A day in the life of not one but two shops
A blog by Jan Pallett, Digital Media Officer for Cornwall Hospice Care
On what was possibly the worst weather day in Cornwall this year (so far), it was my turn to find out what a “day in the life” of our shops was all about. I managed to negotiate snow showers and icy conditions without incident to spend some time in not one but two of our Truro shops.
In some ways, I felt like I was going back to my roots somewhat as my mum, a Truro girl through and through had started her working life as a “shop girl” in the city back in the early 50’s. But nostalgia aside, I was keen to arrive and find out exactly what makes the modern charity shop tick.
My morning was spent in our Truro Lifestyle Pop-Up shop working alongside Sarah Kundracik. Sarah explained to me that she’d worked quite extensively in fashion retail before joining Cornwall Hospice Care, in Wallis and New Look. “I do enjoy working in the hospice shops as I feel like I’m doing something more worthwhile than just making a profit for an owner who is just funding his next yacht purchase” Sarah adds as we chat.
We’re soon joined by one of our Community Fundraisers, Judy Lawton who breezes in to say hello in between meetings in the city. Not wanting to miss the opportunity, I ask Judy to give our #TwentyPoundChallenge a whirl, seeing if she can pick out a whole outfit for £20 or under. She’s soon picking out items and heads off to the changing rooms. “Here you go!” she exclaims as she exits the changing room in a top, jeans and shoes all for just £13! “And this is definitely the sort of thing I’d normally wear too.” she adds beaming.
The new Riviera range of bamboo tableware has arrived and has been put on display, but we need to update some of the bar-coded labels so the recently installed new till system can read them, so first job of the day is to get the new labels on them. The range seems to have created quite a lot of interest and Sarah tells me she’s sold quite a few items already, with the lidded travel mug being a real hit, particularly as it’s priced at just £2.75 (Judy buys one just before she heads off to her next meeting!).
I ask Sarah to tell me more about the new till system known as “Cybertill” and she’s happy to show me some great features, which the old system just didn’t have. Taking the Riviera Travel Mug as an example, Sarah shows me how she can scan the bar code or type in a key word of any new goods item and see her stock plus stock in all our other shops too! “It’s great if a customer has seen something but we are low on stock or they want to see if their local shop has the item” she explains. “There’s also a feature that allows shops to message each other – particularly useful for our Truro shops, if a problem arises or extra help is needed – all done without me leaving the till area, which can be difficult as I can often find myself on my own in the shop.”
As with all modern technology of course, it is reliant on connection to the internet, which sometimes can be temperamental, but on the flip side having such technology at each shop’s fingertips also means they have a real-time view of how sales are going for the week too.
Before I know it, it’s lunchtime and time for me to head over to our Truro Boutique shop and meet Aarron Stroud managing the shop today. He gives me a quick tour of a couple of the floors of the building on St Nicholas Street (it has 4 floors in total!) and he also explains; “The Boutique sorting area provides the clothes sorting and tagging for all the Truro Shops. Clothing is sorted into items to go to the Clearance part of the Truro Homestyle Store at the top of Pydar street, branded items stay at the Boutique and other items head off to the Lifestyle Pop-Up shop.”
I ask him how I can help. I make a start by pairing up & tagging shoes that have just come in, to make life easier and ensure that Aarron’s bag of odd shoes doesn’t grow any bigger! Then Aarron gets me tagging some items which are destined for the Lifestyle Pop-Up shop, with a few words of warning – “Keep your fingers out of the way of the needle!”. I start off well, but then get complacent and get my finger in the way – just the once though! Aarron starts on steaming some garments while I carry on tagging and we chat about our respective jobs and Aarron tells me; “I could work somewhere else, but I feel like I’m doing something worthwhile working for Cornwall Hospice Care.” It occurred to me that for so many of us who are part of the Cornwall Hospice Care ‘family’ what we do is more than ‘just a job’.
Before I know it, my “day in the life” of two of our Truro shops has drawn to a close and it’s time for me to head home. The day has flown by and I’ve learnt so much about what goes on behind the scenes of our shops, that I’m already wondering where my next day will take me!