I volunteer once a week in a charity shop and I am moved to write, briefly, about my experience. On the whole I enjoy the few hours that I put in but sometimes I have to wonder what people are thinking when they hand in donations bags. Most of the donated stock is saleable but there are occasions when we receive a lot of absolute tat. Let me give some examples – badly chipped china, teapots without lids, dirty pots, torn paperbacks, soiled clothing, half used makeup, incomplete games and jigsaws, pirated CDs, broken electrical appliances – you get the picture.
I think people forget that the purpose of the charity shop is to raise funds. Before any money is made for the charity the rent, overheads and the shop manager’s wages have to be paid. All the other work is done on a voluntary basis and, as a volunteer, it is very frustrating to spend a morning going through piles of stuff that cannot be sold. It makes me feel as though I have wasted my time when I cannot find decent products to put on the shelves. It also costs the charity shop money to dispose of products that aren’t fit for sale. So there’s a financial cost as well as my ’emotional’ cost.
Our customers are mainly of two types: Those that need to buy used clothing and those that are looking for the vintage/designer bargain. Neither is interested in buying washed out chain store T-shirts or threadbare trousers. I would ask people who are donating to charity shops to stop and think. Ask themselves a few questions about the things they are giving and try to decide if an item is worthy of being sold to raise funds. The quality of the merchandise on sale in charity shops is important. If the shop is stocked with shoddy goods the customers go elsewhere. It is important to keep our customers and show them respect by having good items on sale at a fair price. So, please, keep donating your unwanted, yet marketable, items.
P.S. Please make the effort to donate items directly to your preferred charity shop as many of the doorstep bag collections are for bogus charities.