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Interview With a Charity Shop Worker

By: Sarah O'Hara BA (hons) - Updated: 25 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
Charity Donation Shop Clothing Wearable

Laura Grant is a Senior Retail PR Executive at Cancer Research UK. We caught up with her to get the lowdown on how you can make the best donations possible to charity shops and how to make life as easy as possible for the shops.

1. Is there anything that charity shops are often short of?

Charity shops are short of everything, including both male and female clothing, shoes and accessories, books, CDs, DVDs and household goods. To address this one example of what we're doing is holding a ‘handbag amnesty’ throughout September where we’re asking all women to donate a handbag they no longer use as handbags sell like hot cakes in all of our shops

2. Are there any things you shouldn't donate? Why?

This varies depending on the shop but more often than not, they’re unable to sell electrical goods as most shops don’t have the facility to carry out the necessary safety checks. Unfortunately, we tend not to have room in our shops to sell large items of furniture. If in doubt, the best thing to do is call the shop first and check.

3. Is it true that you should only donate wearable clothes?

Some people say that worn-out clothes are a burden to charity shops, but others say they can make money from rags so you should still donate them. What is the situation?

We welcome all clothing donations. We can only put clothes of a wearable quality on the shop floor, but anything which is of poor quality can be recycled and the charity still makes a profit from this. We never discourage any form of clothing donation.

4. How should you present items for charity shops to make things easy for the shop?

The best way is to wash and dry the clothes, then bag them up, ready to donate. Shops don’t have washing machines so if clothes are dirty, unfortunately they can’t go out on shop floor.

5. Is there a shortage of charity shop donations in the UK?

We’re desperately short of stock at the moment. The credit crunch has seen a rise in people flocking to our shops to bargain hunt. At the same time, people are holding onto their clothes for longer rather than buying new and donating, so our shops are finding it difficult to keep up with demand.

Charity Shop Facts

  • Charity shop recycling saves around 2.5 million tonnes of C02 every year.
  • Charity shop recycling of textiles saves substantial amounts too.
  • Some charities will collect from houses.
  • 93% of all charity shop items are donated by a member of the UK public.
  • There are estimated to be around 7,500 charity shops in the UK.
  • There are over 120,000 charity shop volunteers in the UK.

Anyone who wants to help raise money for Cancer Research’s vital research into cancer, (or any other charity), can volunteer to set up a donation station, for example in their workplace, gym, or yoga class. Just Google “Cancer research donation station” to find out how. Other individual charities have their own similar schemes as well - check charity websites for details.

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