charity/thrift/goodwill shops
Posted: 29 June 2007 11:22 AM   [ Ignore ]
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In the UK we have Charity Shops where the money from the donated goods you buy goes to the charity in question. I reckon one of the reasons I do so well out of these (I also contribute stuff) is because many people are afraid of being seen in them by friends or acquaintances. (Perhaps they associate the ‘charity’ part with admitting to being in straitened circumstances or being in need of charity which is ludicrous and not my problem. More likely it is snobbism.)

I believe they are called Thrift Shops or Goodwill Shops in the States and Canada (and elsewhere?)
Thrift seems as blunt to me as Charity and maybe as off-putting to some? Goodwill sounds the most euphemistic but perhaps the best in attracting potential customers to a good cause unless everyone where it is used recognises the name for what it is.

Any ideas about how and where these various usages came about (and is my negative connotations theory valid in your parts)?

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Posted: 29 June 2007 11:40 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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We don’t use Charity in our parts (upper midwest US), but my sense of it is that the use of Charity in England and elsewhere derives from an older meaning of the word. “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels but have not charity ... “

In my part of the world, The organization with the corporate name ”Goodwill Industries” run something called Goodwill Stores.  The ”Salvation Army” runs “Thrift Shops” (as do other non-profit organizations).

In both of these, all items are donated and often of good quality.  They are bought by folks in all walks of life and the proceeds go to help the charitable agency.

[ Edited: 29 June 2007 11:45 AM by Oecolampadius ]
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Posted: 29 June 2007 11:48 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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"Goodwill” shops may be used by some as a generic term, but Goodwill Industries is a specific organization and one that has been in the charitable services business for over 100 years. They were and are a very visible presence in So. Cal. so at least around here, “Goodwill Store” is not as generic as it may be on other places. All Goodwill stores are thrift stores, but not all thrift stores are Goodwill stores.

I don’t think shopping habits are board discussion material.

edit: pipped!

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Posted: 30 June 2007 11:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Interesting differences. (I sometimes buy new products like food.) Oxfam in the UK employs managers for each shop who must provide financial results which is reasonable. Probably all do and like in the States none of the goods are shoddy. There may be a stigma attached to being seen in one here though this is off-topic again, as you said, happydog.
The Biblical sense of ‘charity’ I completely missed and this makes perfect sense though it is probably also missed by shoppers. In the UK Salvation Army charity shops are the only Christian-affiliated ones I can think of.

I wonder how far back the philanthropic ‘shop’ usage goes and what such shops are called on the Continent.

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Posted: 01 July 2007 08:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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venomousbede - 29 June 2007 11:22 AM

Thrift seems as blunt to me as Charity and maybe as off-putting to some?

I’m interested if you’re getting a negative meaning from thrift other than cheap and economical.  Many people are certainly willing to buy things cheaply who would be hesitant to accept charity.

At one point “savings and loan associations” (building societies?) were sometimes called thrifts, but I don’t think that’s current even though we still have an “Office of Thrift Supervision” http://www.ots.treas.gov/ .

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Posted: 04 July 2007 12:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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I differentiate “thrift” from “goodwill” and “charity”. I don’t think that “thrift” necessarily has a connotation of being poor. It simply means “low cost”. Both “Goodwill” (as a trade name) and “charity” are synonymous with hand-me-downs. “Goodwill” has other meanings in business, also, which have nothing to do with charity.

PS: Myridon, you mention “savings and loan associations”, with the add on: building societies. What do you mean by “building societies”? My father used an SLA to buy life insurance for his kids and my mother back in the 1940’s.

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Posted: 04 July 2007 03:00 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Savings and loan societies often had a goal of provinding mortgages for folks of limited income.  See It’s a Wonderful Life.

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Posted: 04 July 2007 07:20 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Eyehawk - 04 July 2007 12:35 AM

PS: Myridon, you mention “savings and loan associations”, with the add on: building societies. What do you mean by “building societies”? My father used an SLA to buy life insurance for his kids and my mother back in the 1940’s.

I added that notation to be clear to this international audience as I believe that “building society” is what S&L’s are called outside of the US.

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Posted: 05 July 2007 02:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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UK charity shops attract lower or zero business rates from the councils in whose area they are. I believe registered charities (a legal entity) are also exempt from charging VAT in the UK and they also get tax breaks. It’s a charity shop if its run by a registered charity - otherwise its a secondhand shop. There are other charity shops run by religious organisations in the UK, primarily those dealing with aid to the developing world. I believe Christian Aid has shops and Traidcraft, which kickstarted the fair trade movement in the UK is also a religious-based (but I don’t think of any particular denomination) charity. As I don’t live in an ethnically diverse area of the UK I don’t know if there are Islamic, Jewish or other based charity shops in the UK, but it would surprise me if there weren’t.

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Posted: 12 July 2007 04:29 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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There is a fairly large insurance/bank company called Scottish Widows who you have to salute for never having re-branded.

None of the charity shops I frequent or know of in the UK are religious, flynn. Age Concern, Help the Aged, Cancer Research, People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals, Animal Shelter, Oxfam, Scope, British Heart Foundation, &c. Is it the same with thrift shops in the States and on the Continent? The charity in question is specified in the shop’s name, right?

I’m not sure about my theory that some people are put off by the words “charity” or “thrift”. Everyone knows they are an admirable cause, though. Maybe it is just the idea of being seen in them which is galling - more fool galled folk. People often ask me who my tailor is.

Now I think about it, 30 years ago there were only Oxfams in the UK (one in my hometowm but now all the above listed are present) and everyone called them Oxfams, so “charity shop” must be a fairly recent generic British term.

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Posted: 13 July 2007 03:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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venomousbede - 12 July 2007 04:29 PM

None of the charity shops I frequent or know of in the UK are religious, flynn. Age Concern, Help the Aged, Cancer Research, People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals, Animal Shelter, Oxfam, Scope, British Heart Foundation, &c. Is it the same with thrift shops in the States and on the Continent? The charity in question is specified in the shop’s name, right?

No the ones you mention aren’t. But there are religious charities - Christian Aid, CAFOD, Tearfund I’m just not sure whether they have their own permanent shops. Certainly they trade online, CAFOD does a gift scheme like Oxfam’s (buy something for the developing world on someone’s behalf and get a card to send to them). Tearfund (who state their religious basis in all their material) supply Oxfam and christian shops with fair trade goods. As for Save The Children their founder, Eglantyne Jebb’s christianity informed all her work, Save The Children don’t state they are religious but they do have permanent shops - there’s one here.

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Posted: 13 July 2007 06:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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venomousbede - 12 July 2007 04:29 PM

None of the charity shops I frequent or know of in the UK are religious, flynn.

The Salvation Army is a religious organizaton with shops in the UK. The UK website for SATCoL ( http://www.satradingco.org ), the the “textile recycling” side of the business, seems to avoid mentioning anything about religion or the actual Salvation Army organization despite featuring their shield and the “Belief in Action” motto.

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Posted: 13 July 2007 06:32 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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I’d forgotten the Sally Army. They put recycling bins around the town to collect for their shops.

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Posted: 13 July 2007 11:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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In this day and age of easy credit, not many people buy in thrift shops anymore except the poor who really can’t get a credit card.  But even most those people now have rent-to-own stores where they can get new eletronics and stuff, and make weekly or monthly payments.  In previous decades there were “layaway” plans (which still exist but aren’t as common) where you made your periodic payments and then got your merchandise.

Also, I’ve noticed that the term Savings and Loan (or Building and Loan as in It’s a Wonderful Life) has fallen out of favor in the U.S. since the debacle resulting from deragulation in the 1980’s.  The term “Savings Association”, or in advertising just “Savings” seems prevalent.  And by the way I used to work in a savings and loan and by the 1970’s the mortgages weren’t just for “people of limited means”.

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Posted: 13 July 2007 11:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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jtab4994 - 13 July 2007 11:41 AM

In this day and age of easy credit, not many people buy in thrift shops anymore…

You might find this information from the National Association of Resale and Thrift Shops interesting.

“While many businesses close their doors every day, resale remains healthy and continues to be one of the fastest growing segments of retail. With new stores entering the industry and current establishments opening additional locations, the industry is experiencing a growth of approximately 5% a year.”

“Resale is a multi-billion dollar a year industry. Goodwill Industries alone generated $1.8 billion in retail sales from their more than 2,000 Not For Profit thrift stores across America in 2006—representing a 67% increase from 2001.”

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Posted: 13 July 2007 10:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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Here’s another thriving church charity shop in London.  Students here happily buy clothes from charity shops and there’s also a market for quality secondhand clothes.

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