I just wanted to follow up on my last blog post as it raised a number of differing opinions.
It's important to me personally that a charity shop is more than a retailer, it's a social enterprise. They're a place to get information and support, to get work experience, to get back on your feet - that goes for both volunteers who may have been ill and out of work and need experience and for those on a low income who need a cheap suit for an interview to improve their situation. They should be mutually beneficial for customers and staff.
I'm against price hikes because I'm against charities becoming big businesses which isolate sections of the community.
I remember once going into a charity shop with my mum who was in her mid-fifties at the time. The shop had recently been redone with these beautiful shop fittings and shiny wood floors and the stock had changed and the prices had increased to match the surroundings. My mum whispered to me 'this is just for young people now'. That was someone who had supported that particular charity for many many years, had a personal connection with it and now felt pushed out.
The charity shop was somewhere you could always go and be accepted. When I managed charity shops, elderly people would come in for a chat because they lived an isolated life - for some, talking in a shop is the only contact they had all day. They're also a place for people with poor mental or physical health to socialise and build relationships.
Poverty is on the rise in the UK, mental health issues are also on the rise. 'Traditional' charity shops play a massive part in supporting those affected. I know for certain a lot of the volunteers I worked with would never have approached a 'higher end' charity shop to gain experience.
Maybe there is call for a new-era charity shop where all the higher end items go but I think charities have a responsibility to carefully consider the area they're thinking of opening up in and consider if it could be detrimental.
I think a boutique-style shop is intimidating to some people - customers and potential volunteers alike - and something charities should never be is inaccessible - that's really the exact opposite of what they stand for.