Charity shops do great deal of good

PUBLISHED: 01:01 26 March 2008 | UPDATED: 21:38 15 June 2010

I UNDERSTAND, but do not share, the chamber of commerce concern about the growth of charity shops. This is a national phenomenon and is probably a response to market conditions locally and nationwide at present. Charity shops perform a valuable commercial

I UNDERSTAND, but do not share, the chamber of commerce concern about the growth of charity shops. This is a national phenomenon and is probably a response to market conditions locally and nationwide at present.Charity shops perform a valuable commercial and social role, supporting useful causes and helping recycle unwanted goods that might otherwise be wasted. They also increase voluntary and community activity, which is not easily measured.Increasingly, many are going up-market and delivering goods not always available.Just look at the refitted British Heart Foundation shop or the excellent range of quality books in Oxfam, which are displayed superbly.Where else in Honiton can you get a wind-up radio?Where would the excellent and much-needed hospice movement be without its shop and regular tables sales at the Mackarness Hall? Or the Devon air ambulance, which we may need one day but take for granted?My personal favourite is not even on the High Street but in New Street where the little Brainwave shop and its good-hearted volunteers help to keep up services to brain injured children, thanks to a supportive leaseholder. Where else could this support come from?Are these shops distorting the High Street? Possibly, but 19 antique shops are not exactly normal and seem to cater more to outside buyers, but are presumed good for the local economy.So it is with charity shops - but to a different market, and not just poorer people, though they can be a lifeline when household budgets are stretched.OK, so they obtain some rate relief, but why not? We would all have to pay heavier taxes if some of the services they help provide were denied support.Many of these shops are leased and, when the economy improves, some leases may go to alternative business in time.The chamber of commerce has more to fear from Tesco than charity shops, which make a far greater contribution to society.TONY SIMPSONAshleigh RoadHoniton

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