Shopaholic I am not ,but neither am I averse to the odd bout of retail therapy. Add to this my freqent visits to the local charity shop (decluttering instinct balanced by beachcombing mentality) and you’ ll understand why I found Mary Queen of Charity Shops an absolute must see. If anything it was even more fascinating than I had expected. Business troubleshooting is one thing but with the employees mostly over 80, unpaid, and treating the business as a cross between social centre and second home, it wasn’t surprising our Mary had issues in managing change.
She focussed on two related areas: the need to update the image and atmosphere in the shops, and the urgent need to improve the quality of donations. The shop refit caused most opposition amongst staff, though to Mary’s credit most dissenters got back on board in the end.
To counter the quality problem, she instigated a campaign with the motto ‘donate don’t dump’ which I think is being taken up by charities country wide. This must be key to eliminating the sad and musty miasma emanating from so many charity shops. But the fault is also with the customers who need to be prepared to pay fair prices for good quaity cast-offs. Sadder by far than the sight of little old ladies stomping off into the sunset was the shopper complaining at the price of a tennis racquet – all of £1.50.
Meanwhile I’ve been supporting a local charity in a different way.
Yes, that’s me in the forklift truck (the fire engine was more fun!)