MALLORCA – The financial impact of the pandemic on individuals and businesses has been extensively covered in the news since it began. However, little seems to have been written about charity shops.
Just like other retail businesses, they have been equally affected. Likewise, as with businesses, the impact on each charity, their staff, customers, and beneficiaries vary massively. Also according to the nature of the charity, and their main source of income.
As I travel around South West Mallorca, almost everywhere I go, I am drawn to the compelling and wide-ranging displays. You can see second-hand goods outside the various charity shops which prevail in this part of the island.
Perhaps it is because as a former antique dealer, I cannot resist the opportunity to search out a bargain. I either add to my eclectic collection, or sell for a profit after I have appreciated it for a while.
Do not get me wrong, antiques are now hard to find in charity shops. However, it is the thrill of the chase that fires my enthusiasm and drives me on. In the process of searching for “The Holy Grail” it is, of course, very easy to become distracted. And to be drawn towards more “everyday” items such as clothes, shoes, furniture, sporting goods, crystal ornaments, books, CDs etc. Everything you can think of in the average house, shed or garage is for sale in your local charity shop.
But what lies behind the mass accumulation of these discarded items. In two words, “GOOD INTENTIONS”! Good intentions on the part of those who donate the items to help swell the coffers of their selected charity. And the good intentions of that charity and its workers to help others less fortunate.
In recent years, in Mallorca and beyond, both innovative and well proven modern business methods have been applied to this unique business to maximise the financial return on donated stock. Good merchandising and a compelling store layout can double or even treble profits. And with low overheads the charity can benefit substantially allowing its good work to continue apace.
Due to the various Covid lockdowns “Mr and Mrs Public” took the opportunity to clear their wardrobes and cupboards, empty the shed and/or garage and donate their surplus items for the benefit of others. But not only that, with many job losses and people on government ERTE schemes, sometimes the charity shops have been a lifeline and the only way to buy clothes and other necessary items when money is tight.
Charity shops were overwhelmed with donations at the start. Some to the extent that they had to decline offers due to lack of space in their premises. However now that restrictions are beginning to be lifted, business is BOOMING in the retail charity sector. Even some obviously “well-heeled” people here on the sunshine isle can be seen “bagging a bargain”.
I spoke with Salvation Army volunteer Katherine, a seventy something British expat of some thirty years standing. She told me, “it’s quite remarkable, we’ve been taking in hundreds of donations in recent weeks, many of them of extremely high quality. The money they bring in when sold allows us to continue our work, not only here in Mallorca, but also abroad. We are regularly amongst the first charitable organisations on the ground to help relieve suffering in disaster areas or after political upheaval.”
Although the retail side of charities may be booming, many rely on other income streams. Due to Covid, much of this has been affected. Large events such as marathons have been cancelled, meaning no income whatsoever. Therefore, the level of consequent need will vary from charity to charity according to their mix of income sources. Nonetheless what is clear is that a great many will still need some conscious and thoughtful financial support to keep going.
So, what can we ordinary people do to make a difference? GET INVOLVED with GOOD INTENTION and KNOW you are making a difference!
Your man in Mallorca
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