Charity Shops: Retailing Consumption and Society

By Suzanne Horne; Avril Maddrell | Go to book overview

Introduction

Charity shops are now significant occupiers of the UK high street and are becoming familiar sights and sites of consumption in the USA, Australia, Canada and Ireland. They act as important fund-raisers for their parent charities, working internationally, nationally or locally, linking the localities where they are situated with national or even global charitable endeavours and chains of production and consumption. In common with many 'phenomena', charity shops have a longer history than is first apparent; this history and the growth of the sector in the UK is mapped out in brief below, to provide a context for the contemporary charity retailing sector.

The origins of charity retailing can be traced at least as far back as the latter part of the nineteenth century. In 1890 William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army, wrote In Darkest England and the Way Out, reviewing what was perceived as the crisis of the social conditions of the working classes of the time. He discussed what was needed to 'elevate the submerged' in society at that time, suggesting that there was a large amount of wastage of goods in well-to-do homes which could be channelled into supplying the 'submerged' with employment. This employment would manifest itself in the collection of quality second-hand goods from these affluent homes and would also be channelled into the renovation of less perfect goods in order to make them serviceable for further use. He organised teams of men to collect from these well-to-do Victorian homes and was at great pains to make sure that he was not taking goods away from other charities or charitable causes of the time. The goods collected were then sold from 'salvage stores' in London and provincial centres (Horne 2000).

Plate 0.1 is taken from the Salvation Army publication The War Cry of 8 February 1908 and shows the salvage store in Leeds. The original caption for the picture was 'By means of this store wastage from the homes of the wealthy is turned to profitable account in the

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Charity Shops: Retailing Consumption and Society
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Illustrations vi
  • Acknowledgements viii
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - Consumption, Identity and Locality 11
  • 2 - Retailing 20
  • 3 - Customers and Demand 38
  • 4 - Materialising Profit 55
  • 5 - Staffing the Charity Shop 71
  • 6 - Pricing and Competition 101
  • 7 - 'It's All in the Mix' 118
  • Bibliography 137
  • Index 146
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