I was in a charity shop at the weekend, nothing new there. While I was on my knees (ditto) rifling through piles of books and records, a woman came in wanting to return a purchase.
Staff behind the counter were perfectly nice to her, but the shop’s policy is to issue credit notes and not cash refunds, and they told her so. This lady became very distressed, saying there was nothing in the shop she wanted and could she have the £2.50 please?
The answer was no, sadly. Shop policy is king.
The lady was vulnerable, I think. It’s not my place to judge, but the I reckon she fell firmly within the remit of the people the charity tries to help. She needed that £2.50 pretty badly. £2.50 is a lot of money when you’ve got sod all.
I “bought” her credit note from her, so she got her cash in the end (I was buying something anyway, I’m not fishing for compliments here) but I do think sometimes charity shops forget what they’re actually there for.
They raise money for their charity, yes – but they provide a service.
It’s all very well for the likes of me indulging in a cultural pick me up of a weekend, so I can smugly post up pictures on Facebook of nice things I’ve bought at pocket money prices, but in many cases charity shops are the only place where some people can afford to buy clothes, and the basics.
I honestly believe that in my community some wouldn’t have cutlery and plates to eat from, if charity shops weren’t around.
So yeah, I thought I’d get that one off my chest.
On a lighter note, I have a personal essay on fan fiction in Glasgow’s Fuck What You Love, out next month. It’s crowdfunded, and has exceeded the amount that editor Claire Biddles asked for by a fat margin, so that means there will be even more copies printed. (wahey to you, Glasgow)