Shock over $350 T-shirt on sale at Vinnies: 'Ridiculously expensive'

People claim charity shops are becoming too expensive after this high-priced item got shoppers riled.

Charity shop customers are expressing their frustrations over increasingly higher prices with many op-shoppers concluding that buying second-hand is no longer an affordable option.

A Vinnies shop in Sydney's inner-west is the latest store to come under fire for its higher-than-normal pricing after a customer spotted a designer T-shirt for $350.

"I don’t know much about high fashion… tell me, is this reasonable?" the Sydney woman questioned online after visiting the Summer Hill store on Sunday. The item in question was a shirt by the designer label Proenza Schouler with items typically ranging from $1000 to $3,000 brand new.

A T-shirt by the designer label Proenza Schouler on sale at Summer Hill Vinnies.
Sydney shoppers were taken aback by the price tag of this Vinnies T-shirt. Source: Facebook

A worker at the store confirmed to Yahoo News Australia the price had been amended after they "received some comments" from frustrated customers. "The price was supposed to be $100, but it's been fixed up now," the worker told Yahoo on Wednesday.

They claimed a simple error was to blame for the $350 price tag. "It was accidentally mispriced by someone who is new. No one realised until it was pointed out (by customers)."

Frustrated shoppers hit out at charity shop prices

A photo of the item shared on Facebook triggered a debate about inflated pricing in charity stores. Once a source of affordable and accessible clothing and household items, charity shops are becoming a stretch for "low-income people", many claimed.

"It's unfortunate," one responded to the Facebook post, noting it's often cheaper to buy new from stores including Kmart or Target, or even fast-fashion brands online.

"This Vinnies is ridiculous, the children's clothing is highly priced at times which is more expensive than say, Kmart. I shop in there for children's clothing and the price of children's clothing is ridiculous. Even the toys can be ridiculously priced," the woman continued.

One said it's "actually concerning" to see such high prices. "I don’t shop there anymore, I used to love it. Their prices on even Target branded stuff is higher than at retail." While another said charity shops are often "ridiculously expensive".

A shopper was shocked to see a dress priced at $200 at the Maroubra Vinnies store in Sydney. Source: Reddit
A shopper was shocked to see a dress priced at $200 at the Maroubra Vinnies store in Sydney. Source: Reddit

Boom in second-hand clothing demand

Globally, and in Australia, the second-hand economy is booming. Omer Soker, CEO of Charitable Recycling Australia, told Yahoo News Australia there are a few reasons for this.

A growing interest in sustainable shopping is contributing to increased demand, with social media trends driving the boom in second-hand shopping. Charity shops are also a source of discounted designer or vintage goods that can be resold online for profit. "Vintage is so cool right now so new shops that cater to that market are opening," he said.

One Facebook user pointed out that "op-shops are meant to be for people who can’t afford it" and noted original prices of designer items are often extortionate. But it's still "unreasonable" for second-hand stores to sell items above $100, as designer items often are.

Why are charity store prices going up?

Earlier this year, a Vinnies store in Maroubra was called out for selling a dress for $200, which many claimed was "insane". "I understand that it’s designer but I just cannot make sense of a $200 price tag for a dress at an op shop", the shopper wrote online, posting a photo of the silk dress by the label Loewe. But Mr Soker disagrees.

"Those higher-end products for sale at vintage, designer or bespoke charity shops in higher income areas reflect the products [customers] want to buy," he told Yahoo. "Remember the vast majority of charity shops sell day-to-day essentials at low prices, and these are products of interest to those shoppers."

Mr Soker claimed 'resellers' are to blame for price increases and said charities don't increase the cost of goods.

"These resellers buy from charity shops and then put on huge mark-ups to sell on commercial platforms like Depop, and others and commercial markets," he said. "In these cases, charity shops are acting like wholesalers, so the charity shop prices are still great value."

Vinnies store.
Shopping at charity stores, including Vinnies, has boomed in popularity. Source: Google Images

Costs aren't going up everywhere

Mr Soker pointed out that over 90 per cent of the 3,000 charity shops in Australia offer "super cheap, affordable, everyday items for millions of Australians on lower budgets" with any revenue made going towards welfare. Overall, the average cost of items across charity stores in Australia is just $5, he claimed.

"The select few vintage/boutique higher-priced product shops are doing the right thing and raising the best funds for charity," he said. "It’s the higher income people who would shop at these places, and they can afford the prices."

Increased cost of goods contributes to higher prices

Head of retail at Red Cross Australia, Richard Wood, agreed op-shops over the past decade have "changed demonstrably".

"If you went back 10, 20 years ago, you would find that lots of people wouldn't want to admit they shopped in an op-shop but would be happy to admit they donated," he told the ABC. "But now we are seeing a lot of people coming through that are really proud to say they are shopping at op-shops."

Yahoo News Australia understands Vinnies stores are given pricing guidelines to follow across stores, but the general manager of Vinnies stores in Queensland, Drew Eide, told The Guradian donations in "higher-earning suburbs may be of higher quality and priced accordingly".

Like all businesses, "our costs have increased over the last few years", Mr Eide said saying price increases have also been caused by the general rise in the cost of goods. Salvos is similar with the general manager of customer and strategy, Edwina Morgan, saying, "prices are reflective of the Australian consumer market".

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