Fashion Comment : Changing The Way You See Charity Shops


Those avid readers amongst you will know last year we voted Charity Shops our “Independent Retailer of the year”, and this year given the size of some of the retail businesses of a few charities we moved them to “Best high Street Store” which they won in a landslide.


We thought we’d explain something that we consider very important in the responses we got. There are two types of charity shops in general, those that are providers of cheaper 2nd hand items and alternatives in our communities, and then the second type, those that raise money for their aims. They generate the funds to carry out research and development or provide immediate or palliative care. With this in mind it is vital that they raise as much money as possible towards these goals.


Cancer, heart disease, and HIV don’t offer discount cures so those fighting them can’t carry out cut price fights against them.


In battles where every penny counts, it is imperative for these charities to be as close to the market rate for goods and garments as possible. They have a need to be at the same price as their commercial competitors. I recently witnessed a friend moan about a basketball top being £10 in a charity shop and yet bought the same one a few days later in a well known London 2nd hand store for £25, and thinks that was a fair price.


Now I’m not naïve enough to say the pricing is always right, there is not a retail operation in the world that doesn’t get it wrong occasionally, and yes where goods are genuinely above the rate you would pay in a 2nd hand/vintage dealer then you have to question the value, but we should accept that charity shops unless they are specifically working from the point of providing cheap goods are there to generate vital income for their work.


It is also fair to say that sometimes charity volunteers and staff do get pricing wrong. I’m assuming if you read my blog you have an interest in fashion, and that’s why you know things like the sub-brands in places like Primark or other shops, but the person tasked with going through all the donations and pricing them may not be the obsessive Vogue reading, outfit judging, tutting at bad hemlines people that we are. We must learn to forgive that they have no idea that Cedar Wood is a discount brand. Remember this can work in our favour as well, we all brag about our “finds” so we have to take it both ways occasionally. My £6 suit is a classic example, valued by a vintage seller as over £50.


Interestingly as a side note speaking to my contacts in vintage and 2nd hand, they all use charity shops for part of their stock generation process so they must be able to generate a profit margin off their pricing as well.


At the end of the day for me it comes down to something very simple, do I hand Rokit or similar £30 to go into someone’s bank account, or do I go next door to the charity shop and think £30 should I pay that to someone who is using it to make the world better? The answer to that for me will always be the charity shop where possible. I get great garments, and I get to feel good about doing something that benefits us all.


We as we always say at FW are one world, one people.

About Ross Pollard

Since starting writing on my 31st birthday in 2011 I have held a number of positions at magazines and websites as well as regularly producing articles for numerous publications alongside contributing to TV & radio shows as a freelance fashion journalist including Hoxton Radio & Fashion One TV. Alongside writing, I have worked in other industries helping to design & grow digital platforms, develop businesses and support operations practices. This experience has proved invaluable in building an understanding of how businesses work, and the landscape in which retail, B2B commerce and other commercial operations develop. Knowledge of commercial interests has helped shape my fashion industry insights beyond critiquing of garments


  1. LOVE that you made charity shops your Indie Retailer of he Year! Never Buy New is my motto. I feel so much more inspired in a charity shop than I do in a hum-drum high street shop. Shop on! New fan…#best2ndever

    • thnk you, we’re committed to promoting the best of indie business and charity shops here, rther than the big high st names, charity shops are part of our saturdays digging for gold

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