Last week I wrote about the faux fur coat I picked up in a charity shop. I bought it from a shop I visit frequently and buy from often – the North Leeds branch of Mind. It was priced at £45 which I considered too high for a charity shop purchase, so after a chat with the manager (who I’ve spoken to a few times during my visits), I asked if she’d consider an offer. She was happy to, and five minutes later I left a happy customer.
I didn’t consider it ‘haggling’. In fact, I didn’t think anything of it until someone left a comment on the post saying I’d cheated the charity (and the people it helps) out of £10. And that got me thinking.
I’m a regular second hand shopper and visit a range of charity shops, supporting both local and national charities, on a weekly basis. I know many of the volunteers well and can often be found chatting away about my latest purchases. I would much rather buy my vintage faux fur jacket in a charity shop for a decent price, donating money to a worthy cause while I’m at it, than in an overpriced vintage shop or a high street store. But it’s still a purchase, and I’m still handing over my own cash. And I’ve spent enough of my salary in charity shops to know when something’s overpriced.
So, what’s better? Walking away without spending a penny because an item’s overpriced, which means it’ll probably linger on the rails for months? Or having a friendly chat with the manager and coming to an agreement everyone’s happy with? When I asked on Twitter, opinions were mixed. Some said they’d never question a charity shop’s prices on principle, while others said it’s better to donate something to charity than nothing at all. The response that summed it up perfectly for me was from belledidyoutell, who manages a charity shop. She said it completely depends on the situation, and I think that’s key to this discussion. I would never quibble over a few pence, or ‘try my luck’ to save more money. I would also never ask for money off in a charity shop I’d never visited before. But in this situation, it didn’t feel wrong to do so. If the manager had said no to an offer, I would’ve accepted with grace and left without the coat.
So, what do you think? Would you ask for an offer in a charity shop? Have you asked before? Does it depend on the situation or is it a clear cut case of cheating a charity? Share your thoughts and experiences below.
And in the interest of keeping things positive, here are a few of my favourite charity shop bargains…
The faux fur coat in question, from Mind
These vintage high waisted trousers were from St Gemma’s Hospice
A cute floral tea dress, also from St Gemma’s
This sunflower skirt is a summer favourite, bought from an RSPCA shop
This Vogue mirror was another Mind find
The wicker basket that holds logs for our fire was from Age UK
A vintage bag from St Gemma’s