At first glance this might seem like an odd title: of course charity shops must charge for the items they sell; that’s how they raise funds for the charity. But you’d be surprised at some of the challenges we encounter…

Haggling

We price our items according to a pricing guide so that the cost of an item is consistent and fair across our shops. Any other method of pricing could be very subjective and we want to make sure that the quality and longevity of an item is fairly reflected in the price. Savvy shoppers will nevertheless find many a bargain with quality and nearly new items being sold for knock-down prices.

Despite the opportunity to find an affordable yet perfect purchase, we do sometimes come up against the belief that because the item has been donated to us it must also be sold for less than it’s worth - and haggling ensues. However, we have a duty of care to our donors who have chosen our charity to get a fair price for their donations, the money from which goes back into the charity, helping to keep our helicopters flying.

If a particularly valuable item is donated to us - a painting for instance - we may seek to auction it to maximise the positive impact on the charity. 

Theft

It might be hard to imagine that someone might steal from a charity shop, but unfortunately it’ does happen. Unfortunately there have been incidents when an individual has taken clothes into a changing room to try on and then left their old clothes behind to wear the new ones out. We do have CCTV cameras and procedures in place in the event of a theft, though it is far too costly and labour hungry for us to electronically tag each item.

Though rare, thankfully, these instances are a real shame and let down our donors, the people that dedicate their time to volunteering in our shops and, of course, to the patients who urgently need our services.

The cost of running a charity shop

Our shops are one of our five main income streams for the charity. The others are fundraising, legacies, donations and the lottery - see our most recent Annual Report for an income breakdown. Although we are a charity we nevertheless have to the cover the costs just like any other business or shop, e.g.  staff, rent, rates and utilities.

That’s why we are so grateful to our amazing volunteers who donate their time and energy to keeping our shops thriving. Not only do our volunteers work hard to keep stock moving and to welcome customers into our shops, but they are also incredible ambassadors for the charity. Our shops are central to many of the Devon communities we serve and as such they are a great way for us to communicate with our customers about what we do for Devon and to attract support.

Are you interested in becoming a volunteer? Find out more about volunteering options - you may decide to help in one of our shops or lend us your time and skills in some other way. We’re always very grateful to those who give to the charity as these generous efforts help to get our aircraft to where and when they are needed.