Letter: Charity shops - We are not in competition

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I write as a charity shop volunteer and in response to Neil Anderson’s letter on charity shops (March 3 - Do we want to have so many?).

I’m not quite sure if he was blaming the charity shop sector or the council for the high costs of business rates, but I would like to point out that the Save the Children shop on Commercial Street is subject to these same costs and overheads.

I hardly think that the town is overrun with charity shops - even if there are 11.

True, our stock is donated but the competition from the ‘real’ stores means that we have to keep our prices low.

What profit we do make goes directly to supporting disadvantaged children in 120 countries around the world, including the UK – often providing services that governments choose not to provide.

Save the Children has a proud history of keeping its administrative costs down, spending only 1p out of every pound raised on staff salaries and head office overheads.

True, the shop is staffed entirely by volunteers – most of whom are of retirement age but still keen to offer their services to support such a worthy cause.

Many of them admit that serving in the shop helps to keep them active and young at heart.

I believe we also offer an informal service to many of our regular customers who come to browse, chat and look for that unusual item.

There are already several people who come from afar to go round the charity shops in Harrogate but surely that is to be welcomed as it brings money into the town. Some even carry a Bettys carrier bag.

They may be looking for bargains but we are regularly asked to recommend a cafe or for directions to other shops.

Do we have too many charity shops? I am tempted to say ‘yes’ but only because I want to minimise the competition for our own.

Seriously, we offer a different style of shopping and I am sure that if Mr Anderson did a proper survey he would find that we are not really in competition with the major stores and certainly not with cafes.

Jeanette Mowat

Save The Children shop

volunteer, Harrogate


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