We are proud of the 12 shops it has throughout the Kent and Bexley area – and their staff and volunteers are equally proud of their professional approach and their bumper sales.
Staff like Michelle Harris, assistant manager at the Bexley shop, know how much the hospice charity relies on revenue from its shops to support patients with life limiting illnesses and their families. She started working at the Bexley shop in February. Her role is part-time, usually two days a week but sometimes three. A background working in charity shops has certainly stood her in good stead.
She says: “I have managed charity shops for seven years and was already in retail for many years before that. I like to work for good causes. It’s not just about going to work; it’s about giving something back. After I moved to Swanley to be near my grandchildren I saw the ellenor shop job advertised I thought it would work very well -- and I love it there. I find the job really rewarding and I’m happy in what I am doing.”
The charity’s shops could not open without the stalwart support of a whole army of volunteers.
Michelle said: “The volunteers at Bexley are fabulous. Many of them have been coming in to help for 10 years or more, so they know the role really well – and they know the local community. They have some brilliant ideas.”
Michelle herself has also brought some fresh ideas to the shop and especially likes to concentrate on presentation; the window display and how things are displayed inside the shop.
She says: “How you set out your shop is very important and has a massive impact on footfall and sales. Your shop sells from your window. If the window is appealing, customers will be encouraged to come inside.”
Experience has taught Michelle to sometimes buck the trend. Traditionally wedding dresses had not sold well in the Bexley shop, but she decided to give it another go by displaying a bridal gown in the window and it sold within the week.
“I said let’s put it in the window and give it a week – and it sold for £100! Someone went home with that dress absolutely over the moon. When people donate something that is close to their hearts it’s especially important to make sure we turn it into good revenue for ellenor.
“It’s always good to try and involve your customers and that is why the donations we receive here are of a very high standard. ellenor relies on donations like these. Sometimes we might be low on ladies clothing, let’s say, so we mention it to our customers, and they have a sort through at home and bring in things they no longer wear.
“We have a lot of regular customers. Because Bexley is a village, they all know the shop and they all know about ellenor. Ours is the only charity shop so it is unique. Other shop owners come in here to buy things, the florist for instance. The dry cleaners two doors along also cleans things for the shop free of charge. It’s all about keeping good relations and building a bit of a network. For instance, there are teas served in the village hall on a Friday and I have asked the vicar if we can put up a notice asking for more shop volunteers.