Charity Shops: Retailing Consumption and Society

By Suzanne Horne; Avril Maddrell | Go to book overview

7

'It's all in the mix'

Profits, life cycles, lifestyles and the future of charity shops

It can be seen from the previous chapters that to refer to 'charity shops' as indicative of a whole sector is as problematic as generalising about 'clothes shops' or 'food stores'. As the charity retail sector has developed, so the continuum of types has stretched in terms of store size, store function, the merchandise mix and the retail structure, with some charities operating a nation-wide chain of stores and others a single autonomous retail unit. One end of the scale shows charity shops with unrivalled retail professionalism, with shops at the opposite end primarily offering goods as a safety net for the socially excluded in society (although it has to be said that the majority of charity shops can be found in the middle ground, blending these functions). The corollary is a varied customer base, with consumption in charity shops being influenced by a complex overlapping and interfacing of motives, influences and desires on the part of shoppers, including thrift, economic necessity and lifestyle. Lifestyle can influence not only individual consumption choice, but also social interaction and even the creation of social networks in and through the space of charity shops in specific locations. Needless to say, these influences are circulating and reciprocal, with lifestyle in turn potentially being influenced by individuals' social experience of the charity shop. This chapter draws together these different functions of, and experiences within, charity shops, looking to their future as retail, consumption and social spaces.


The charity shop as social space

All charity shops function as social spaces. They are use spaces that generate interaction between shoppers, donors, volunteers and managers, but can also become meeting places, places of identification and sociation. The physical space or locale of the shop can also be divided

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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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