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Charity shops boom as shoppers hunt for bargains

By The Cornishman  |  Posted: March 01, 2014

  • Penzance Air Ambulance shop l-r Dee Slade, Karen Tarry and Adrian Alcock. PZPM20140224C-001_C.JPG

  • At Cornwall Air Ambulance shop, from left, Karen Tarry, Dee Slade and Adrian Alcock.

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CHARITY shops are booming with more and more springing up in high streets across the county.

In hard times, it seems shoppers are keen to grab a bargain and have realised the hidden gems which can be discovered when perusing through second-hand goods.

However, with the demand in products comes the pressure to find more volunteers to run the shops.

One Penzance store said it is struggling to keep up with shoppers – because there simply aren't enough willing volunteers.

The Cornwall Air Ambulance store at Greenmarket is desperately looking for help to deal with the masses of donations they receive ever week.

Store manager Karen Tarry said she would love more volunteers so they can stay competitive with other stores.

"It's busy and we are at the point where we need volunteers. If we have a few people we can keep on top of it, but if on my own there's mountains of it. If it gets to a point where we can't cope on our own one day we'd have to shut the shop."

The shop currently has around ten volunteers, with an average shift consisting of two or three hours a week.

Six days a week the store is a flurry of activity as a small dedicated team of volunteers work tirelessly to keep the shop going, helping to meet sales targets.

Karen, who has managed the Penzance shop since August last year, said extra volunteers would help ease the pressure.

"It's nice if you can get someone who's really dedicated. At the end of the day it's all voluntary so we have to avoid overworking our staff. We have to be flexible to what they can do."

Karen started as a volunteer before progressing to store manager and knows first-hand the benefits of volunteering.

"There's the possibility of training for those interested in retail. People can get involved in what they like, whether it's front of house or not. Volunteering builds people's confidence and there's a chance of progression. We can accommodate people from all walks of life," she said.

Maria Pellow is retired and has volunteered at the shop for two years.

She has often dropped everything in short notice to help Karen at the shop because she wants to ensure it will stay open.

She said: "We work hard but we can have a laugh and it's a nice atmosphere. Since I have been here I have been working on the window displays and I help the customers. I get work satisfaction out of it. It helps to save lives. It might not look like I put much in but at the end of the day, every little bit helps."

The Penzance Air Ambulance shop is open Monday to Saturday from 9.30am until 5pm.

If you can spare time to volunteer, call Karen on 01736 369241 or visit the website corn wallairambulancetrust.org

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5 comments

  • buster2  |  March 20 2014, 7:30PM

    I have visited several charity shops in Plymouth and must agree with Shirley that the best one in town is definitely the St Lukes £1 shop. It is always clean and the staff are friendly and helpful. But the most important thing is that you definitely get good value for your money.

    |   2
  • cornwall999  |  March 01 2014, 11:52PM

    Charity shops are are being run like cooperate businesses and Priti Patel Conservative MP who is on the public select comittee has stated that charities should spend less on executive salaries. Some executives earn more than the Prime Minister and are on six figure salaries which really is disgraceful. Charity bosses need to remind themselves that charity is a vocation , not an opportunity for personal enrichment . St Luke's charity shop in Plymouth is amazing, everything is £1 or less and always very busy .I feel as these items are generously given by the public it should be reasonably priced for everyone. Shirley Sweeney

    |   3
  • Wazzamatter  |  March 01 2014, 3:46PM

    Men's trousers and jacket, second hand no-name in the charity shops, £25 each. In Asda, brand new £20 for trousers £25 for jackets. Charity shops keep putting their prices up and up until it is just as cheap, often cheaper, to buy new. I've only seen one 'respectable' charity shop over the last couple of years, and that one is in Newton Abbot where every item of clothing is £1.99 and every pair of shoes is £1.99 :-/

    |   2
  • twofeetofsnow  |  March 01 2014, 11:45AM

    Bargains? Take a look at the prices in the window of Oxfam, half the time they want as much as the shops that actually pay business rates.

    |   3
  • josdave  |  March 01 2014, 11:37AM

    When is this rubbish going to be removed permanently?

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