Maria Korodi

Charity Shop Careers: Maria Korodi

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

Maria Korodi, shop manager of The Kirkwood’s Holmfirth shop shares with us why charity retail is the career for her, how kindness is the key to success and why this career path is so exciting, fulfilling and rewarding.

Hi Maria! Why did you choose a career in charity shops?
I’ve always wanted to work in a charity shop. I worked as a florist for 25 years, so I have plenty of experience in retail. I believed I could bring useful skills and experience to a charity shop environment. I reflected and realised that working with others and being part of the community are the things I enjoy most, and the opportunity to work with volunteers was a big attraction. I have spent many years enjoying volunteering myself, and The Kirkwood was an obvious choice as it’s a charity that has been helping people in my area for over 30 years.

Can you share an example of when you felt your efforts made a difference?
Working with a large group of volunteers means you have the opportunity to help and support the lives of the people around you. Since moving recently to the Holmfirth shop, one of the volunteers who has worked there for many years felt they needed to broaden their role, and start using the till. With plenty of encouragement, she undertook this new task with trepidation. Over the past few weeks, she’s worked hard to achieve her goal and has grown in confidence. I’m really proud of her achievements and she’s become an essential part of our team, especially when we are short of help, as she’s eager to step in whenever we need cover, from dusting shelves to hosting on the shop front. It’s really rewarding to see her personal growth.

How is charity retail different to other retail?
Although our main aim is to raise money, working in a charity is so much more than that. It involves a lot of caring too – it feels more like working within a family. I currently have 20 volunteers. Volunteers are the backbone of any charity – we wouldn’t be here without them, but they are not staff and I don’t treat them as staff.  A main priority for me is that my volunteers enjoy the time they spend with us, and feel rewarded for their effort. It’s also exciting and unusual, as we never know what will come through the door each day.

What skills and qualities do you think you need for working in charity shops?
You have to be enthusiastic and passionate – there’s a lot to do so you need to work fast. Teamwork and people skills are essential, a caring attitude to staff, volunteers, customers, and community are vital. The Kirkwood needs to raise money to help those during difficult times so business awareness, advertising, and promoting your store is a big part of your role and is the first thought of mine as I walk through the door each morning.

In what ways has your role allowed you to grow both personally and professionally?
When I first came to work for The Kirkwood, I decided to leave my 25 years as a florist behind. Although I knew I wanted to work in a charity shop, I didn’t know if it would want me. It was unknown, I was lucky to have a wonderful manager who taught me everything I needed to know, and the rest seemed to naturally fall into place – it’s given me a real confidence boost, leading a large team was something I hadn’t done before. I’ve since become manager of the Holmfirth Kirkwood shop and it’s a role I need to take seriously. I know how important the work we do is, and I find the whole Kirkwood retail team supportive.

Can you share a memorable teamwork experience?
The first Kirkwood shop I worked for in Slaithwaite relocated. It was an exciting time as Emily, my manager, and our whole team were given a beautifully fitted, new shop. We all worked fast in the last few days to get it stocked up and customer-ready for the opening day. We advertised and communicated within the local community, and the opening day was a great success. The Slaithwaite shop has flourished and is continuing to do so. Well done Team Slaithwaite!

How does your charity engage with the local community?
Alongside the care provided for patients and families in the community by the wonderful clinical staff, The Kirkwood also have a fundraising team who arrange a whole host of events within the community like our memory walk, Light of Life event, and the recent success of our 2022 art trail. On a smaller retail level, I’m looking forward to engaging more with the Holmfirth community over the next year. I was recently contacted by a local group who are setting up a Holmfirth Kirkwood support team – wonderful news! I’m planning also to have more involvement with Holmfirth Art Week – a superb event that attracts people from far and wide. This event has raised thousands of pounds for the Kirkwood and the Holmfirth team can’t wait to get involved.

How do you see charity retail evolving, and what excites you about its future?
The high street has changed dramatically over the last decade. Small and large businesses have disappeared. However, charity shops are succeeding, bringing the heart back to the high street. It’s a really exciting time for charity shops, with the rise of much bigger stores. Charity shops are no longer just second hand shops. Vintage and eclectic stock is attracting a younger generation, who are concerned with environmental and social issues. Charity shops save local councils nearly 30 million a year due to recycling, and keeps trading local without having to source from a distance. Charity shops are the ethical star of future shopping and retail.

Do you have any advice for someone considering a career in charity retail?
Charity shop workers need to have kindness. If you are thinking of working in a charity shop, you probably have the skill already, as for the rest, my advice would be to volunteer, you won’t find better training, and will have lots of fun. It’s also very fulfilling and can lead to so much more. I volunteered over the years and always found it very rewarding as it served as a stepping stone for the next stage in my life.

In your opinion, what are the most rewarding aspects of working in charity retail?
There are always plenty of opportunities to get involved in new things, develop new skills, and take part in wide variety of activities and challenges.

Thank you Maria!

Do you know someone with an inspiring charity shop background who we can interview? We want to shout from the rooftops to inspire others to think about charity retail as a career path. Email

15/01/2024 07:28