CHARITY shops around Bognor Regis can smell, its town centre manager says.
Toyubur Rahman said the condition of some of the cheap outlets in the town centre risked damaging its retail offering. “I have a love/hate relationship with charity shops,” he said. “It’s good that that they re-use and recycle items and give the opportunity for people to buy items they might not otherwise be able to afford.
“But they all sell the same stuff – clothing, bric-a-brac and they can smell. I don’t like going into some of them,” he told councillors.
“They should look at some of the particular services they offer. “There is the opportunity for charities to look at some of the things they are doing and grow their services.”
He said major charities should consider opening coffee shops close to the commercial outlets to take them on in a growing business sector.
“If it was a case of an Oxfam coffee shop next to a Costa Coffee, then I would go into the Oxfam,” he said.
Bognor Regis town centre has at least 12 charity shops. They raise funds for a variety of national and local charities which support a host of mainly medical good causes.
Mr Rahman made his remarks at Monday’s meeting of the Bognor Regis regeneration sub-committee of Arun District Council. He was discussing the progress of his Business Improvement District plans to charge firms a levy on their business rates to give them a greater say in improving the shopping area by raising funds for specific projects.
“With regard to them paying, I think any national charity – like Cancer Research or the British Heart Foundation – should pay the levy. If it’s a local charity shop, I think they should possibly be exempted.
“But it’s down to the businesses to decide that when the BID plan goes forward,” he said.
Sub-committee chairman Cllr Phil Hitchins said he had found a distinction between large and small charities. “Some of the national charities are sitting on millions and millions of pounds. The local charities most definitely are not.”
Siobhan Robinson, the head of retail at St Wilfrid’s Hospice, defended the role of charity shops in playing an important part in the life of the town centre.
The charity had two outlets in the High Street and Queensway for many years until last month when the furniture shop in the High Street closed. Chichester BID and pay the necessary levy to be part of this, which we fully support. If Bognor start a BID, we would support his and pay as well,” she said. “Our charity shops in Bognor are very well supported and we would like to thank our customers for their continued support of St Wilfrid’s Hospice.”
The hospice would soon be opening a new unit in Chalcraft Lane in North Bersted. “This will be offering something slightly different,” said Siobhan, “a wide range of donated furniture at affordable prices, and also a new clearance outlet stocking a range of goods from garments, books and bric-a-brac to household goods, all for just £1 per item.
“The unit would also provide a service in the local community, collecting donated furniture and delivering purchased items where required.”