Lesson 12: Please Patronize Thrift Shops

“Second hand is the better choice of the whole wide world.”

Cubes to put on hangers when sizing donated clothes

Do you like to shop at thrift shops, or charity shops, as they are called in Europe? I like to shop at these places because the money you spend there usually goes to a worthy cause. In Chicagoland, I use to shop at and donate to a thrift store that benefitted battered women. The parent organization was called Wings, Women in Need Growing Stronger. Before we sold our house in the U.S., I think I must have taken at least 30 trips to this store to give away numerous bags of household items and clothes before we moved to Europe.

Here in the Costa Blanca (White Coast) region of southeastern Spain, near Torrevieja, there are charity shops to help abandoned dogs, cats, horses and even donkeys. Some of the shops raise funds to help retired people get out and do activities with others rather than be bored or lonely at home. There are also shops to help terminally ill patients receive in-home nursing care. In the area where we live, there are three retail shops that raise funds for Paul Cunningham Nurses Charity. The mission of this organization is to “assess and deliver high quality care to terminal prognosis patients in their own homes, free of charge.”

English citizen Jennifer Cunningham founded Paul Cunningham Nurses Charity in memory of her son Paul. He died of spinal cancer after a long hard battle at the age of 33. According to Paul Cunningham Nurses Charity brochure, “Jennifer first helped to nurse Paul in a cancer ward…On the Costa Blanca, there are no hospices and therefore often the patient and family are left to cope through to death unsupported either in the hospital or more often at home. Paul Cunningham nurses try to be there at later stages, free of charge, for the terminally ill. Already, they have helped many patients to die with dignity, peace and without pain.”

This seems to me to be a great cause so my husband and I signed up to volunteer there one day a week. That’s one of the good things about being retired. You get to do things you never had time to do before. Since I had never worked in retail clothing before, almost everything about working there was new for me. We priced items according to set guidelines: for example, men and women’s shirts were to be priced at 3.50 euros and up. Along with other volunteers, we figure out sizes of donated items, price them with tags, and put them where they belong on the racks. We dress and undress mannequins. We organize books into fiction and non-fiction, English versus other languages. We accept, clean and put away household items, like plates and glasses. We ring up items at the register, accept money and give change. At the end of our shift, we print out a receipt showing the day’s earnings and then put that money and the receipt into a safe for daily collection by a Paul Cunningham staff member.

Our charity shop is open from 10 to 2 Monday through Friday. Our shift is every Thursday. During the shift, we always have good-hearted people coming in to drop off one or more bags of donations, so we spend a lot of time sorting clothes, pricing them and putting them out on the shop floor.

Many of our customers are English or Irish because the Costa Blanca area of Spain is full of English and Irish people. They get tired of all the rain in their countries and I can’t blame them for wanting to be where the sun shines most every day. However, we get quite a few customers from Spain itself, as well as Germany, Scandinavia, Belgium and France. Some of our regular Spanish customers work at their own thrift shops and buy items to resell at their own shops.

The other bonus of volunteering at a charity shop is you get a first look at things that you might want to buy yourself for rock-bottom prices. We have bought shirts, shorts, pants, CDs, books, silver Swan-shaped napkin rings and a black cat statue for our patio to keep our real cat company.

In summary, there are bargains galore at thrift shops and all the money goes to worthy causes. So, what’s not to like about this?

Life Lesson: The next time you pass a thrift or charity shop, please go inside to get some bargains and help others in need. Also, consider donating old clothes or household items to these stores rather than throwing them out. Reduce the waste in the world by reusing items rather than by buying new things.


5 thoughts on “Lesson 12: Please Patronize Thrift Shops

  1. It’s a good feeling to spend time helping others, if even indirectly. Thrift shops are the anti-retail stores. Instead of getting something new, buy something recycled and support a cause.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It is also a lot of fun to search for treasures in a thrift shop. In Canada, both MCC (Mennonite Central Committee) and The Salvation Army have great thrift shops. I donated to and shopped at many of them.

    Liked by 1 person

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