a pair of leather brogues, a poetry book, a velvet coat, an embroidered tablecloth, and a saucepan. These are just a few of the things I have recently bought from charity – where someone else’s trash became my treasure.
I have also donated a big bag full of unwanted toys and games. Hopefully, my cast-offs are destined to become the precious discoveries of others too, who stumbled across them in a serendipitous browsing session.
This circular shop
the relationship is just one of the many joys of charity. They extend the usefulness of objects, which instead of ending up in landfills, are appreciated by new owners. Second-hand donations make up 90% of an average charity product range, comprising mostly clothing, but also furniture, homeware, books, and much more.
Yet with growing awareness of the benefits of a circular economy, a certain discernment has developed among charity shoppers which have influenced the relevant language in recent years. Instead of “second-hand clothes”, we now speak of “antique artifacts”, and “pre-loved” or “vintage” finds. What was once considered scruffy is now “shabby-chic”.
So charity shops are no longer the preserve of those seeking cheaper goods out of necessity, but the highly revered stamping ground of savvy shoppers. These knowing consumers are not just in search of everyday useful items, but seek creative and artistic trophies, swooping like jackdaws onto rich assortments of paraphernalia in these contemporary Aladdin’s caves.
The economic value of charity shops is considerable too. There are currently over 11,000 of them in the UK, raising approximately £270 million a year for all kinds of important work. This means vital funding for medical research, tackling poverty, improving child welfare, and a multitude of other causes.