After a few weeks of preparation and organising, today Karen and Caley finally let their “baby” loose on the town of Peebles! The British Heart Foundation charity shop was open! People complain about the number of charity shops there are in the High Street these days, but at least they are a way to recycle unwanted clothes, ornaments, CDs, videos, books, etc. and raise money for a charity at the same time. Charity shops are big business, and there are so many different charities run branches of their shops all over the country. A lot of money goes into the organisation of one of these shops, but a lot of money is then made for research into illness and disease, as well as for people less privileged in the community. I can’t remember how many million pounds was donated by the BHF to the Royal Infirmary in Edinburgh last year, but it was a good few, for research, vital equipment and teaching.
When charity shops first started appearing in our towns’ streets, they weren’t very sophisticated. Everything sold was second-hand. Goods, as they still do now, came from donations from the public, and were sold in the town the goods came from, and shops were run mainly by unpaid volunteers. Nowadays, there are a few paid staff as well as volunteers and goods are moved around the different branches. New goods are also bought in, usually ornaments and nick-nacks with the profits going to the charity and that aspect is one that many people don’t approve of in a charity shop. My feeling now is that charity shops are no longer just second-hand shops, but fundraising shops for charities. They are run like proper High Street stores, made to look as attractive as the HS store, and to be honest, are fussier about the quality of the goods they sell. That doesn’t mean that they don’t appreciate donations of any quality. For example, clothes that really don’t match expectations, and cannot be used, are sold to rag merchants, and recycled into the likes of paper!
Manager Karen was one of the customers I got to know through the Co-op before I retired. She has worked for other charities before, but a few months ago was paid off when the branch she was managing closed. So when I saw the BHF shop appear in Peebles High Street, and saw on a notice board that the managers Karen and Caley were looking for volunteers, I wondered if this was Co-op Karen having finally found a new job. It was indeed. Although the shop was not open at that time, I put my head round the door to congratulate her on her new job… and ten minutes later, I was a volunteer!
Before the shop opened all the volunteers had some training sessions, so we saw the shop develop into a bright attractive store with lots of space that has been filled with items for sale.
So today was the big day, and it didn’t go without its hitches! The brand new state-of-the-art computerised till chose to freeze and wouldn’t work at all, so there was a pre-opening briefing in Plan B before one of our local councillors and the photographer from the local paper arrived for the Grand Opening! After his speech during which he noted that heart disease was still the biggest killer in Scotland, he wished us all success with the shop. Then it was time for the ribbon cutting ceremony to pronounce the shop open and immediately a good number of people who were waiting outside poured in!
For the next two hours there was a constant queue to pay for things. Because the till wasn’t working every item had to be written down with its code and price, and totals calculated, so it all took time, but everyone seemed to be quite good-natured and prepared to wait their turn.
This is Hearty, the BHF mascot, with Anna, inside that heart-shaped head! She spent the morning outside the shop, talking to the public, waving to the children encouraging passers-by to come into the shop.
Before I go, here’s Karen the manager, having a laugh with one of the customers!
Talk again soon.