Roughly 2 years ago I started volunteering at a local charity shop. My reason for doing this is that working from home I miss contact with other people. Also, it is nice to involve myself in the local community. So far, I have found the job very enjoyable and have learnt a lot from it.
What does volunteering in a charity shop involve?
There are many different tasks that need to be done in order to maintain the smooth running of the shop. When volunteers start out, their main task is to tidy the shop. This includes making sure that all the clothes are hung correctly and colour coordinated, and that displays are tidy. After a few shifts, they are given access to the till and become a fully-fledged member of staff.
Aside from serving customers and keeping the shop organised, behind the scenes we sort through the donations, price items and clean stock if necessary. Additionally, we also arrange window displays, complete our paperwork and so on… there is always something to do!
What are the donations like?
Our shop is located in a very affluent area so we sell mostly designer brands. Our customers donate many new items from designers such as Louis Vuitton, Diane von Furstenberg or Prada. Sometimes the brands donate their seconds, or clothes that have been used for modelling shoots directly to us.
We don’t sell very many ‘high street’ brands unless they are in new condition and from the more expensive end of the high street. Absolutely no items from shops such as ‘New Look’ or ‘Next’ are kept – we transfer these to other branches.
How are the donations dealt with?
Occasionally we get fake items which we cannot sell. We offer these to a textile recycling company, who visit us once a week and take away our unwanted items. These also include items that are unsaleable, such as stained clothing, dirty cuddly toys or odd socks.
Also, we get items that need to be disposed of, including broken mugs and used dish draining racks. This is a bit frustrating as they are costly to get rid of – roughly £2.50 per full bin liner. People mean well when they donate these items, but we really can’t do anything with them.
What skills do I need?
No specific skills are required. The volunteers in our shop come from a variety of backgrounds and bring different skill sets with them. Some are very artistic, which is brilliant for displays and dressing mannequins. Others are great with people which makes for increased sales figures.
Can I do this on a short term basis?
Absolutely! Whilst we have a few long term volunteers, most stay for a few weeks until they find paid employment. Most people work 1-2 days a week, but some are here for 2 hours and others nearly every day – it just depends on the individual’s circumstances.
If you can spare a few hours a week – why not give volunteering a try? Do you also work from home? If so – check out my top tips here.