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Miriam Rugo

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Do you think shopping at charity shops is an 'ethical' consumption? Why/ why not?

Do you have any favourite charity shops? (Yes, mine is Oxfam!)
I'm currently conducting a dissertation research about consumption of second-hand clothes at charity shops.
People around me gave me some opinions about the question, including...
-YES because the part of money I spend goes to poor people in Africa
-NO because charity shops sell those fast fashion brands and by buying those clothes, consumers are reproducing the whole evil system of clothing industry

So, what do YOU think? It would be most helpful if you could give me some opinions with a bit of your charity shopping experience :)


Best,
Miriam

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    Jul 6 2013: Nothing ethical or unethical in it. It's one's individual choice from where s/he will buy her / his consumables. People's buying choices depends on different motive , in your case motive can be Charity but I am not sure, how much money from the profit of that shop goes for Charity?
    Last not least " charity begins in home"
    • Jul 7 2013: Thank you for the answer Salim. I was curious to know if "ethical" use of money by charity shops would slightly affect customers' behaviour.
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        Jul 7 2013: Hi Miriam
        While choosing a store to buy things different customer may have different motive. Say some customer have motive to buy things cheap , some others may have motive of having a sense of prestige or pride while buying , so these two groups will choose completely different sorts of stores.
        Here comes the strategy how a store wants to position itself in the eye of its target segment. The store of your example may have targeted the segment who wants to have a feeling of helping others while buying. For that particular segment definitely that kind positioning will may influence behavior of its target segment .
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        Jul 8 2013: For this question, you might look at a related literature. I have noticed over the last decade or so, the popularity at for-profit stores of advertising that some stated amount out of each purchase is contributed to some worthy cause- water in Africa, heart disease, research into women's cancers, supplies for foster children...

        I understand that attaching a charitable purpose is a marketing strategy business schools teach.

        There ought to be some research, then, on the effect on consumption decisions or sales from appending a charitable cause to purchases.

        On a separate matter related to your research, where I live the charity shops selling second-hand merchandise are dramatically larger than the for-profit ones. They are larger because people are more likely to choose to donate used items to charity shops.

        The prices at charity shops are much lower than those at for profit second hand stores, and because of the size of these shops, someone looking for, say, a pair of khakis, is likely to save a lot of time going to one huge place.

        Example: my younger daughter lives in a college town with quite a few small second-hand clothing stores. When she needed khakis, she went to all of them and found only one pair that was even worth considering (condition and fit). When I then went with a tape measure to the closest enormous charity shop, there were probably 100 pairs of khakis in a size that could fit her.

        Have you seen this TED talk? http://www.ted.com/talks/jessi_arrington_wearing_nothing_new.html
        • Jul 10 2013: Thank you again for the reply with related experience!
          I will try to develop and nourish my topic with relevant literature and survey.
        • Jul 10 2013: Oh, and Jessi Arrington's talk was a great example of an individual who uses second-hand shops to seek for unique/alternative look! It is interesting that she talks about recycling in the narrative of fashion...

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