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Snooty Charity Shops
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Posts: 729
Joined: Oct 2007
Post: #1
09-07-2010 09:54 PM

Warning - rant coming, but I need to get this off my chest!Cursing

When I give things to a charity shop, I would hope that even if they are not saleable, they are either given away for free to those who might need or want them or at the very least recycled if possible.

I was previously aware that the Red Cross Shop in FH had a pretty low opinion on the quality of its donations - I oveheard a conversation between staff and a customer complaining that someone had donated their distance learning accountancy text books. I would have thought these would have been highly saleable as it's a very popular course, but no, they binned the lot - in the street litter bin outside their shop.

I was reminded of this earlier this week, when I saw a good half a dozen waste sacks on the pavement outside their shop earlier this week, all destined for SELCHP. I could clearly see inside decent quality paperbacks by known authors, kids toys etc. Surely there must be some way of finding good homes for this stuff, even if for free. There's no apparent attempt to recycle where possible either.

Another example is clothes hangers - RC will not take them, as they use only their own (very posh) wooden ones.

Contrast this with the response I got from Scope in Sydenham, who assured me that even if they could not sell my donations, they would ensure that they were used if at all possible, electrical goods repaired and pat tested, or at the last resort, recycled. Scope said I should give them everything and they would sort it out and find good homes for all of it.

I appreciate the shops need quality items to sell, but having seen their attitude to well-meant donations, they'll not be getting any more of mine.

Perhaps if anyone volunteers for a charity shop they might like to respond.

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Posts: 163
Joined: Jul 2003
Post: #2
10-07-2010 08:18 AM

I was in the local Age Concern shop here in Norwich and I saw a chap in the back room going along a rack with large numbers of assorted items of china, glass,ornaments, etc. and picking out anything which he obvious thought worthless and just chucking them in a bin bag.

I realise that they are limited for display space, but I'm sure that most of the things probably had a use to someone and could possibly be put in a Bargain bin or similar for a few pence each.

It annoys me that when someone gives things out of the goodness of their soul that its just thrown away.

We have plastic bags through our doors every week asking for donations, mainly of clothes, from many well known Charities. I don't know where they think we accumulate all these clothes from! We sometimes get 2 or 3 bags in a week. I feel loathe to put stuff out as unless its pretty good quality stuff its probably just going to be junked if they can't resell it.

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Posts: 653
Joined: Feb 2007
Post: #3
10-07-2010 10:22 AM

Don't know if anyone saw 'Mary Queen of Charity Shops' when it was on the telly.

The vast majority of the stuff charity shops get is worthless rubbish that really can't be sold, their shelf space is limited, and they have to pay to get the **** taken away.

Most people get rid of things for a good reason.

There's a limited market for bad ornaments, even in Forest Hill Wink

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Posts: 52
Joined: Jan 2007
Post: #4
12-07-2010 01:21 PM

I used to spend my Saturdays working in a charity shop in Woolwich for Greenwich Mind. Sadly there was an awful lot of tat that had to go into black bags for jumble sale collection. I don't think there are so many jumble sales these days as things tend to go to boot sales or are sold on E-Bay. I agree that it's ridiculous that things like books are thrown out but unfortunately some people just chuck everything indiscriminately into a bin liner (soiled and all) and leave it outside the charity shop.
I know it is more work but it might be better if charity shops offered to sell stuff for hard-up customers (rather than them needing to flog it on E-Bay). We used to do that and go 50-50 on donations and it improved the quality of the stuff on sale and helped everybody as the sellers also often picked up something they wanted to spend the money on.
As for the bags through the door, I don't think I've seen a genuine charity one for a long time - all seem to be for collection by exporters to Eastern Europe and the like and I think a bit of a scam.
If anyone can recommend a genuine charity that would collect I could find a load of stuff to unload.

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Posts: 1,111
Joined: Jun 2008
Post: #5
12-07-2010 01:51 PM

The British Heart Foundation collect. I just had them pick up about 150 books from me. And they do put bags through the letter box - I just had one today. If you want a pick up, call the Catford shop on 020 8690 8517.

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Posts: 52
Joined: Jan 2007
Post: #6
12-07-2010 03:41 PM

Thanks for this - will do.

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Posts: 1,538
Joined: Apr 2006
Post: #7
13-07-2010 10:38 AM

Took a travel cot and a high chair in a week ago. High chair was refused as it folds and didnt have instructions so was a health and safety risk, travel cot was accepted. Now, our travle cot was designed by satan and was one of the more dangerous things in our house and was glad to get rid of it.

Sorry to say that I wont bother with the charity shop any more but shall go back to Freecycle.

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Posts: 1,111
Joined: Jun 2008
Post: #8
13-07-2010 10:58 AM

It is very difficult shifting baby stuff because of Health and Safety. Understandable, but frustrating. I have a whole bunch of car seats, but they haven't gone to waste as they have been appropriated by my cats.

I did manage to give some stuff to a charity that helps young families. It was a few years ago, but I think I got their contact information from the Lewisham council website.

Otherwise, Freecycle is the way to go.

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Posts: 32
Joined: Nov 2007
Post: #9
13-07-2010 11:58 AM

A few years ago I decided to get rid of all my baby equipment, as I also found it difficult to donate them to charity shops. I placed an small ad in a local parents magazine (the ones that come home in the book bags). I described what I had and said I was raising money for charity. I invited people to make cheques out to "Friends of Lewisham Hospital" direct when they collected items, that way I got rid of everything and helped fund new equipment for the children's wards. I had a nice letter explaining where the money goes from UHL.

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Posts: 490
Joined: Jul 2010
Post: #10
14-07-2010 09:14 AM

Indeed many are very snooty, a few years back, we asked many shops if they wanted some childrens toys, including a slide, most of these toys had been hardly used, all said no thanks, even the Sally Army, eventually we took them to the childrens ward in the hospital who were more than happy to have them

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Posts: 36
Joined: Mar 2010
Post: #11
14-07-2010 01:10 PM

I quite like the snooty charity shop in question, I admire how they daily update their window displays....

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Posts: 104
Joined: Apr 2010
Post: #12
17-07-2010 04:19 PM

Most charity shops are run by volunteers and have to put up with receiving lots of junk from the public on a daily basis. Many donors use charity shops to get rid of their junk because they can't be bothered to visit the local recycling bank.

I have volunteered in a charity shop and was amazed at the items some people would donate. I mean, sex toys and used underwear are hardly items you would want to see on the shelves in a well respected charity shop!

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Posts: 1
Joined: Feb 2015
Post: #13
09-04-2015 01:21 PM

Apparently British Red Cross in Penge (opposite McDonalds) will do house collection.
It is now run by new friendly staff and they have lots of great clothes, bric-a-brac, paintings and more. Defo one of my top list for charity shopping, great atmosphere too!!! Thumbsup

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Posts: 221
Joined: Jan 2007
Post: #14
10-04-2015 08:33 PM

St Georges Charity shop on Perry Hill is always grateful for donations. It is the most chaotic charity shop I have ever been in though, and the opening times are a bit random, but whenever I have bought anything it's always a quarter of the price of other charity shops.

I do agree charity shops have to put up with a lot of junk - I've seen stuff just dumped outside the charity shops that is quite obviously only suitable for the bin, who on earth would do that? It's pretty sad.

Otherwise I have found Lewisham Freecycle is a good place to get rid of baby items that it's difficult to sell. I think sometimes you just have to accept you won't get your money back on these things.

The Foodbank on Malham Road behind the Fire Station sometimes needs donations of particular items like towels, mens clothing, but you need to pop in and check with them what they are short of.

This post was last modified: 10-04-2015 08:36 PM by Jane2.

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Posts: 1,111
Joined: Jun 2008
Post: #15
10-04-2015 10:09 PM

British Heart Foundation also do collections, especially for larger items or if you have a large quantity to donate. The Catford branch collects from SE23.

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Posts: 136
Joined: Nov 2010
Post: #16
12-04-2015 10:18 AM

I like the Red Cross staff at Forest Hill shop. They always seem genuinely grateful for donations. It's good of them to volunteer their time. I know some of the stuff I give might not make it to the shelf and I am fine with it. It's none of my business what they decide to do with the donations.

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Posts: 15
Joined: Dec 2007
Post: #17
13-04-2015 03:35 PM

I gave up donating to charity shops after volunteering for a well known local charity a couple of years ago. Every monday a van would turn up and dump stuff they deemed unsellable in their shops in a skip. Yes, some of it was junk but there were stacks of books, dvds, computer games, kids' toys and electrical goods that could easily have made them money. I'm not ashamed to say I rescued quite a few items for myself.

I stopped giving my time and money altogether once I'd seen first hand the unforgivable squandering of money that had been given in good faith.

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Posts: 513
Joined: May 2012
Post: #18
13-04-2015 04:09 PM

TBH, I think it's a combination of 'branding' and the attempt to maximise revenue through their floorspace. Someone earlier on referred to the Mary Portas programme which I recall made the point about the junk that people 'donate'.

But not many steps beyond junk' is the sort of 'shelf clutter' stuff that might make 20p or 30p (and we immediately think, why wouldn't a charity be grateful for small mercies?) but it takes up space that could be better deployed on more valuable stuff that generates more cash.

I mentioned branding - and I think there's a case, too, that some charities would rather not become known for the sort of tat that would struggle to sell at a really bad boot sale. That doesn't attract the sort of buyers who will shell out more serious money for quality goods. Didn't Oxfam become famous not just for cheap clothes but for cheap, good quality clothes? Branding, you see...

Before anyone gets upset, I'm not criticising any of the things that people here have said they've donated or rescued or seen being chucked out - not least because I haven't seen them! But remember that charities are professionally financially managed - they have to be these days - and so they may make decisions that might appear ungrateful. (And of course they may make decisions that are simply bad decisions, if perhaps made with the right intentions!)

One thought does occur to me: those distance learning accountancy textbooks. Anyone who needs those kinds of books is, in my view, extremely unlikely to wander into the Red Cross shop looking for them. They aren't going to attract the interest of the casual browser. And if they are at all out of date, then they are worse than useless because they contain information that is no longer correct. I've often seen out-of-date legal textbooks and had the same thought: they should get rid of them to make space for something that someone will want to buy - and in doing so prevent some generous soul from buying them in the mistaken belief that their law-student cousin will find them useful.

Sorry - I seem to be bereft of any helpful, positive suggestions - other than to say that the Sue Ryder shop took our wire coathangers that the Red Cross shop didn't want.

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Posts: 513
Joined: May 2012
Post: #19
13-04-2015 04:14 PM

By the way, the Heart Foundation shop in Lewisham gladly took our enormous, out-of-date telly a couple of years ago. Every now and then we get a 'Gift aid' letter because they've managed to sell either the telly or the VCR or the cables and stuff that went with it - so we're glad it has helped.

They sadly had to refuse to accept an absolutely beautiful leather armchair (that I didn't really want to part with) because it was made in the years before 'fire safety' stickers became mandatory.

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Posts: 1,111
Joined: Jun 2008
Post: #20
13-04-2015 04:17 PM

I've pretty much given up donating to charity shops too as I'm doubtful that things don't just end up in landfill. That's not to criticise the shops - they have limited resources and staff. But unless I have something that will very clearly make them decent money, I don't bother.

Instead I either give things away or make sure they are properly recycled. It takes more effort that shoving things in a charity bag, but I think it's more environmentally sound in the long run. It also makes me think carefully about what I buy. And I support charities with cash instead.

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