$25 Vinnies item sparks fiery debate about 'ridiculous' op-shops

Aussies are divided over the cost of goods at op shops.

An op-shopper has kicked off a heated debate online after claiming that "outrageous" prices are taking all of the "charity" out of sales. The disgruntled customer was at a Vinnies store in Brisbane when she spotted a pair of pants for $25, triggering outrage over pricing in charity stores.

"Australia is in the midst of [a] housing crisis and cost of living crisis," she wrote on Reddit alongside a photo of the item for sale. "More and more families are struggling and in need, yet these so-called 'charity organisations' are anything but charitable with their ridiculous price increases."

Pants for sale at Vinnies (left) and $25 price tag (right)
A Vinnies customer has accused the charity retailer of unfairly inflating prices after spotting pants on sale for $25. Source: Reddit

She went on to argue that "the stock gets donated for free" and that "the overwhelming majority of staff work for free either as volunteers or community service". "I understand these companies have rent and utilities to pay but the price increases are still too much,” the shopper added. "They are supposed to be charity organisations not private profit-making shops!"

Shoppers rage at op-shop prices

The post has since sparked a fiery debate, with social media users divided over the rising cost of clothing and household items at op-shops, which were once renowned for their low prices. "I've seen clothes from Kmart, Shein, etc, that are being sold for more at Vinnies, used, than they cost brand new," one shopper wrote, while others accused op-shops of "price gouging".

However, some defended charity stores, accusing people of missing the point when it came to purchasing. "When you buy from the op-shop, that is YOU supporting Vinnies and their charitable activities, it's not THEM supporting YOU and your lifestyle. They are NOT there to provide you with cheap clothes," one customer responded, while others pointed to rising overheads as the reason for price increases.

The outside of a Vinnies store in Queensland.
Vinnies says its shops use a simple pricing guide based on the value of goods in the general second-hand marketplace. Source: St Vincent de Paul Society

Where Vinnies' profits go

Speaking to Yahoo News Australia, a spokesperson for the St Vincent de Paul Society said that pricing in Vinnies Shops is determined by affordability for customers as well as the quality of the goods on sale. "Our shops use a simple pricing guide based on research on value in the general second hand marketplace and the quality of the garment," the spokesperson said.

"The principal purpose of Vinnies Shops is to raise much-needed funds for the St Vincent de Paul Society's many services for people experiencing disadvantage," they explained. “These include homelessness services, domestic and family violence shelters, health services, disability services, and the work of our members in communities by supplying food, clothes, and everyday essentials to people in need."

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