Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Charity Shop Revolution

So, Monday night was a chance to revisit the world of the charity shop in Mary Portas' follow-up documentary on BBC2, to last year's Mary, Queen of Charity Shops. I was an avid fan of the original program, as so much of it was faithful to my own experience of volunteering in such places - great fun when the donations are good, but often frustrating when people dump what should rightfully go in the bin (muddy socks and sweaty trainers, anyone?). I was looking forward to seeing Monday's program and checking on the progress of the project, however at least half an hour was dedicated to showing footage from her previous escapades in Save the Children. I'm not sure how good the long-term memory is of the average BBC2 viewer, but I found this a bit patronising and also sneaky; if they wanted to show 2009's episodes, I would gladly have watched them, but please don't fob me off with a so-called new program. The first 30 minutes left me with a strong sense of deja-vu, to say the least.

The remainder of the program dealt with seeking out a younger breed of volunteer, on a flexi-time basis, which naturally caused problems with the mainly elderly stalwarts of Save the Children. However, I think that flexible working hours from a volunteer should be regarded as help nonetheless, especially as the pace of life is a lot faster pre-retirement. You have to expect unexpected commitments and life's little interruptions these days, and it does become harder to commit to a regular time. The program proved that, although initially confusing, a new injection of people into the shops is definitely beneficial. I have found, as a younger volunteer, that my knowledge of current trends is also important when it comes to sorting stock, because some donated items may be seen as old-fashioned by one person, but might actually be coming back around again as the latest thing. Disregarding such items, or not selling them for their true retail value, is a waste and a shame. After all, the ultimate aim is to raise money for the charity.

Overall, I'm glad I watched the program, but would like to be considered less gullible by the BBC in future.


  1. I agree - it was purely lazy programming. Also a terrible example of bullying, and (for the majority of charity retailers - especially the good ones!) a very grating experience seeing things you've been doing for years lauded as Mary's ideas! grr!!

  2. True - I like what Mary is doing with her initiatives but obviously the program tarred all charity shops with the same brush, which luckily isn't the case (though my charity shop is very unfortunate with its donations too!).

  3. There's part of me, an unworthy part, that says I don't want charity shops to get clever. I'm trying to suppress the thought! Did you see her battling with the baker? I like Mary (I think) but part of me also wanted the tweeness of 'artisan' bakery to be defeated. The trouble is tho' it means that bakers will disappear if they don't get with what Yummy Mummies want. Do you think this tendency to fight the homogenous retail ideal means I have a problem with authority? That encapsulates Mary's problem really. She is my headmaster and she wants everybody to pass the exams, and by fuck she's going to make you think 'right'.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...