I was in the big city today and unusually, child free and with an hour or so to spare, so I decided to go and have a trawl round the charity shops near Surgeons Hall. This used to be one of my favourite ways to spend a Friday afternoon when I had my first baby and no car...I would get the train into town then walk with the buggy up to Hubby's office, take his car (so he could go out for a few pints after work) and go to the supermarket on the way home. Between the station and the office there were seventeen charity shops and as a newly skint single income family with a horrid mortgage and a new baby, charity shops were great places to get all sorts of things. I really enjoyed the Friday runs. The shops were always full of treasures and in these days, 14 years or so ago, charity shops were really cheap too.
Anyway I do go to a lot of charity shops even now, though the financial pressures have eased off a bit as the interests rates dropped. (15% back then, argh...) I get garden and camping clothes for the kids, odd bit of Lego, interesting bric a brac, books etc. Yarn and needles too and even a spinning wheel once! Our local shops are still well worth going to.
But the town ones? What happened? They are all half empty and what stock they do have is often 50% bought-in goods. I've got no problems with buying Fairtrade, you understand, but I do expect the majority of items to be donated ones in the Oxfam shop for example. And the prices! Some of the prices are getting close to what you would pay for similar new items. I know that a lot of the bigger chains of charity shops invest money in refurbishing up shops and presenting goods in a way similar to normal shops but really, it's getting too much. And, you know, a lot of the donated stock was looking pretty tired too. Lots of bobbly old t-shirts and acrylic jumpers.
Was very disappointing. I was hoping for some of the old treasure-hunting excitement and I got nothing. Bah. I had to settle for the excitement of Sainsburys instead. Is it because there are less people donating in town areas, do you think? Or more people using the charity shops in these credit-crunch times?