Red Cross volunteer Gloria Snell sorts items at the North Ipswich store.
Red Cross volunteer Gloria Snell sorts items at the North Ipswich store. Sarah Harvey

Retail giants put the squeeze on op shops

AS THE Christmas trading rush heats up, op shops are finding it increasingly harder to compete with their commercial rivals' low prices.

With retail chains offering new garments for only $10, shoppers are asking themselves why buy second-hand?

The trend has become noticeable around Ipswich, with staff at the Red Cross's North Ipswich store finding customers walking out the door for bargain prices on offer elsewhere.

Red Cross merchandise general manager Olivia Cozzolino said competing with retail giants' low prices was tough.

"Charity stores do find it hard to compete with the high-volume mass retailers. They can price items very cheap. It's a completely different retail model," she said.

While the price of mass-produced clothes at department stores may be cheaper, Ms Cozzolino said they may not be better.

Making comparisons on price was difficult when the quality of the products on offer varied widely, she said.

"The first question I'd ask is what brand you get in a Red Cross shop. If it is a better brand, you are paying for a better brand and an item like that is going to last longer."

Ms Cozzolino said it was down to the consumers on how they decide to spend their money.

"That's a personal choice for people and we can certainly understand that for some people price is a factor.

"For some people spending money at a Red Cross store might mean it's going to a greater good."

Ms Cazzolino said op shops still offered the same appeal to savvy shoppers, looking to uncover a hidden treasure which retail chains didn't have.

"That's what our customers love about it. It's the treasure hunt, the hidden gem. It's a one-off you know you are not going to see anyone else down the street wearing."

To give goods to the Red Cross, drop your items into the North Ipswich store at 32 Downs St.

Op shop facts

  • Average price of a garment at a Red Cross store is between $5 and $7.
  • Red Cross stores are looking for donations of clothes and goods as the Christmas rush begins.
  • The first Australian Red Cross Branch was formed in 1914.


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