Claire and Rebecca, Shop Manager and Deputy Shop Manager, St Margaret’s Hospice Care, Wellington

Charity Shop Careers: Claire and Rebecca

Sustainability, community, creativity. A charity shop career is so much more than retail.

Claire and Rebecca are the formidable team of Shop Manager and Deputy Shop Manager at St Margaret’s Hospice Care, Wellington, Somerset.

Hi Claire and Rebecca!

What inspired you both to pursue a career in charity retail?
We felt inspired to start our retail careers with St Margaret’s as we wanted to give something back after having been service users of St Margaret’s Hospice Care’s amazing services. We also wanted a new challenge as we had never worked within the charity sector before.

Can you share an example of when you felt your efforts made a difference?
After working for big high street retailers, it was a refreshing change to work in a local community-focused shop, where we get to know the people who love to come in and have a chat. It’s also encouraging to work as a team with our wonderful volunteers and build those relationships within the community too. The community focus really makes a difference to trade and footfall.

How do you think working in charity retail differs from other retail sectors?
The main difference is that everybody enjoys giving their time and input. We work as a team and are all striving to achieve the same goals – to make a difference and support St Margaret’s. At times it’s challenging, ensuring donations are sorted, shelves are stocked and so on, but the end result is always so rewarding.  

What skills and qualities do you think you need for working in charity retail?
We believe you need to be a people person. You need to be compassionate and very understanding, as you tend to have personal conversations with customers and/or volunteers who may be currently receiving support from our services, or have done in the past.

We feel that working in charity retail has helped us expand our experiences, learning the charity element of the job, on both a personal level and corporate.

In what ways has your role allowed you to grow both personally and professionally?
The charity element of our roles has allowed us to grow and learn in all areas and build our confidence. As we had never worked with volunteers before, it has given us the opportunity to learn how to manage people on a different level, but to also learn from the volunteers own knowledge and experiences they bring.

How do you see charity retail evolving, and what excites you about its future?
With the general public’s attitude changing towards charity shops, we feel it is only going to get busier. We are very excited to see how we can further the growth of our charity.

Do you have any advice for someone considering a career in charity retail?
We would both highly recommend working in charity retail. It’s extremely rewarding and you get to meet some amazing people. You get to become part of a community and that in itself is a reason to start.

How does your charity engage with the local community?
St Margaret’s engages with the community, not just through our 31 shops but by event collaborations with retail and the fundraising team. The bigger fundraising events create a buzz throughout local communities, for example The New Year’s Day Dip in Minehead, and the Colour Run in Taunton always goes down well.

Our shop has also been involved in a local fashion show for the WI of which one of our volunteers is involved in.

Can you share a memorable teamwork experience?
Every day our team works together creating experiences and gathering knowledge to get the best for our shop. For example, we had a picture donated to our shop which no-one was sure about, but we worked together and in the end it managed to get us £8,000+ at auction! Everybody was very proud of the find and just goes to show that teamwork, really does work.

In your opinion, what are the most rewarding aspects of working in charity retail?
We feel the most rewarding aspect of our job is that we make a difference to people’s lives every day. Whether that’s the customers, volunteers, but also raising funds so we can continue to care for patients facing a life limiting illness, and their families, across Somerset.

Thanks so much Claire and Rebecca! Their St Margaret’s Hospice Care shop is at 21 Fore Street, Wellington, TA21 8AA.

08/02/2024 18:25