I’ve come to Age UK Manchester’s newly opened shop where I’ve arranged to meet Ros Morton, the Manager. Ros runs it alongside the Deputy Manager, Shelley, with the help of five volunteers.“Might be obvious, but talk me through the sort of items you sell and what you don’t.”
“We sell women’s, men’s and children’s clothing” she starts, “shoes, handbags, belts, toys, books, DVD’s, household items, ornaments, bric-a-brac, jewellery (apart from worn ear-rings), furniture and electricals.”
Ros explained that not all items of furniture are suitable for resale because of Trading Standards rulings and drivers check Fire Hazard labels before collection. Some other items need fire labels too but all the details are on their website.
I’d assumed stock was received in plastic charity bags – the type that drop through your letter box; but that’s not quite the case.
“We’ve found the best way to get donations is by promoting the shop around the local area; letting people know we’re here by word of mouth and on social media. We’ve done a few events, handed leaflets out about Age UK Manchester, how to volunteer, how to donate and about our collection and delivery service.
Nearly all the stock sold in the shop is donated, mostly by people filling up the special bags (available at our shops), or by just dropping items off during shop opening hours.”I donate to charity shops and buy from them. For me, condition is really key.
“Of course customers want to buy clothes in good condition. We sort and check what we sell but we don’t waste anything. Damaged clothing is sent for recycling and we receive payment for it so it still brings in income. “
“Do you ever negotiate on a price for something?” I ask her.
“It’s important for the people who have been kind enough to donate their items that we set a fair price and not undervalue them. We’ve lots of experience and take into account the original cost, the condition and, to be fair to the buying customer, keep it affordable.
The money we make in this shop helps to fund activities and services we provide in Manchester, like the ones at the Crossacres Resource Centre in Wythenshawe, and our information and advice line in Manchester City Centre.”
I wander around the shop. There’s a nice, positive feel about the place. It’s well organised, easy to find what you’re looking for and the displays are inspired.
Ros has experience as a community worker as well as charity shop manager and loves both aspects.
“For me this isn’t just a shop. People come in, have a look around and buy things at a reasonable price but it’s a friendly place, we have regular customers who drop in for a chat. Sometimes they make a purchase and sometimes they don’t. If they leave feeling good then that’s fine.
We’ve got lots of space and we’re looking into getting the most out of it. Not just how to generate more income but how we can contribute to the community.”It’s getting busy so I take my leave and thank Ros for her time.
The idea of perfectly good clothing ending up in the dustbin or cluttering up cupboards is bonkers. Passing them on to a charity shop’s got to be better, so have a clear out. If you fancy treating yourself this one’s well worth a visit.
The Harpurhey shop is located opposite B&M, just click here for details, including opening times and volunteering opportunities.