Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Charity Shops

In our spare room we have a box for "To Ebay" and a box for "Charity Shop" stuff.  When the Ebay pile gets big enough, or has some items that are likely to make it worth listing, I have a bit if a purge.

When I do my research, I sometimes find that the item is too common to be worth selling (after ebay and Paypal fees),  or will require so much packaging (or prep for photographing) that it's just not worth the hassle of selling.   In those cases, the Charity shop pile gets bigger.

Sometimes I just can't bear to part with an item, even though it may have been hidden in one of the boxes for a long time... and even though I had forgotten all about it until I unearth it.

This time, I've been ruthless. No ruth was shown with various teapots, brand-new-with-tags clothes (BNWT),  or anything.  Everything went in one pile or the other. The Ebay stuff was listed,  and this morning I went to my nearly-local Oxfam shop to deliver a bootload of very saleable items (we try not to pass tat on to Oxfam).

It took me quite a long time to find a charity shop I was happy to go into to donate.    Even when I was working and was forever accumulating quality stuff which I donated,  I found that..that... gaze.. -  that the charity shop person often gives when you turn up to donate - really off-putting.  Even when I was smartly dressed in my work clothes.   Over time I visited many shops, never more than once because I just hated the experience.

Then, a few years ago, it was my the turn of my nearly-local Oxfam.  What a difference.  The ladies in there were very welcoming, and seemed genuinely pleased to be receiving a donation (even without seeing what was in the box/bag).   There is a little room at the back where a couple of them work on sorting out the stuff.   I went back another time, the same.  Each time, it was easier.  Even when they pounced on me on the way out to see if I would take part in the tag-a-bag scheme, it was OK.   I started to relax, a bit. Not much, but a bit.

Today was almost back to square one.  I think they had students looking after the shop.  As usual, I walked through the shop to the Little Room.  I walked in, and put my box - the first of several - on the floor, saying "is it OK to put this here?" as I did so.   I barely got a grunt from the girl who had her back to me.  I went back to my car, and hesitated before collecting the second box. I also had a suit-cover which contained a number of blouses (many BNWT).  I couldn't face going to another charity shop.

When I went in, I didn't get any reaction at all.   I had used my last-but-one bag tag, so I asked the girl how I could get some more.  She looked at me in panic, then turned round and appealed to someone else for help. 

The day was saved by a lovely lady who had been on the phone. She gave me some tags, apologised that I would have to write the number on myself, and thanked me for taking the time to donate.

So, I will go back again.

I don't know why I feel so uncomfortable about it.  The stuff I donate raises plenty of money (I know because I signed the gift aid thing and I get a report each year).  I don't want a fuss,  but I don't want to be ignored - or feel sneered at.

I think that making people (well, me) feel comfortable in that environment is a skill,  and it's a skill that few people seem to have.    I'm not sure it can be trained, either.

I hope that the shop appreciates the talent that those-with-it have.

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