some great bargains whilst browsing, a coat (looked brand new) for my niece for around £1.50 and a cot mobile which lit up and played music (working fine, lights were working etc) for around £2.00. I think that people should always support charity shops, if I ever have any books that are unwanted and still in good condition I will always drop them in here as it's good to give something back and I know most of the books I really will be popular. Also, I will donate old clothes if they are still in wearable condition (no holes, no patches etc). It's important for people to donate to their local charity shops, we have quite a few here and I normally donate to the British Heart Foundation & Age Concern as these are two charities that are quite close to my heart due to family health problems and having elderly grandparents. Anyway, if you are looking for somewhere to shop I'd definitely advise having a look around your local charity shops, you can pick up some real bargains and you'll feel nice and warm inside knowing that the what you do buy is helping to contribute towards a good cause! Also, if you have some free time on your hands you could always pop in and see if they need any volunteers. It might only take up a couple of hours a week but it could be one of the most fulfilling things you ever do!