There are over 9,000 charity shops in the UK, so how can you make sure that yours stands out from the crowd and supports your cause as much as possible? Well, we have a few pointers below to help make your shop a success in the local community.
Window dressing – this is without a doubt the most important part of the whole shop. What you place in the window makes the difference between enticing passers by, and putting them off visiting forever. Make sure to make the most of the creative talents of your staff to create great window displays. Do you have any fashion experts as volunteers, who can make sure that your window mannequins show off the best of your stock? It’s also really important to regularly change the window display to make sure that your shop front doesn’t just become ‘part of the scenery’ as far as passing trade is concerned.
Promotions and sales – periodically run sales and promotions in your store. The options are wide. You could offer a flat percentage off certain types of goods, or run a ‘cheapest item free’ deal in certain weeks. Look at the days, weeks or months when your store struggles to attract business, and plan your promotions accordingly.
Social media – a huge amount of business for modern charity shops comes from collectors, and people interested in vintage fashion. Both of these users can be found online in droves. Hand over the management of your shop’s social media to a suitable volunteer and get them to show off new items in store using your shop’s page.
Keep stock high, but also high quality – always be prepared to say no to a donated item, or to decide not to put it out on the shop floor. Make sure that the items your customers see as they enter the store are high quality and look attractive. Make sure not to have empty or unused space on the shop floor.
Acquiring stock – we live in a world where listing an item on an online auction site is so quick and easy, and many people will decide to do this, and perhaps never even consider donating an item to a charity shop. This means that keeping your shop full of quality second hand items can be easier said than done. One of the best ways to keep stock coming in is to make sure to keep awareness of your store high. Signs in the windows can help with this, but a great way is through charity events. For example, you could run a bake sale where cakes are not purchased with money, but with a donated item for your shop. Almost any fundraising idea can be re-adapted to raise stock instead of money, and you can see loads more fundraising ideas be using the links at the bottom of this article.
Use internet auction sites – it is easy to see an auction site like eBay as an enemy of charity shops, with unwanted items now finding their way their, instead of to your shop, but it doesn’t have to be that way. You can also use online auction sites as a great ally, by creating an online version of your store. By listing some of your best items online at a fixed ‘buy-it-now’ price, you can take your customer base from a very local one, to a global one in just a click of the mouse.