Never entirely sure about what to take to the Charity Shop?

One thing my Clutter Fairy clients love is the fact that I take stuff away at the end of the day. It’s gone for good and with it a weight is lifted. At the end of every session I drop off at my local PDSA Charity Shop. Sometimes, I’m happy to tell them that it’s a lucrative stash, other days, not so good.

There are definitely misconceptions around about what can and can’t be sent to the Charity Shop so I made an appointment with the lovely Ambia, Manager at the PDSA in Sale, and thought I would get straight from the horse’s mouth exactly what happens to our stuff when we drop it off.

The basic message is that at least 98% of the stuff that comes through the door is used in some way and most of that sees some kind of financial return for the charity whether it be sold, recycled, ragged etc. I found that statistic absolutely staggering.

Here are some questions I get asked alot. Ambia answered them all for me.

If my jumper has a hole in it or I have an odd sock, surely the Charity Shop doesn’t want it?

ANY clothes, shoes, towels, dishcloths, knickers, socks, tights will be accepted. Every bag you send will be sorted through with a fine toothcomb and a decision made about whether it will be sold or ragged. An average binbag is about 4 to 6 kilos which will, if ragged, get the charity about £3. Ragging adds up to alot of extra cash for the charity so please please don’t send your old clothes to landfill. These rags get redistributed around the UK and Third World.

What do I do with electrical stuff?

Only if it is sealed and in its original packaging can it be sold without testing. All electricals need to be PAT Tested for Health and Safety so only certain Charity Shops will accept them but there are lots that do. Check on their websites, give them a call or just ask instore.

What about videos?

It really depends on the area, some shops will sell videos or will redistribute them to another charity that will send them overseas. BHF, for example, will take videos and advertise that they sell them.

Some of the stuff I am sending is valuable. I don’t want to see it being sold for £1.

As part of the training for all volunteers and management, they are instructed how to identify vintage clothes, designer brands and antiques. Each charity has specialists that they can ask for advice if in doubt. The pricing in charity shops is strictly governed and items are priced in bands.

What happens to foreign coins and stamps?

They go to a specialist and then are sold in bulk. Any gold or silver is either put in the shop or sold to a gold merchant.

I’m never sure whether to sort stuff into categories to make it easier for the volunteers.

It really isn’t vital as every bag will be sorted meticulously by the volunteers. The only thing that needs to be separate is fragile items. If something breaks in a bag, it means the whole bag is unusable as staff won’t be able to sort through it due to Health and Safety legislation.

I send lots of really great clothes but never see them for sale in the shop. Where are they?

When stuff is sorted it is often sent to other local shops. What will sell well in, say a student area, might not work so well in an area dominated by families. If it doesn’t sell in that shop it is sent to other shops with different demographics and invariably it will get sold somewhere in the chain.

I know they don’t recycle duvets and blankets at the tip, what about the Charity Shop?

Blankets,towels and duvets sent to a PDSA are sent straight to the animal hospital.

When I am sending books, what if they are damaged?

If they are damaged and cannot be sold they will be recycled.

What about large items of furniture?

Most charities have vans that will pick up large items. Beds and sofas need to have the appropriate fire resistant standards.

So, hopefully that has given you an idea of what can and cannot be taken to the Charity Shop. One thing I would like to add is that this information came from the Manager of a specific shop. Please check carefully with the shop you use to ensure they work along the same principles. For me, as a declutterer, taking some weeks maybe sixty bags or more to the shop I am comforted that so much of it is getting sold, redistributed or recycled.

So, the moral of this blog is, if in doubt, put it in the charity bag. Someone somewhere will have a use for it and you could be helping raise vital cash for the PDSA or your own designated charity.