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 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.
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.
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.”
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.
“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.
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, which supports individual causes and children, said: “We had a lot of donations on Monday but we are ok for storage.”
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.
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.”