Charity shops are now chic
JUST off the beaten track of the town centre lies a new type of charity shop which is enjoying great success.
The shop, in Commercial Road, sells a range of items which have not sold elsewhere in an attempt to give them some extra life.
Despite only being open for a few months the shop has been a roaring success, sometimes making more than £200 in a single day.
“It’s had a fantastic start and attracted people to the shop who we have not seen before,” said manager Lucy Weekes, 30, who also runs an adjacent Prospect store.
“The items sold are still of a high quality and people don’t seem to be able to get enough of it.”
The shop is seen as a way to achieve maximum value from donations.
Neither of the Prospect stores enjoy the benefit of a large passing trade so have to come up with innovative schemes to attract customers.
“Because we are not in the main shopping area we have to work that bit harder to attract people in,” said Lucy.
“The first store opened in December and started out selling furniture but as that wasn’t doing so well we have adapted.
“It now specialises in books, as well as records and retro-clothes.”
“We have introduced a loyalty card where customers who buy nine books get the tenth free.”
Lucy has worked for Prospect for 11 years, starting out as a volunteer and has noticed a big change in the charity shops.
From dark rooms that no one under the age of 25 would dare enter to fully stocked stores which cater for all tastes, most charity shops are now run as professional businesses.
Lucy said: “As a local charity we have to work quite hard to compete with the national charities.
“Every shop needs to cater for its local surroundings and therefore specialises in certain items.
“Even with recruitment there is a more business-like approach. We get a lot of people applying so we can select people who are most appropriate for the shop.
“For example, we have a camera specialist who works some shifts and he is able to offer specialist advice on our range of cameras.”
During the economic downturn many high street chains suffered but charities saw an up-turn in trade.
While people’s reduced incomes may have fuelled improvement, Lucy believes charity stores have also become more fashionable.
She said: “In Commercial Road, we have a lot of custom from the young families. Men are probably our biggest customers.
“I think students have played a big part in the changing face of the charity shop. They often look for unique items that aren’t available in high street shops.”
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