watervole: (Default)
 I hadn't expected charity shops in general to affect me, but I went on a stroll around charity shops in Wimborne (something I always do when I'm there) and it's definitely left me feeling a bit jittery.

Some of them had annoyingly loud music and the PDSA had a perfume dispenser (I left in a hurry - making sure to complain - as those things often trigger my asthma), but the main problem was simply being in a charity shop.

I hope this wears off, as I get most of my clothes in charity shops as a rule.
watervole: (Default)

Dear Zona,

I heard late Saturday afternoon, about third or fourth hand, that you were dead. I hope it isn't true, but I fear that it may be.

It's only last week that you had to go into hospital because of the fibromyalgia. I heard you were out again, but knew it could easily strike once more.

I owe you so much. You made such a difference to my life that it's hard to describe it.

A year and a bit ago, I was feeling really bad. Unemployment was doing horrible things to my stress levels and I just felt crap all the time. I made a decision to start volunteering again as a way of trying to improve my morale.

I went to the Red Cross shop in Wimborne (picked because it's a very good shop and I often buy stuff there) and did a few sessions working on their books, but their back room was unbelievably small and cramped and the books were stored in containers that were totally inappropriate and made it difficult to reach anything. It wasn't helping my stress levels (I was almost at the shaking/stammering level) and the manager (in retrospect) was wise enough to recognise this and say that it wasn't a good idea for me to continue working there.

So, I upped stakes and walked around Wimborne looking for another shop to volunteer with. I picked Weldmar because they had two copies of 'Angels and Demons' by Dan Brown on the shelf.

Why was this a selling point?

It meant they really, really needed me. Dan Brown books are printed and donated in the millions. Every charity shop has more copies of the Angels and Demons than it can ever sell. To have two copies on the shelf showed that they weren't turning the stock over and that no one had any idea of which books to put out.

So, I offered my services.  Zona welcomed me with open arms. The shop had only been open a month or two, there were hardly any volunteers (It takes quite a while for a new shop to get a regular staff) and she knew nothing about books.

We got on like a house on fire. We shared the same sense of humour, both appreciated the others skills – the other reason I picked the shop was because the window display looked really good. Zona came from retail and was a true professional when it came to display. She could take a load of complete tat, arrange it by colour and form and suddenly make it look exotic and valuable.


She gave me a completely free hand when it came to the books – which was exactly what I needed. It allowed me to utilise all the tricks of price and display that I'd leant from working in Oxfam and other charity shops over the years. It wasn't long before we were selling higher value books for £30 or more and the book turnover per week had tripled. Zona was delighted. Her manager was pleased too.

I ended up coming in two full days every week. Zona was fabulous. We made each other laugh, shared our joy in books/fashion (books for me, fashion for her), cheerfully griped about anything that bugged us and it wasn't long before my dose of anti-depressants was falling dramatically.

Sales overall were on the low side – it takes time for a new charity shop to get known, to gain volunteers, and to get local people donating. There's a lot of competition in Wimborne which had 9 or 10 charity shops at that point. We used to look at the sales figures for other Weldmar shops and joke that at least our sales were better than the Dorchester book shop! Another reason why I loved her – getting sales figures out of some managers is like getting blood from a stone. Zona gave me a log-on and let me check the figures directly – which meant I got instant feedback when I tried new tricks on the book display.

By Christmas, we were close friends. She gave me a delightful little angels ornament, powered by a candle. (I loved it, physics and prettiness combined)


In the new year, the Wimborne deputy manager decided to leave, and Zona and I were delighted as this meant I could apply for the job – two days paid work would allow me to still do some volunteering on top and would give me a small (and much needed) income. She started putting me through all the basic training that I would need for the job: how to make up a float; bank money; keep sales records at the end of the day; refresh the window display, etc.

I was bitterly disappointed when I didn't get the job. I gather it was a close-run thing, but it went to someone with slightly more retail experience.

I can't even remember now who asked me to take a look at the bookshop. It may have been Zona's manager – I'd included a reference from an Oxfam bookshop manager in my CV and I think this finally woke them up to the amount of experience that I have in this area.

I said I'd look, but insisted on travel expenses. Dorchester isn't that close... So, in February 2013 I got my first look at the bookshop as a volunteer.

It was dreadful.

The shop was a total mess. Books for sale piled up on the floor in the shop. Books piled all the way up the stairs. Boxes and bags of newly donated books cluttering up the shop floor. The stock on the shelves was poorly laid out. A lot of the stock in the best positions was unpopular fiction hardbacks and out of date celebrity biographies. The staff member on the till wasn't interested in change and didn't want me (a lowly volunteer) to tell her what needed doing.

Once back home, I basically wrote my ultimatum. I was willing to take on the bookshop, but I was not willing to do it as a volunteer. I wanted to be a paid member of staff (thanks to Zona, I already had the necessary training). It was going to take a massive amount of work and I'd have to be there several days a week to have any chance of getting it back on track. I also needed the authority to make the necessary changes.

Zona was rooting for me all the way. We both knew that it would mean I could spend less time in Wimborne with her, but she was still delighted that I had a chance to work with the books I loved. And she was totally convinced that I could turn the bookshop round.

I managed to work both shops in parallel for a couple of months, but I needed to spend three days a week in Dorchester and it was just too exhausting to do Wimborne as well. I called in whenever I could to see Zona and to pick out the best books for her top shelf display.

Then she went down with fibromyalgia. I called into the shop and she wasn't there. I was told she was ill, but I had no way of contacting her to find out how bad it was. She wasn't answering her mobile. All I could do was to leave a letter with the shop telling her how much I missed her, asking her to get in touch and giving all my contact details.

It was over a month before I heard from her. She'd been really ill, didn't know if she'd ever be able to work again.

She recovered gradually. I'd call into the shop and she'd either be off sick, or there, but looking exhausted. I helped her set up a gmail account so that we could keep in touch even when she wasn't in the shop.

By November, she was looking a lot better and had applied for a new job in a Fair Trade shop in Blandford – less heavy lifting and more control over what stock you get. But this morning, Monday 22 December, I know for definite that she'll never see that job. Part way through writing this, I realise I'd already accepted that she'd gone. I've just had an early phone call from our area manager who knew I was close to Zona. She confirmed the news. A heart attack.

If it hadn't been for Zona and her willingness to welcome a stressed, depressed woman who demanded total control of a corner of her shop, I would not be the relatively sane woman I am today.

This Saturday, Richard, myself and our team of volunteers broke both  the bookshop record for best sales in a day (over £400) and best sales in a week (over £1600).

It was also the day I heard about Zona.

I've lit a candle under the angels and I'm watching them fly.

I shall remember her every Christmas.

watervole: (Default)
 Sales in the Dorchester bookshop are improving.   Last week we took over £900.  (a rare bird book at £100 helped towards that total).

We've definitely improved our sales of greeting cards.  Weldmar do an excellent range of multi-purpose greetings cards at £1 each.  I moved them next to the window, stuck up a sign in the window to say they were all £1 and sales have leapt.   They're very attractive cards and all come in a sealed pack with an envelope.  Massively better value than cards elsewhere.

Richard and I are working round the shop, a display unit at a time and overhauling the display.  Today, I've just taken all the English geography books out of the window (apart from Dorset books) and replaced them with collectable annuals. We've some early Rupert annuals at around £15 each and a Captain Scarlet and a Thunderbirds board game (though sadly with two pieces missing).

I've also got tricks still to apply on the paperbacks.  I've worked out a cheap way to get lots of face-out books.  Take a couple of paperbacks that aren't good enough to sell, wrap paper around them and tape it on, then place them sideways as a block on the shelf to support a nice new face-out paperback.
watervole: (Default)
I  do wonder how much life is left for charity book shops.

Bookshops are either closing down or stocking more and more stuff that isn't actually books.  Ebooks are taking over more of the market.
Second-hand sales from Amazon, ABE and ebay are massive.

How much demand is there for second-hand books that are not from the Web?

How do your own book-buying habits operate now?

For myself, if I know what I want, I'll go and find the cheapest copy (in acceptable condition) on the Web and buy it there.

However, I still walk into second-hand bookshops if I'm passing one..  The advantage of the physical bookshop is that it can show me the books that I didn't know I wanted because I didn't know they existed.

For now, at least, book donations to charity shops seem to be holding up.  I suspect that selling secondhand books online simply isn't worth it unless you're a professional or have a lot of spare time.  The amount that Amazon will pay you is miniscule.  It's simpler and easier to create space by donating them.

The concern here, of course, is that ebooks mean that there are less physical books to be donated.  This doesn't appear to be a problem yet, but may increase over time.

The recession probably means that many people can't afford new books, so charity shops still win on that front, and have the advantage of no postage costs which makes it easier to undercut Amazon.

Costwise, we're still ahead, and we do tend to score well on old and collectible books.


I'll be in the Dorchester bookshop tomorrow,  and there's a lot of work to do.  I know sales need to improve (the bad weather in the last month or two has had a real impact), but I don't know what target I should be aiming for.  There's only one bookshop for the hospice, so I've nothing to compare with.
watervole: (Default)
 Good day for children's book sales today.

Noticed someone looking at the children's books and mentioned we had more in the backroom.  Sold the Philip Pullman trilogy and two more books.  Half an hour sold a full set of Narnia books to someone else looking at the shelf, and followed that up by selling a nice story book off the top shelf (to someone looking through the basket at the bottom).

We took around £15 on children's books, and they were almost all ones I picked out for people once I knew the age of the child.  Now, all I need is a few little girls of an age to like sparkly fairy books.

We also sold one of our old/rare books for £30 (a translation of Napoleon's memoirs).

The craft section is almost sold out, so I'll replace it with either history or natural history next week.

The last of the military history books is on the shelf - they've been selling well, but most of the best ones are gone now.  

Currently selling old poetry books.  Often quite old in lovely bindings.  The bindings, sadly, have a fair bit of damage, but the paper inside is lovely (acid-free and thin).  I'm selling them very cheap because of the damage.  Also have a language and literature section at present. Dictionaries tend to be popular, and lit books will sell in a separate section when they tend to remain unsold in the general fiction.
watervole: (Default)
I thought you'd like to see my book display.

If you start here and click through the half dozen pictures, then you should (fingers crossed) be able to read my comments with the pictures.

watervole: (Default)
 Had a very successful week in the Hospice shop last week.

We didn't so much break the previous books record as smash it.  we took £130 on two bays of books, which I was very pleased with (and compares well to takings in other sales areas)

Which is interesting, because I'd taken the risk of reducing the number of shelves.  What I did was to add a lot of visual interest and contrast.  The top shelves no longer run in a straight line.  One is lower than the other to make it easier for people to see the display books.  Each shelf of paperbacks now has two books with attractive covers face out (rather than with only the spine showing).  The fiction is still sorted alphabetically, but the hardbacks are now mixed in with the paperbacks (I increased the shelf spacing slightly to allow them to fit in).

The non-fiction only has a few categories: military history, crafts, cookery, religion and biography.    When those categories have sold out of good books, they'll be totally removed and be replaced by art, natural history, language/literature and history, which are currently building up priced stock in the backroom.  I've also got piles for new age, travel, transport, men's interest, women's interest and a couple of other subjects that may/may not build up to sellable quantities.

In my book, it's far better to have a few large sections that show clearly to the buyer, then a lot of little sections that get lost in the noise.

Although we sold a £20 book (battle of Britain) and several around £5 (how to make stuff for doll's houses), it's noticeable from the till records that most of the increase was in paperback sales.  (I look at number of books sold as well as total takings)  Same books, same prices, just a far more attractive display.

I often stand at the till, just to watch how people approach the book display and how long they spend there.  A few weeks ago, they'd walk up, glance vaguely over the display, mostly at eye level, then walk on.  Now, they pause, scan the whole display, often bending down to look at shelves nearer the floor, pick up one of the face out books to look at it, then, after that, they often pick up a book close to the face out and look at that as well.

Several times, I've observed a book that has been on the shelves for a couple of weeks, sell within an hour of being placed face outwards.

Also, a pattern that I'd previously noticed of books on the top shelf selling less (I date code, and there were more older books at the top)  has now evened out.  We're still selling less at the end of the alphabet (bottom shelf) but that's not as bad as it was.

I need to come up with an idea to help the WXYZ authors.  Suggestions welcome...
watervole: (Default)
 Been a good week at the hospice shop.  I won't know the overall sales until Monday, but this week we've sold: £15 book on Trolleybuses, £8 book on Judge Dredd, £6 Tyneham (ghost village), £8 Lord of the Rings and the incoming donations include a wonderful set of the Illustrated London News from the 1960s with photo spreads of things like Churchill's funeral.

Also got a little book on railways that's over 150 years old and has only one original copy for sale on the web (amidst a large number of print on demand reprints), so I've stuck a large price tag on it and placed it in the window.  It's an interesting little book with some good engineering details.

Of course, I'm now drowning in books to price as the depot responded rather enthusiastically to our request for more stock (until now, it's been like getting blood out of a stone, but they suddenly got madly enthusiastic).  There's a good pile of military history in what they sent, so those are already out on the shelves, and most of the outdated travel books are in the pile to go to an Internet firm that pays about a penny a book.

I'm also working about two days a week (voluntary),  which is rather more than I'd originally planned on, but we're a new shop and still very short of staff.
watervole: (Default)
 Just got last week's sales figures for books for the Hospice shop.
I'm a very happy bunny, and so is the shop manager.  Sales last week were £97.  Two weeks ago, before I joined, they were around £30.  Same shelf space, same stock, just better display. (I've not even changed much on the pricing.)
The only drawback is that I've now sold all the good military history books.  The last one went on Friday for £6.  Churchill went earlier in the week for £8.  I've put up a note asking for more military history, but it's time and luck dependent as to whether we get more,
I've been deliberately showcasing them, as I know from past experience that you're more likely to get donations in a subject if people know you keep them as a specific category.
The manager is already thinking about going up to two units of shelving for books, and I think we can justify that (as long as we get enough incoming stock).

Sold one book yesterday by singing to a tired toddler.  It kept her from crying and allowed her mother time to browse the shelves.  Result, very happy mother whose last words on leaving were: "I'll definitely be shopping here again."
watervole: (Default)
 I've started helping with the books at a hospice charity shop in Wimborne.  My stress levels are running pretty high at present (unemployment) and this helps as it's something I know well and I can make a difference without having to focus too hard.  Also, it's giving me an excuse to get the bicycle out several times a week.

This shop is really working well for me.  It's a new shop, only just opened and I'm the first person to take on the books. That means that there are no pre-existing bad habits to be broken and no staff with investments in an existing system.

When I suggest something, the shop manager is happy for me to go ahead and do it.  (as long as the result looks good.  ie. she preferred printed shelf labels to hand written ones and that's fine by me)

Best of all (and I fought for this for over a year at my last charity shop without ever getting it), she's able and willing to give me the weekly sales figures. That means I can look over the book sales and see if what I'm doing is actually improving sales.

Last week, I alphabetized all the fiction paperbacks and sorted the non-fiction into categories.  That increased books from 4% of shop sales to 6%.  This week, I'm working on the display, adding book ends to create space mid-shelf where I can put a book face-out to show the cover.  Sold a cookery book within an hour of making it visible (it had been there for two weeks previously without selling).   Faceouts also help make categories more visible.

Fiction hardbacks weren't moving at all (they never sell well in charity shops, people usually prefer paperbacks as they're smaller).  I've made those 'buy one get one free' and they've started selling.  Interestingly enough, not all the people who bought one took a second, but the sign made people spend longer looking at the shelf.

We're very short of paperbacks.  Hardly any in the back room at all.  They've been selling well, but I expect that to slow down due to lack of new stock.  At some point, I'll start taking off the ones that have been there longest and passing them to other shops (if they're good ones) and to the dealer if they aren't.

We sold our first collectable book today.  I found an old law book (about 200 years old) with a fascinating chapter on the laws relating to town militia.  Sold for £15  to a friend of mine who runs the local militia reenactment group!

It'll be interesting to see how the next few weeks go.  I'm hoping we'll get more donations from people visiting the shop and I've put an appeal on the shelves for local history and military history.  They usually sell well.  (I've already sold two military history books off the top display shelf)


Mar. 12th, 2012 05:57 pm
watervole: (books)
 Spent most of the day in the Red Cross.  Started the day with two bays of books, ended the day with three bays and a window display.  Wish I'd had time to take some photos for you.

I expanded the fiction from one bay to 1 2/3 bays and added an extra shelf of non-fiction.

The window display is mostly nostglia children's books (thanks to the LJ friend who suggested that).

Any Gerry Anderson fans interested in a £7 copy of the Torchy Gift Book?  (In surprisingly good condition, with postage at cost.)

The shop manager is good.  Doesn't micromanage.  Let me get on with the job and said 'yes' when I had to grab shelves from other parts of the shop.

Culled fiction that was past its date.  Added an awful lot of new fiction (raiding the back stock for the ones in the best condition.)  Sorted it all into alphabetical order.

Didn't have time to cull and restock the non-fiction, apart from adding the nostalgia children's books.  (Yes, I know they count as fiction in one sense, but they're 'retro' so they go on the non-fiction shelves along with the other old books.)

I've got over 100 old copies of Look and Learn magazines (issue numbers around 1000) and am still trying to figure the best way to display those.  Unfortunately, one of the boxes was on the floor and there's some damp crept into it.  Not too bad, but I'd like to dry them out if I can figure a way to do it.  Most of the copies are fine, and in very good condition.

Back again on Friday...

More books

Mar. 9th, 2012 05:37 pm
watervole: (books)
 I suggested to the shop manager that one way of dealing with the overflowing back stock of books was to increase the space selling books in the shop.  

Menswear isn't selling very well at present, so if we can find enough shelving, we're going to replace a rack of trousers with three more shelves of fiction.

We'll do the swap over on Monday, so that should keep me busy...

I'm also hoping that they'll go over to a sticker system for recording how long fiction has been on the shelves.  Our current technique is to record the date a book enters the shop on the price label and to check regularly for books that have been there a long time.  Oxfam use a four week colour rotation system which is a lot quicker.

The idea is that all books put out in week 1 have a small red sticker on the base of the spine.  Week 2 books have a blue dot.  Week 3, yellow and week four is green.  

In week five, you remove all the books with a red sticker and replace with a new lot of red books (or use a fifth colour if you want to avoid confusion).  It's much faster to check for books with a red sticker than it is to check the date individually on the back of each book.

It's not such a useful technique for non-fiction as the prices are often higher so the books get a longer shelf life.  There, it can still be useful to use the date labels.  However, for non-fiction worth two pounds or less, I want to start using coloured sticky dots.
watervole: (Default)
 I'm physically tired.  Another day sorting books.

Found a couple of good ones - a book from the Festival of Britain that should be worth around £18, a couple of 80 year old books about Hampshire and the New Forest.  (only about £6 each because of poor condition).

Sold three in the £5-£10 bracket.  One about Poole's history, a book of Benningfield's landscape paintings and a hundred year old book of church organ music (with some lovely hand-written notes in pencil by the original organist).

The catch is that the more we sell, the more we get.  Both local donations and books coming in from the depot are up.  Another five sacks of books arrived today, and that's not counting the two boxes that arrived since I was last in the shop on Friday.

Really, I only want to do one day a week in the shop - especially now the allotment season is starting.  I'm doing the better part of two days a week now, and even that is barely keeping pace with the problem.

The shop is short-handed overall.  We need more volunteers just to man the till, let alone help in the back room.  I've put a note on the book shelf asking for another volunteer for the book team. Hopefully, someone will be interested.

I've recently taken over the children's books as well.  I'm still getting up to speed on those.  The trick ( as with most books) is to cull the books that don't sell after a reasonable period of time and see what those books had in common.  The first few weeks suggest that condition is critical.  Old, tired looking books are usually the ones left behind.  Annuals are also very slow sellers (as they always have the year on them.) I think Beano may be an exception, but don't yet know for sure.  I'm pricing the annuals (apart from Beano and its like) very low indeed to see if that shifts them.

The other slow seller in children's books is what I'm starting to think of as 'granny' books.  They're the ones that grandparents buy because they liked them when they were young, or because they feel children should read the classics.  But they don't sell to modern children.

Young adult isn't selling, even though I think we had some good books.  I'm going to save these up for a while until we have a decent collection and then try a dedicated shelf of modern YA books rather than mixing them up with children's books in general.

I've found a very successful trick with mini books.  Little ones like "Yoga for Cats" and pretty much any book under 4inches in height and intended to be funny/a gift.  They don't sell at all on the book shelves, but are going like hot cakes since I put them out here and there with the bric a brac (colour matched with the china, etc.)
watervole: (Default)
For reasons that I've spoken about in locked postings (so as not to embarrass Scope), I've left Scope and am about to volunteer at the Red Cross shop in Poole.

Factors influencing my decision were:

1.  The books are in alphabetical order.  The hardback fiction is limited in quantity and is on a low shelf.  There are a number of old and moderately tatty (and would thus have been binned by a certain person in Scope), but collectable books that are clearly displayed and priced by someone who has looked them up on the Internet.

2.  The clothes are colour-blocked (the manager in Scope wanted to do this, but higher management forbade it).

3.  There is already a chair behind the till.

They also get bonus points for having a visiting expert who prices their collectible pottery, having friendly staff, arranging a clear time for me to go and talk to them in more detail about volunteering and by having a well-lit, attractive shop.

In other words, they make good use of the items that are donated to them and appear to treat their staff well.
watervole: (Default)
I've just fulfilled one of this year's resolutions by volunteering to help in a charity shop.

I've been on the verge several times before, but Oxfam took two volunteer forms and never got back to me, Help the Aged took my phone number and never rang.  The Hospice shop would have loved me, but their shop is damp and sets off my asthma.  Julia's House doesn't need any more volunteers, Age Concern is a dump and the manager is an idiot.

That's Broadstone.

So, I walked around Wimborne last Friday.  The best shops by far are the Red Cross and the Victoria Hospital shop.  However, I walked the other way around town, so I passed Oxfam, DEBRA and Scope first. 

Scope isn't the ultimate charity shop, far from it, but there's a loose family connection, so I decided to give it a shot (and they were desperate for helpers).

Scope used to be 'Cerebral Palsy' and before that, it was the 'Cripples Help Society'.   I know this mainly because when I was about ten, I had an operation on my feet and my grandmother borrowed a pair of crutches for me from them.  I knew she was involved in some manner with the Society, and looking on Google I found her obituary in the British Medical Journal in 1983 (she was a doctor).

Dr Mabel Lindsey, of Bramhall, Cheshire, who formerly worked in Manchester's public health department, died suddenly on 1 March aged 86.

Mabel Hodgson was born in Dunfermline on 30 August 1896 and attended Dunfermline High School, whence she won a Carnegie
scholarship to St Andrews University, graduating in medicine in 1921. Her first appointment was as resident medical officer at the Dundee Infant Hospital, her second as house physician at the Dundee Royal Infirmary. In 1923 she took the DPH, and in 1924 she became an assistant medical officer in the maternity and child welfare department of the Manchester public health service. Although she gave up full time work on her marriage in 1930 to Gilbert Lindsey, she continued to do locums. When her home was blitzed in 1940 she returned to Dunfermline with her two children and worked there for three years as an assistant medical officer of health. They went back to Manchester in 1944, and from then until her retirement in 1956 she was again employed on a part time basis in the Manchester public health department.

Dr Lindsey's retirement was put to good use: in all she did Mabel was an enthusiast, and her enthusiasm was infectious. When she found that the Bramhall auxiliary of the Cripples Help Society was in the doldrums she became its secretary and now, over 20 years later, it is a thriving organisation. Her reward for this work was the conferment of honorary life membership of the society in 1972. She was a founder member of the Stockport business and professional women's association. Her links with her old university were maintained through the Manchester association of the St Andrews Society, of which she was president for two years. She was also a member of the Manchester Medical Society.

Mabel's greatest interest was probably the Medical Women's Federation, which she had joined as a young doctor. Secretary of the Manchester and district branch for many years and later its president, she was well known to members both at home and abroad,
having served on the council and attended many of the international meetings, through which she made a number of lifelong friends.

She will be best remembered for her monumental achievement in assembling the federation scrapbook, a unique record of the activities of medical women.

At the age of 79, while still actively engaged in these many interests, Mabel became suddenly blind. It was a tremendous blow, but she was cheerful in adversity. Hers had been a wonderful marriage, and Gilbert was a tower of strength, helping her in every way so that she was able to enjoy as near normal a life as possible. Their two children and eight grandchildren were a source of great joy, and in 1982 they had the thrill of becoming great-grandparents. It was sad that Gilbert should fall ill a few weeks before Mabel's death as his admission to hospital separated them and each was worried about the other. Originally a Baptist, Mabel was confirmed into the Anglican church in late middle life.

She and Gilbert derived great comfort from their faith.-HJC.

(The great grandchild mentioned in the obituary was my son Kelvin.)

watervole: (Default)
[Poll #1557343]I was annoyed by a local charity shop today.  I spotted a bird book in one yesterday that looked potentially valuable to me. It was priced at £2.  I told the girl on the counter to seriously consider pricing it at a minimum of £10 and when I got home I looked it up on the Internet to find that the cheapest copy for sale was £75.

Went back to the shop today to be told by the guy in charge that he'd sold it to one of the staff.  He wouldn't tell me the price, but he stated that as a matter of principle he never priced a book higher than £5.  (I'm hoping he sold it to the girl I spoke to, because I think she'll give most of the money to the shop if she sells it elsewhere.)  He also added that he sold children's books at 10p and was most disgusted that Oxfam charge 30p for them.

I've spoken to this guy before. His shop barely makes enough money to cover the rent.  It isn't hard to see why....

He also believes that charity shops should never compete with other shops.  In fact, it is positively sinful for charity shops to compete with book shops.  The fact that there are no book shops in Broadstone seems to have slipped past him.

Went into another charity shop in Broadstone and was pleased to see that the skirt I'd donated the day before was on sale at £4.99.  (The other place would have sold it for less, which is why they didn't get it.  They underprice everything, but the shop looks so tatty that not many people go in there in the first place)  Both shops support similar charities - Age Concern and Help the Aged, but the contrast between the two is amazing.

One is dingy and full of junk.  The other is clean and bright and has clothes that are properly sorted and priced (and steamed).  I shop in both, but I spend more money in the nicer one.


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Judith Proctor


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