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Stock acquisition and processing

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How to acquire and process donations for your shop.

Acquiring donations

Although some shops do sell new goods, charity shops rely on donations to acquire stock. Goods can come from:

  • direct donations: chatting to customers and displaying targeted posters can encourage people to bring specific donations to your shop.
  • house collections: these are usually done through collection sacks. You'll need a license from a local authority to make collections, and certain information about the charity and the collection itself must go on the bag packaging (as required by the Charities Act 2006).
  • local businesses and larger corporations: they may have surplus or returned stock.
  • collections in schools and workplaces: encouraging people to bring in one good quality item each or to fill the sacks/boxes which you have left them.
  • clothes, book and shoe banks: these must feature certain information about the charity and any partners they are working with. Goods from banks which are sold in a charity shop will raise a lot more funds than those sold in bulk to a reprocessor.

Sorting and processing of stock

When goods arrive in the shop, they will need to be sorted and prepared before being put on display. The backroom should be equipped with the following items to accommodate this:

  • a table: for sorting your stock: for practical reasons this should be around three feet high and measure eight feet by four feet - height is important, as it can be painful and tiring to lean over a low table.
  • a rag pen: for textile storage: unsorted clothing and rags can be stored in this large compartmentalised wooden cage.
  • sack frames: for filling textile bags: having a supportive frame makes sacks easier to fill.
  • wall rails: to house out-of-season and back-up clothing: these need to be easy to access.
  • shelves: to store items: these also need to be easy to access.
  • portable rails: for recently processed stock: this makes it easy to wheel the stock onto the shop floor.
  • a steamer: to clean and freshen up clothes: this is a simple alternative to a more costly washing machine, although some shops do use them too.
  • a tagging gun: to attach price tickets: this lets you price stock quickly and efficiently.

Shopfitters specialising in charity shops should be able to supply all these items.

Disposal of ‘rag’ and other unsaleable items

Unsold textiles can be sold on to a textile reprocessor or ‘ragman’. These garments will then be recycled or exported for use overseas. Typically, a textile merchant will make a weekly collection and will pay either by the sack or by the tonne.

There are commercial companies who will also pay the market rate for unsaleable books, music and some other items from charity shops. Wood and metal can also be sold on for recycling.

Useful links

  • Textile Recycling Association
  • Directory of suppliers (Association of Charity Shops) - for details of suppliers to the sector, including shopfitters and textile recyclers.
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    Page last edited Apr 04, 2017

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