Charity shops see record sales and donations after reopening

Lorraine Curston (right), founder of Sprowston-based Dawn's New Horizon, in its charity shop on Cannerby Lane.

Lorraine Curston (right), founder of Sprowston-based Dawn's New Horizon, in its charity shop on Cannerby Lane, with Christina Martin, a community champion for the domestic abuse support group from Harford Bridge Tesco store. - Credit: Sophie Wyllie

Charity shops are appealing for quality donations as people flocked back for bargains as stores reopened.

Some reported record sales with queues of shoppers outside as well as a major boost in donations on Monday, April 12, when non-essential businesses could reopen as part of the government's roadmap out of coronavirus restrictions.

Steve Poole, Cancer Research UK retail area manager for Norfolk, said: ”Cancer Research UK shops rely on donations of good quality items including clothes and books to stock our shops and help support our work to beat cancer.

“Yesterday, across the region, we had a very good response with lots of donations coming through our shop doors and our volunteers returning to help out. There was a lovely positive feeling to the whole day and it felt like a Boxing Day sale with our supporters queuing to get in."

Lorraine Curston, founder of Dawn's New Horizon domestic abuse support group, outside its charity shop in Sprowston.

Lorraine Curston, founder of Dawn's New Horizon domestic abuse support group, outside its charity shop on Cannerby Lane, Sprowston, in April 2021. - Credit: Sophie Wyllie

Lorraine Curston, founder of Norwich-based Dawn's New Horizon domestic abuse support group, said it was amazing to reopen its charity shop on Cannerby Lane, Sprowston, to happy faces.

But she said because the shop and advice centre continued to take in items for emergency parcels on certain days to help abuse survivors during the lockdown many bags, including dirty and broken items, were dumped outside.

Mrs Curston, who opened the shop nine years ago, said: "It costs us money to get our bins emptied. We have spent £760 disposing of rubbish over the past year. A lot of people use charity shops as dumping grounds which isn't fair."

She appealed for nice quality items.

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The support group founder had to put up a sign at the weekend requesting no donations as she has two 20-foot long trailers full of items but it will start accepting donations from next week.

Keely Blows and Curtis Irish, Teddy, and Marlowe, cutting the ribbon of the Royston EACH charity shop on April 12, 2021.

Keely Blows and Curtis Irish, son Teddy, nine, and daughter Marlowe, three, who received support from EACH when their daughter and sister, Tallulah, died at just less than three-weeks-old in December 2013.They cut the ribbon of the Royston EACH charity shop on April 12, 2021. - Credit: EACH

East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH) took three times the level of income and donations it normally would on its first day back for its 43 shops.

Together they took £32,500 on Monday, compared to £11,500 on an average day, plus 3,100 bags and boxes of donations, compared to 1,000 on an average day.

Sarah Throssell, EACH acting head of retail, said: “We knew there would be a deluge of donations and I’m pleased to say we’re coping with the numbers we’ve received at the moment, but we’re still urging customers who plan to bring along donations to call ahead. We are overwhelmed with people’s generosity.

"We must make sure we keep our premises safe for staff and volunteers, so in some cases we may consider limiting daily donations."

Ben Langley with Sylvia Merriott, manager of the Mind charity shop in Diss, on its April 12 reopening in 2021.

Norfolk entertainer Ben Langley with Sylvia Merriott, manager of the Mind charity shop in Diss, on its April 12 reopening in 2021. - Credit: Kye Farrow

Sylvia Merriott, manager of the Mind charity shop in Diss, said: "It was our best day of takings ever. We are thrilled."

She added some people left the odd donation bag over lockdown but it was not as bad when compared to other shops.

On the days leading up to the reopening the volunteers had to sort through 184 bags.

Norfolk entertainer Ben Langley (left) and Burston resident Pat opening the Mind charity shop in Diss on April 12, 2021.

Norfolk entertainer Ben Langley (left) opening the Mind charity shop in Diss on April 12, 2021, with Pat, 84, from Burston, who cheers up the Diss community by cycling on his colourful bike every day. - Credit: Kye Farrow

"That was brilliant. We need to keep them coming. That is where the charity's money comes from," Mrs Merriott said.

Dr Christopher Bushby, chief executive of Norfolk and Waveney's cancer charity the Big C, said there were queues outside some of its ten Norfolk charity shops.

He said because it limited donation drop-offs on certain days it did not have a spike in donations.

Dr Christopher Bushby, chef executive of the Big C charity.

Dr Christopher Bushby, chef executive of the Big C charity. - Credit: Julian Claxton Photography

The chief executive added that takings across all stores were high and at its Distribution Centre and Furniture Emporium in Wymondham, sales were up 400pc on Monday after taking £3,500 compared to the same day in 2019 when sales were £702.

Dr Bushby said it was good to have a certain quality of items.

Anna Perkins, founder of the Smile Shop on Bowthorpe Road in Norwich, after it reopened on April 12, 2021.

Anna Perkins, founder of the Smile Shop on Bowthorpe Road in Norwich, after it reopened on April 12, 2021. - Credit: Anna Perkins

Anna Perkins, founder of the Smile Shop on Bowthorpe Road in Norwich, which supports individual causes and children, said: "It was amazing reopening. The shop was buzzing. Everyone was glad we are open. We had a lot of donations."

She added that the community interest company, which only opened its shop five days before the March lockdown last year, has had to temporarily stop taking in donations after being inundated.

One charity that delayed its shop reopenings was the Priscilla Bacon Hospice appeal, which is raising £12.5m for a new hospice to replace the 40-year-old Priscilla Bacon Lodge on Unthank Road, Norwich.

It will open its seven stores across Norfolk from April 22-24 with stock collected from 3,200 households, organised by the good cause.

Priscilla Bacon Hospice staff member Alison Stockwell.

Priscilla Bacon Hospice staff member Alison Stockwell who picked up 600 bags of donations for the charity's shops in the last lockdown. - Credit: Priscilla Bacon Hospice Appeal

Sandra Dinneen, strategic project advisor of the Priscilla Bacon Hospice appeal, said: “We are delighted that the people of Norfolk have again so wholeheartedly supported the charity with their donations of stock for our shops. Our retail operation plays an important role of raising funds."

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