Are you doing your bit for charity?

I read an article in the Daily Mail today about a charity shop, Sue Ryder opening a charity superstore in King’s Lynn which took more than £2,100 on it’s first day of trading.  This article prompted me to think about my charity shop experiences.

As a child I was encouraged by my parents and teachers to give any unwanted items away charity.  This habit continued into my teens and now into my adult hood.  I was also encouraged to give money to charities through sponsoring family and friends and putting money into those brightly coloured charity boxes.

However, I was never encourage to shop in charity shops.  During my childhood, it was deemed by my social upbringing that only those who couldn’t afford new clothes shopped in charity shops. This continued for many years until I one of my friends told me about dress agencies where you can take your good condition, unwanted clothes and the agency will sell your clothes in their store in exchange of x% of the sale.  I loved the concept as it meant that you could actually make some money on your old clothes.  I used to browse the rails regularly and pick up some great bargains.

Then came the birth of eBay, which took selling your clothes to the next level.  I was regularly buying and selling “new” and “used” clothes on eBay.

After my dress agency and eBay experience, I decided to experiment with shopping in a charity shops. From my experience, I found that the quality and style of clothes on offer varied depending on the location of the charity shop. Charity shops in less affluent areas attracted clothes from lower budget high street stores, whereas more affluent areas attracted clothes from mid – high budget high street stores and even some designer goods.

When I trained as an image consultant, I was also encouraged to visit the charity shops to source clothes so that my clients could see, touch, feel and try on clothes in different colours, styles and fabrics.

You may also recall watching on Channel 4, the three part “Mary Queen of Charity Shops” series in 2009 where Mary Portas worked with Save the Children to overhaul a shop in Orpington, Kent from an under-performing shop and team to the very top of their game tripling their takings and making it the top shop for Save the Children.

Given the fact that you can source high quality, low cost items, sales for charity shops are booming in  the current economic climate.  Oxfam has 700 shops and an online store  In 2011 they announced annual takings of £85.9million,  an increase of 6 per cent on the previous year.  As charity shops begin to grow they are desperate for new stock.  There are many ways to donate:

  • Donate via the charity bags that come through your letter box.
  • Visit the charity shop personally.
  • Drop your unwanted good at your local charity bins located in out of town supermarkets.

If you’re planning on visiting Marks & Spencer or TL Maxx soon, you can also drop of your unwanted items there.  Joanna Lumley had replaced Danni Minogue as the face of the shwopping campaign and all clothes will be donated to Oxfam.  TK Maxx are working with Cancer Research to recycle your unwanted good.  I’d be interested to hear about your charity shopping experience and how you go about donating items to charity.  Which of the above methods do you prefer to use?