Would you negotiate a price in a charity shop? Is it uncharitable to do so? These are a few questions I’ve been asked on Twitter in the last week or so and honestly coming up with an answer is a tough one and it involves quite the ramble. Obviously charity shops aren’t just there as a source of cheap clothing and furniture but to help support and raise money for a charity. Sure the low prices are attractive to the customers but I like to hope part of the reason many people shop in charity shops is to give something back. I’ve found spotting a bargain anything I like whatsoever in charity shops a bit of a tough one recently, donations are down because people are either keeping the items they would previously have donated or are selling them at bootsales or on eBay – which is totally understandable. This, along with high rents and a tough economy is why charity shop pricing seems to have jumped up drastically across the nation in the space of around 18 months.
It can be tough to swallow the price of a paperback book jumping up from 50p to £7, more than the price of the same book when brand new, when it totally prices you out of the market and from supporting that specific charity shop. And many, me included, think some charity shops are now pricing themselves out of the market altogether. I feel like I’m one of the very few charity shop bloggers who actually appreciate some of the vintage shops set up by charity shops, particularly the ones who know their stuff and understand the pieces they’re selling. So I’m not totally against things changing for charity shops, they have to keep up with the times and attract a younger shopper, it makes sense. But having a regular, back street charity shop price second hand Primark items 1/3 more expensive than a brand new piece from the Primark shop across the road all seems to be taking it too far.
When I mentioned this earlier in the year it caused a bit of a ‘hoo ha’ over on Twitter – I followed up. Some people feel charities should be able to price as they see fit even if it prices them out of the market. I can see where people are coming from with this argument but for me it just doesn’t work. Charity shoppers are a loyal crowd. They pop in on a weekly basis, they interact with the staff and many even offer their time and donations, it isn’t all about take, take, take. They understand the prices need to pay the rent, pay toward the charity and a million and one other expenses. What they don’t understand is pricing the loyal customers, the people who spend money in there every single week for years on end, out of the market. I’ve seen people argue that a charitable person wouldn’t mind paying £9 for a soiled George at Asda vest even if they can buy it brand new for £3, because they are supporting a charity. But really, really? Come on. If a charity shop wants to redecorate itself to look like a high street shop then it has to understand that specific market and current customer too (and yes I understand that that type of training isn’t available everywhere – that is a whole other debate, so let’s not dwell on that here for the moment), it has to understand that a charity shopper will pay a fair price of course but a second hand fair price is not the same as a brand new fair price.
Which leads me to haggling or negotiating a price in a charity shop. I’ll put it out there plain and simple, I’ve done it. Recently I saw an entire set of china sitting on a shelf week after week and knew it was over priced and would never, ever in a month of Sundays sell at the original marked price. It was priced at £79 for the first month before dropping to £35. The set wasn’t complete, wasn’t of value but was pretty. I had a word with the manager, a lady I’d come to know through my years of shopping in that shop and I managed to take it home for £20. Did I diddle a charity out of £15? Some people will undoubtably think I did but I certainly don’t. Jen at A Little Bird Told Me mentioned a similar involving a faux fur coat last year, so I’m glad to know I’m not alone. And if I’m a diddler, then at least I’m in good company. To answer those who tweeted to ask if it is okay to haggle in a charity shop – it really is a case by case scenario. If you’re a long time charity shopper you’ll come to notice what sells and what doesn’t and you’ll notice which pieces are over or under priced in your area (I always tell staff if I think they should bump up the price of something – brand new DM boots for £1?!) but don’t go wading in offering 50p for a beautiful, never worn woollen coat priced at a fiver. Haggling is never going to be my main method of shopping, mainly because I’m lazy but it certainly isn’t something I’ll ever discount, I (and many others) haggle it ‘regular’ shops too. So thriftsters, would you, have you, could you negotiate in a charity shop? Is it morally bankrupt to do so?