EHAAT Retail: Anne Ellis
Pictured: Burnham-on-Crouch Charity Shop Manager Theresa Collier and Charity Shop Assistant Anne Ellis.
Under the spotlight
This month the spotlight turns to our retail chain. Our Charity Shops are not only essential in raising those all-important, life-saving funds, but are a vital part of the communities in Essex and Hertfordshire. We’ve continued to grow our Charity Shops, with our Royston and Buntingford Shops opening in 2017. Our first shop of 2018 will open in Hitchin later this month, and now a donation centre in Stevenage is set for mid-March.
We took an opportunity to catch up with Anne Ellis, Charity Shop Assistant at Burnham-on-Crouch Shop, to find out what it’s like to be part of our retail chain. Burnham has been crowned our most improved Charity Shop, having doubled their weekly sales in the last six months.
Hi Anne, how has your day been?
My day has been lovely thank you. It’s actually my birthday today so we’ve had a wonderful day with lots of cake and chatter – people have been popping in to wish me a Happy Birthday all day long! Everyone has been very kind.
How lovely, Happy Birthday! Would you say that you are well known in the community?
Oh yes, the Shop is a real community Shop with a community spirit. Everyone who works here is so friendly and caring, you get people popping in all day to say hello and have a chat. We have a lot of regular visitors as well as people just passing by for a little look around.
Has the shop been busier recently?
Definitely, both in donations and in visitors. Around Christmas we saw a massive increase in the donation of unwanted gifts and also of Christmas decorations. People were very generous, we have plenty to sell next December! Our shop turnover has also improved too which is just fantastic!
Do you have many Volunteers in your shop?
We have 16 Volunteers and we really couldn’t do it without them. Myself, Theresa (Charity Shop Manager) and the Volunteers consider ourselves one big Team. The Volunteers can make decisions of their own, we are all very easy going and happy individuals so it works really well.
How do you get new Volunteer recruits?
We have noticed a growth since Theresa and I started advertising on our notice board however a lot of it comes from word of mouth and being sociable. Quite often we get talking to people when they come into the Shop so we tell them all about what we get up to and the Charity. They see how lovely a place it is to work and want to help out. Our Volunteer shift patterns vary depending on what each person can do, we have some that do one shift a week and others that might pick up five!
Do you find that people recognise Essex & Herts Air Ambulance as a Charity?
We have found that the presence of the Shop in the community has helped, as many people had heard of us before, but assumed that we were run by the NHS. I think our presence makes people more aware and it encourages people to come and tell us their stories. We have had visits from past patients which is always very humbling. I think people in Burnham are very grateful for the Charity and a lot of people talk about ‘what if’ scenarios in needing the Air Ambulance, as Burnham is quite far out of the way.
What kind of items do you sell in the shop?
Our best sellers are probably clothes and toys. We do find ourselves acting as a personal shopper sometimes! We take note of specific items that people are looking for and notify them when it comes in. As people arrive, we sometimes show them to items we feel they would like as we are getting to know our customers quite well now!
Do you receive a lot of donations?
Our donations really have rocketed. We find that people have been travelling from further afield to donate their goods to the Charity Shop which is just amazing. We are looking forward to the new warehouse so that we can store those items that are slightly too big for our little Shop. We often get people saying that it’s a shame our Shop isn’t bigger so that we could set up some tables for coffee and cake!
Thank you so much for your time today Anne, is there anything else that you would like to add?
It really is just a wonderful little community Shop. I think that even if people don’t buy anything, if you can make someone happy with a 10 minute conversation then that is just as important.
If you would like to find out where your nearest Essex & Herts Air Ambulance Charity Shop is then just visit our Charity Shop page. Are you inspired by Anne to join our Team of Charity Shop Volunteers? Contact our Team today to support your local life-saving Charity.