Why size doesn’t matter when you’re saving the children.
I’m sorry to be so impertinent but it seems chances are my shop is bigger than yours.
Having undertaking some complicated and comprehensive research (of typing ‘Save the Children shop’ into a well known search engines image function and pressing return) it seems that our own area of cut-price shopping heaven enjoys a bit more floor and window space than many of its 32 brothers and sisters across the rest of the country.
The space is well used with a top floor stocked with bargain-irific solutions to the credit crisis, whether that’s our book section with plenty of room for searching for a treasured tome or our colourful parade of fashionable female and male brands.
Down stairs is our preparation zone, where volunteers pick out the gems from the hundreds of items we get donated each week.
We’re also fortunate to have a great location. Newly adorned in its smart blue branding marketing, the Nottingham shop sits on the edge of the city, tempting shoppers on their way into the centre to start their day with a bargain, or giving them the chance to find a last minute present on their way back.
Location, size and stock aren’t what make a shop though and neither is it what has made me stayed as a volunteer for 4 years.
The fact I’ve been there so long I can think of only two substantial proofs for, firstly and obviously, the cause (which I’ll touch on more in future blogs) but perhaps it is just as much the people, who give the shop its real narrative.
So what are the volunteers at Save the Children Nottingham like, well frankly they are just about as different as you could hope for, testimony to humanity in all its shapes, sizes and beliefs coming together for one united cause.
There are undoubtedly two I have to mention individually:
Our Shop Manager Lynn and a gentleman who epitomises everything that charity shop volunteering should be about.
Firstly a few lines on Lynn. Rarely have I seen someone give so tirelessly for a cause to the point, in fact I think the only time I’ve ever seen her sitting down is when she is having a chat with new potential volunteers and I’m sure if she could find some polite way of staying on her feet whilst doing the interviews Lynn would do it.
There is one man though who spends even more time in the shop than Lynn. His personal modesty prevents me from naming him here, let’s call him T. Indeed he said specifically I was only to mention him ‘in passing’ on this blog, only this is rather like trying to write a comprehensive essay on World War 2 and only mentioning Winston Churchill ‘in passing’.
I honestly believe that if it weren’t for the fact we had to shut the doors at 5, T would probably never leave. Indeed the only times I’ve not seem him at the shop are when it’s closed and if there is a prize for best Save the Children shop volunteer I would put him up for nomination without a moment’s hesitation.
I do not know you could not warm to someone who calls you “the very man” on your arrival, and whose lexicon of politeness you’ve now adopted as your own, hence I’ve started to call customers “gentleman” and “sir” and “madame” . Trust me, this isn’t the norm in Nottingham.
If any of you do get the chance to visit our part of the East Midlands, do pop in, T will be delighted to meet you. Just don’t tell him I gave four whole paragraphs to him in my blog, as he is likely to be mortified at such self-publicity.
I spent all of Saturday morning with him, where again he was first to arrive and last to leave and when I finally leave this city he’ll be one person I miss as much as my friends or work colleagues.
The customers are a part of the shop’s story too, the regulars, the students looking for fancy dress items, the men shyly buying ladies wear, the woman who paid for an item by removing £20 from her cleavage, and the little boy on Saturday morning who was such an adventurer I literally had to Save the Children as he careered towards the front door and the busy A52 with his shopping bag-laden mother unable to move quickly enough to catch him.
So now I’ve told you a little bit more about our shop you must come and visit, I’d also love to hear comments from other shop people about their shops, volunteers and customers.