We are looking forward to welcoming customers back to our charity shops on 12 April, the provisional date in the PM’s road map for non-essential shops to re-open.
Shops in Herts and Bucks will spring back into action from Monday 12 April full of fresh, colourful fashion for the new season, along with books, ornaments and children’s toys. Each shop will follow social distancing guidelines and ask that customers wear facemasks (unless exempt) and use the hand sanitiser provided.
We have 26 charity shops in total, which in a typical year provide more than £1m towards our specialist nursing care for patients with life-limiting illness and their families. Since the first lockdown last March, our shops have had to shut three times, causing a significant loss of trading. These repeated closures have seen our Retail & Trading team adapt to recoup some of that shortfall in funding.
“We’ve worked really hard to expand our online trading,” explains Nicola Flood, Buying, Merchandising and Business Development Manager. “We had so many clothes and other items sitting in our shops when they had to shut; it was down to us to be creative and make sure we could transform those kind donations into nursing care by making them available online to the people that were looking for them.
“People still wanted to shop – and they still wanted to support us. So we expanded our online presence by adding Facebook Marketplace to our existing Depop (vintage, high-end fashion) and eBay platforms. We also adapted our eBay operation so we could sell more items more quickly. Thanks to a very generous donation from online fashion clothing company Shein, we were able to sell hundreds of fashion bundles on eBay with a ‘buy it now’ option. People wanted to treat themselves and they didn’t want to wait. We were very happy to oblige!”
Since last March, our income from sales online has increased significantly. Our 24-hour responsive care has been more important than ever during the pandemic, when hospitals have been so busy and visiting hours restricted.
Nicola adds: “We’re so grateful to all our loyal customers, so many of whom went online to seek us out and keep supporting us, and to our new online following too. Our volunteers were brilliant as well. People who’d been furloughed, graduates waiting to enter the job market, people who’d decided to adjust their work-life balance… all offered their services alongside our existing volunteers to prepare, list and package up items so we could sell more online to fund our services.
“Thanks to all our supporters, our nurses have been able to keep visiting patients at home throughout each lockdown, helping to prevent hospital admissions and keep families safe and at home, together.”
Our charity shops will open Monday to Saturday from 12 April, accepting donations on Tuesdays, Thursday and Saturdays. Each shop only has a limited amount of space to store donations, which must be quarantined for 72 hours. Please check to confirm donation arrangements with your local shop, or call the shop to double check their current donation status. You can find all shop locations and contact details here