Letter: Good value from charity shops

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The Independent Online
Sir: We were very disappointed to read Jane Jakeman's opinions on charity shops. Her views and experiences are far from reality.

We strive to ensure that the second-hand merchandise in the 355 Red Cross shops is of a high quality - items which do not meet the grade are not put on display. "Well-dressed ladies" are not the only people who make donations. We receive goods from people of all social groups.

Our customers are similarly mixed. In fact, recent market research carried out by a consortium of charities who run shops revealed that 52 per cent of customers fell into the ABC1 categories. Red Cross shop staff are certainly not "bumbling old incompetents" - this description does not do justice to the thousands of volunteers, young and old, who donate their time to us.

A visit to most high streets will show that more and more charity shops are run professionally, setting high standards through their corporate identity, pricing policy, and training and welfare of staff, both paid and unpaid.

Yours faithfully,

John Tough

Head of Retail

British Red Cross

London, SW1

20 July