Do you think: that they are cluttered shops filled with old unwanted clothes and other items that smell a little strange? That they get everything for free and as a result you expect them to sell their goods for next to nothing? It’s just a shop selling very cheap stuff? It’s a dumping place for rubbish you no longer want? … and I could go on!
The reality is that a charity shop is not much different from any other shop.
It has overheads, it has various costs, and it must make a profit. The difference is that profits do not go to owners or shareholders instead its used to cover costs of the various causes the NGO is involved in.
Think of the charity shop as a fund raising tool to raise funds to cover cost of running various causes. Be they of a social nature, such as poverty aleviation, people care, animal wellness, or for environmental protection or even protection of basic human rights.
The need is enormous, the causes are many but funding to support them is scarce. Charity shops profits often top-up the funding needed to support just causes.
But if you love shopping (everybody loves shopping), and you are searching for that special unique type item, charity shops certainly are your one-stop-shop and should be on top of your where to shop list.
Let’s look at some of the myths and how charity shops actually work.
Myth 1: Charity shops don’t pay rent and they get discounts on utilities (water, electricity, etc)
I really don’t know where this idea originally came from, but as somebody who not only started a shop but also works in ASMAA’s charity shop, I can assure you there are no discounts. So many people assume that Charity Shops don’t pay rent, or that they get discounted utility rates.
Which as far from the truth as you could be. Charity shops DO NOT get preferential treatment from landlords nor from utility companies. In fact, all charity shops pay the same as any normal shop. We pay rent, gas and electricity, water, telephones, Internet, insurance and security. Some pay for volunteer’s insurance, training, refreshments and travelling, and a few pay shop employees’ wages too.
At ASMAA we run two premises, the shop in Portimão where we hold small furniture items, clothing, linen, antiques, collector items, gifts and bric-a-brack, and a warehouse were we hold bigger furniture items like mattresses (in very good condition), beds, rugs, fridges, tables and chairs, lounge suits, etc.. Both premises cost a lot of money to run, in spite of ASMAA not having salaried staff.
At our shop in Portimão and at our warehouse in Barão de São João, not only stores items that we sell, but also items that we give away free of charge to people in need across the Algarve, or to people affected by natural disasters such as fires, floods, etc… and let’s get real, storing extra items that will not be sold, but just given away costs a lot of money.
Myth 2: Charity shops get everything for free.
I hear this one quite a lot, usually when people are complaining about prices being too expensive. Don’t get me wrong; charity shops get some of our donations dropped at the shop, which are kindly donated for free. But that only covers a very small percentage of stock, but in spite of the good heart of donors, there's stil some costs attached.
The reality is that most donated items are collected by our team - people often forget that collections also cost charity shops money. Income from the shop is also used to cover vehicle costs, insurance, vehicle maintenance, fuel, etc. - In addition, there's also other costs such as cleaning, repurposing or repairing donated items. Not to mention the cost of disposal of items that are beyond repair and can't be recycled.
At ASMAA we also keep items on consignment, items that were re-purposed/up-cycled or are brand new and are made by artisans and crafters. Sales of these items also assist these artisans and crafters with putting food on the table and keeping a roof over their heads. We get a percentage from the sale of these items.
So next time, you start moaning that you’re not able to buy a coat, a dress or a bed sheet for 50 cents remember that not everything donated to the shop is free stock, and that each item on sale has in fact cost the charity money, even if they were originally donated for free.
Myth 3: Clothes | Linen | Curtains in a charity shop are dirty and smelly.
This stereotype always amazes us. Charity shops have standards that have to be met just like any other business venture. If we at ASMAA filled our shop with dirty, damaged and even worn out items, nobody would buy them. So why would we waste our time filling the shop floor with items that nobody would buy?
The reality is that each item is checked and double-checked before being placed on a rail, shelf or in the shop floor. All items must be in good condition, free from stains and with no nasty smells. Every week we take items to our homes to wash, and bring them back properly washed and cleaned.
One of our objectives is to keep out of the waste dumps as many items as possible, others that can’t be salvaged after cleaning, we recycle them if they are recyclable, or if they can be used for example as bedding by animal charities, old towers that are worn but clean and can be used by Bombeiros (fire brigade) during fire season, etc.
Now that you know a bit more about "Charity Shops" Get Ready, set … shop!
If the shopping bug has bitten you, pop by ASMAA’s charity shop in Portimão and pick up a treasure. We regularly rotate our inventory and feature seasonal bargains. All monies provide vital funds to support our various social and environmental causes.
or just get Ready, set … donate!
If you’re looking to donate your used items, ASMAA accepts donations for furniture, clothing, accessories, books, CDs, DVDs, electrical goods and lots more. Simply drop into our shop in Portimão and leave your donation or give us a call to arrange a FREE pick-up.