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Charity shops are retail outlets which raise funds for their parent charities, by selling primarily second-hand donated goods. Only registered charities can set up charity shops.
Charity shops can help charities, the environment and the community, in a variety of ways:
Setting up and running a charity shop can raise funds for and awareness of your charity but is a complex business to undertake successfully. Proper consideration should be given to whether this is the best way to fundraise for your charity and if you do decide to proceed, then the undertaking should be overseen by someone with suitable retailing expertise.
In the nineteenth century, Salvation Army shops sold second-hand clothing to the urban poor. During the Second World War, other charities started to run shops as a way of raising money for the war effort and relieving hardship. It was after the conflict had ended that the first modern-style charity shops appeared, selling mainly donated goods to raise as much money as possible for the parent charity.
The first such shop was set up by Oxfam in 1947-8 in Oxford, to raise funds to relieve famine in Nazi-occupied Greece. The charity’s name in fact originated as a contraction of ‘Oxford Committee for Famine Relief’.
There are now more than 7,500 charity shops in the UK, supporting more than 300 charities. Charity Finance’s 2008 survey revealed that the overwhelming majority of goods sold - 88 per cent - are donated. The remaining 12 per cent are new bought-in goods, such as Christmas cards or Fairtrade foods and crafts. As far as possible, goods that are not sold are recycled. For example, textile processors will buy bags of clothing and other materials from shops and then recycle them or export the items for reuse.
(Data taken from surveys conducted by Charity Finance and the Association of Charity Shops.)
Source: This guidance in this section, on getting started in charity retail, has been prepared with particular reference to John Tough’s book Setting Up and Running Charity Shops (The Association of Charity Shops).
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