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  • Giving the Gift of Time - The differences between Waitrose and Thames Hospice charity shops

Giving the Gift of Time - The differences between Waitrose and Thames Hospice charity shops

When starting to write this blog, I thought I would have a long list of differences - after all Waitrose and Thames Hospice charity shops couldn't be more different, surely? However, when I started to write it, I kept finding myself thinking of more and more similarities. And so this blog comes in two parts; part one - the differences and, part two, the similarities.Waitrose_Thames Hospice

So, to start with the differences between Waitrose and Thames Hospice charity shops;

1. Every idea's a good idea

Should we offer volunteers the opportunity to meet up and feedback every now and then? Yes, sounds good. Should we join up with local corporate groups and run a 'charity shop challenge' event to raise awareness and funds? Yes great idea. Should we build links with local schools, colleges and interest groups to give us a pipeline of volunteers? Definitely.

I could go on. There are so many ideas and areas where you could do more, but there is simply not the resource to be able to follow everything through. Therefore focus and prioritisation followed by strong execution are needed to capitalise on ideas and make things happen.

2. It's a squeeze!

Considering the amount of work that has to go into preparing the donations for sale on the shop floor, many charity shops do not have a lot of back of house space to do this.

Whereas roughly half of Waitrose' floor space will be back of house, some charity shops can barely fit two people into their space. Donations need to be sorted, steamed and processed before being put out, so the space must be run very efficiently to make the most of it.

3. Availability with a twist

At Waitrose, so much importance is placed on availability - getting the right stock in the right place at the right time. This is a team effort across central forecasting, distribution and our branches. Whether it's being able to respond to spikes in sausage sales in a warm spell, or getting turkey demand right at Christmas.

With charity shops, availability takes on a different meaning. Yes it's important to have great quality donations, and plenty of them, but there is no list of lines to order from, no way of knowing what will be donated from one day to the next. Visual merchandising becomes really important to bring all the separate pieces together and offer a consistent, compelling and professional look and feel.

4.Master of everything

Specialists at Waitrose offer support and expert advice across the Partnership. Whether it's a location planning team which focuses on getting the right shops in the right locations, or a customer insight team ensuring the customer's voice is heard.

In a smaller charity, like Thames Hospice, you have to be the master of all sorts. Whether it's a shop opening, the development of a way to measure customer feedback, or a new shop opening program - there are no specialist teams to advise along the way, just the skill and expertise of the individual or team leading the project. On a personal level, this has been great for me, as I'm able to get involved across a much wider breadth of areas.

5. Growth or decline?

In the charity retail sector, shop numbers are up by 1.7% this year. This is reflected here at Thames Hospice - driven by the need to increase funding to meet demand for beds on the Inpatient Unit.

In contrast, in the grocery industry, many retailers are closing shops and selling off property. Morrisons recently announced plans to sell off 140 of its convenience stores for £125 million, following huge annual losses. Meanwhile, earlier this year, Tesco started the process of selling off land from abandoned supermarket development projects.

Part two is coming soon...

You can read more from Marianne over the coming months, or via her website here. Why not follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest or Google+ while you're at it?