Charity Shops Lament

Vintage shopAs I was walking down the high street the other day, I found myself getting increasingly frustrated. It was not just because of the slow walkers (who, while I’m on the subject need their very own ‘slow coach lane’ on the pavement; that way they can stop and admire the sky to their hearts’ content without stirring up my wrath to the point where I am tempted to tear up their multicoloured tourist map in a bid to make them pay more attention to their busy surroundings). It wasn’t even really the fact that my favourite lip gloss had its price bumped up for the second time this year, causing me to buy a cheap (but not so cheerful) alternative.


My irritation stemmed mainly from the fact that charity shops just aren’t what they should be anymore. I consider myself to be somewhat of a charity shop connoisseur; for after spending a couple of years chillaxing on the poverty line, I had to be a bit more ‘creative’ with my retail therapy. I have indeed managed to Help the Aged, support the RSPCA, Salvation Army, PDSA, Age Concern and Oxfam; I think it might even be fair to say that I single-handedly kept a certain Samaritans shop on one high street open. Okay, maybe not entirely single-handedly. But close.


Anyway, as I visited a string of charity shops along the high street, I was horrified to find labels with prices like £15 for a top and £20 for a dress. What kind of madness is this? I think that there is a serious problem when you can find new, cheaper clothes in Primark and H&M than in your local charity shop. The more I think about it, the more passionate I get at the injustice. These clothes are SECOND HAND and you are trying to make me pay £15 for a used t-shirt? As in something someone has actually sweated in? Not only am I slightly overcome by its strong, musty smell, I can clearly see a nondescript stain on the hem of the garment.  Surely this could not have passed the attention of the overzealous do-gooder with a price gun?


It’s not even (wholly) about being cheap, it’s the principle. Surely if you have to think twice about buying something at a charity shop because of the price, it has been priced too highly? Why are charity shops trying to compete with the Topshops of this world? No-one goes into Pound Land expecting to find the same spacious and airy aisles as you would get in M&S – you adjust your expectations, do you not? You do not even imagine the alluring voice on the adverts saying ‘this is not just an ordinary chocolate cake…’ because you realise that it is just an ordinary chocolate sponge. In fact, it’s probably a bit stale.


I think what many of these shops are doing is daylight robbery under the guise of a ‘good cause’ and if you question it, it will inevitably make you look like a cheapskate who doesn’t care about the charity. In my case, this is largely true; when I step into the RSPCA shop, I confess that I am not thinking about poor defenceless dogs that will be fed and looked after, thanks to my investment. All I am thinking of are the beautiful bracelets that I have just purchased. With that said, I am a reasonable cheapskate. In my defence I almost felt bad when I once only paid £1.50 for a next-to-new Karen Millen cardigan. Almost.


I am probably more happy digging for treasures in my local charity shop than wading through crowds in Oxford Street; however, if old smelly clothes continue to be priced unfairly, I may have to abandon ship.


By Kaz