Karl Easterby Assistant Manager St Christophers

Charity Shop Careers: Karl Easterby

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

Karl is an Assistant Manager at St Christopher’s Hospice’s biggest store, East Dulwich, in south east London.

Hi Karl!

What inspired you to pursue a career in charity retail?
After the passing of a friend at St Christopher’s Hospice I became more aware of the charity’s work. I have always enjoyed shopping at charity shops and decided that with my retail experience I wanted to do more and be part of the retail team raising much needed funds to give the best end of life care available.

Can you share an example of when you felt your efforts made a difference?
I feel my efforts make a difference every day and are worthwhile when I meet customers whose loved ones have been helped by St Christopher’s and hear their stories. One particular moment will always stick with me. I helped a young woman with her donations. I thanked her and said it makes such a difference to have customer’s support. She then explained that not long ago her husband died aged 32 in St Christopher’s. I was taken aback by her bravery as she told her story and she thanked me for my work. It was a sad and beautiful moment and I realised all my efforts are a tiny but incredibly important piece of a much bigger picture.

How do you think working in charity retail differs from other retail sectors?
I feel a purpose. Knowing that I am raising crucial funds daily and it’s not just about filling shelves. The charity retail sector is much more focused on encouraging recycling and reusing goods which promotes sustainability. 

What skills and qualities do you think you need for working in charity retail?
I feel the most important quality is to CARE. It’s important to listen, have compassion and be passionate about achieving the best for the charity. 

In what ways has your role allowed you to grow both personally and professionally?
I myself have become a lot more focused on sustainability, I now buy mainly all my clothing and homewares from charity shops. I have also learnt to show much more compassion towards customers, professionally I have gained a huge amount of confidence and skills I never thought I could achieve.   

How do you see charity retail evolving, and what excites you about its future?
It’s the future! It excites me to see so many of the younger generation showing a passion for charity shops. Customers are now proud to show their support for charities and adopt a more sustainable way of shopping.

Do you have any advice for someone considering a career in charity retail?
Do it! It’s hard work, but when you see the end results there’s nothing more rewarding. I have never felt so fulfilled or happier.

How does your charity engage with the local community?
St Christopher’s always engage with the local communities. They have lots of fundraising events which include: Open gardens, quiz nights, fun walks and runs plus various other community events.     

Can you share a memorable teamwork experience?
Our refit in East Dulwich was a huge team effort. We had fun, worked hard and made our shop look wonderful. I felt really proud to be part of the team and the new rebranding of St Christopher’s. It was a great experience to work with senior management and the amazing volunteers.

In your opinion, what are the most rewarding aspects of working in charity retail?
I can honestly say working for St Christopher’s has been life changing, I feel the work I do is appreciated not only by the charity but also by the customers and patients in the hospice. I have never felt such a sense of pride and fulfilment. I love my job!

Thanks so much Karl – we love that you feel so much happiness in your work!

11/03/2024 10:04