How wheels of our biggest Community shop turn....

Our Digital Media Officer, Jan has been out and about again, this time spending a day with our Holmbush Community Shop team.  Find out more about her day below.

It’s a sunny Tuesday morning and today I find myself spending the day at one of our biggest shops of the many across Cornwall – I’m at our Holmbush Community shop.  It’s perfectly placed within a small square of shops opposite 2 big supermarkets on the outskirts of St Austell.  It’s surrounded by a dentist, post office, fish & chip shop, butchers, satellite & aerials specialist, chinese takeaway and a bakery plus has free parking right outside.

I’m greeted by shop manager Jo who exclaims with a grin “Welcome to Harrods of Holmbush!”  Now I’m keen to find out why!

Once inside, Jo gives me a quick shop tour  – there’s a comprehensive selection of really good quality ladies clothes, mens clothes, bric-a-brac, books, DVDs and even a big children’s clothes and toys area at the back of the shop – all the hallmarks of that well known London store!  The shop expanded in August 2017 after the next-door shop became vacant, so Jo and her team have a big floorspace to keep stocked.

I’m introduced to Assitant Manager Tracey and the rest of this morning’s team, but before we know it customers are outside, brandishing bags of donations so we open the doors and the day starts in earnest.

My morning is spent with Assistant Manager Tracey on the till and around the shop floor.  First things first – fill any gaps in the books and DVDs sections of the shop so I’m labelling and getting recently donated stock out onto the shelves straight away.  It’s not very long at all before there are a steady stream of customers at the till, often buying 4 or 5 items at a time.

Holmbush is one of the handful of shops trialling the sale of our new Lottery Instant Win Scratchcards and Tracey makes sure that every customer at the till gets the option of purchasing one.  Customers seem to really like them – pay your £1 and scratch off the panels to see if you’re a winner (and each card has 2 different ways to win!).  After selling just a few, we have our first winner of the day of £5 – our customer is delighted as are we!

In between customers I also make a start on removing old bedding and curtain stock from the rails, to be moved to other shops but I never actually end up finishing the job as we are so busy on the till.

The Slick Machine!

After a quick trip to the bakery in the square for a filled roll (yes, I wasn’t organised enough to bring my own lunch) we managed a brief sit down for lunch, waving goodbye to the morning’s volunteers and welcoming the ‘afternoon shift’ of volunteers in.

Jo and Tracey explain more while we eat, about how such a big shop manages to work as such a slick machine… “We can take in up to 100 bags of donated items every day here at Holmbush but we are lucky to have a relatively big sorting room at the back of the shop to cope with it all” says Jo.  “We’ve also got a dedicated area for receiving donated goods and great volunteers who make sure we can claim gift aid on as many donations as possible” adds Tracey.

Next, I help to make a dent in the piles of donation bags and boxes that have come in during the morning.  I open one box to find it almost full of brand new with tags men’s sports t-shirts and tops, many still in the original plastic wrapping!  Tracey is sorting more donated clothes, while Jo prices items up ready for the shop floor.

One of the volunteers who has been hard at work re-stocking and merchandising in the children’s section at the back pops out to see us, so Jo and I head out to the back of the shop to see how great it’s looking.  The shelves and displays are now beautifully stocked with clothes, toys, books and games – a children’s paradise!

Then we realise that time has caught up with us – it’s time to close up and cash up, so I help Tracey with all the checks and balances, float for the next day and so on.  It’s been a really busy day (Jo did tell me I’d work hard!) but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed being part of the slick machinery that keeps the shop running, and seeing all the amazing range of donated clothes and other items, including designer label mens and ladies clothing, I think that ‘Harrods of Holmbush’ isn’t too far wrong!

Inspired by this story? Find out about volunteering in our shops