Why is “your store doesn’t look like a charity shop” considered a compliment?

After reading a post from a charity shop showing a display under the heading ‘looking more like an upmarket retailer than a charity shop’, I wondered is there anything really wrong with being a charity shop that looks like one? Today charity shops have come on leaps and bounds, with the vast majority of stores that you might visit, being not so much a jumble sale but a neatly presented selection of different departments. Hasn’t this notion of charity shops changed, why does it still seem to have negative connotations. There is a danger in the kind of stores that have really started standardising themselves and aiming to appear very high street, starting to loose all sense of individuality which is what charity shops do best. There are quite a few chains of charity shops that have adopted this approach, where they all look the same, all white walls, identical windows, wooden floors and standardised pricing. Whilst this can be pleasant for the shopper, the shop becomes a bit bland and unmemorable, but of course if it makes money for the charity then that approach has to have its place. But is it really what charity shops should be aiming for. It’s hard to find the balance between presenting your stock attractively and appealing to a wide customer base whilst still creating an environment that invites your customer to explore and get excited by finding unexpected items. Some of the most interesting shops to visit are those that create their own character, embracing their local market and making the most of the donations they get. These treasure trove stores are more like an experience to visit, with there unusual displays and quirky merchandising. Better for a shop to aspire to look like itself and be a little bit rough around the edges than a run of the mill high street retail store. At the end of the day the charity shops you will find yourself remembering are usually those that have embraced their community and let their teams drive their creative identities….


3 thoughts on “Why is “your store doesn’t look like a charity shop” considered a compliment?

  1. As strange as it may seem I prefer my charity shops to be of the smelly, messy and unorganised variety. Inevitably nice merchandising and more space given over to displays mean higher prices. We’re not talking huge increasing of course but the managers of these shops place more inherent value in an item when it’s ‘featured’ ir a section centre piece. The items surrounding these pieces go up slightly correspondingly.

    I still love charity shops and there are a number of ‘old school’ ones still out there but the whole attitude within the newer school variety has changed significantly. Many of these shops now deem themselves antiques and vintage experts because they own a Millers guide and prices are continually eeking up.

    The good these places do for their respective charities is of course measurable but I can’t help think that if they re-adopted the stack it high sell it cheap policy they’d open the doors to a new kind of customer similar to the one many they’ve now lost.

    When all the charity shops look like Primark or Robert Dyas I will stop patronising them..

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know what you mean, I’m very fond of visiting an ‘old school’ charity shop where the merchandising is more of a rummage style. There are still quite a lot of charity shops that have the pile it high sell it cheap strategy but it does seem that it is dying out. Its great for shops to have clearer sections like with Vintage for example but to make it easier for the customer not to just increase the price of every item by a fiver.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. HI , have you proof that prices go up if stock is well displayed and merchandised , I work for a charity with 34 shops , and we have lovely clean bright well stocked well organised shops. But our pricing is no different than it was 10 years ago when they were disorganised messes. We still offer real bargains.


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