Since starting writing a monthly blog for Fuzz in January, I realised that I’ve only really touched upon my day job a little. Therefore, October’s blog is all about a day in the life of a charity shop manager.
I started working as the manager of a local charity shop back in January 2014, so as it stands I’ve been part of the furniture for almost four years. During that time, I have seen it all, quite literally. From pilfering pensioners to donated dildos, every day is a brand new experience yet the very same thing at the same time.
A stereotypical day in my life starts with the dreaded walk to work. After battling my way through an army of raging parents dragging their kids to school (I like kids but living near a school is an absolute nightmare), I make the 20 minute walk to the top of the street where I work, and wonder what’s going to be waiting for me outside the shop. Sometimes there’s nothing, sometimes because nobody’s left anything, sometimes because somebody’s already stolen the goods from outside. However, a lot of the time there’s somewhere in the region of 5-10 big bags of donations. “Great, how kind!” you must think. Normally, I would agree, but baring in mind I live in West Wales, where it rains for what feels like 99% of the year, being welcomed by ten rain sodden bags isn’t my idea of fun. As much as this disheartens me, nothing will be as annoying as the time when someone thought it was okay to dump a filthy double bed and mattress outside the shop, but I’ll save that story for another day.
Once I arrive, I have half an hour to myself before the shop doors open. Thirty minutes of peaceful bliss until seven hours of the unexpected. As soon as I open the doors, it’s impossible to guess what stories I’ll have by the end of the day. Normally, one of the first people I see is one my volunteers. I work with a loyal bunch of 20 volunteers, most of whom donate their time on a weekly basis. We catch up with what’s new since they were last in, and have a good old natter before we get down to work.
An important daily job is the sorting. We’re really lucky that we get a lot of donations in every day, and amongst the rain sodden bags dumped outside, people do actually take the time to drop off goods during opening hours which are always a thrill to go through. Donations are a total mixed bag – you can never second guess what you’re going to get in. From the good to the bad to the unspeakable, nothing surprises me anymore.
After sifting through the rubbish and preparing the treasure for sale, it’s time to make my way onto the shop floor. This is where I come across the most eclectic bunch of characters, the customers. My favourites are the mighty regs; the customers who I’ve come to know on first name terms, those who you can have an extended conversation with, the ones who come in on at least a weekly basis and are our best customers.
However, there’s also the second level regs, those who come in fairly often and you know them by sight. Not forgetting the moaners (who want everything for next to nothing), the one off’s (who tend to have a shopping spree once every year), the peculiar, the ones who talk to our mannequin as if she’s real (could also be classed under the peculiar bracket), the screaming banshees, the light fingered, the holidaymakers, the quiet-as-a-mouse bunch, the problematic donors (who want their bags/boxes back, lie about the condition of their donations, or the men who patronise me by telling me a million times to “be careful because the box is heavy”), and just your regular customer.
Whilst the donations that come through the door are a surprise, more often than not, so are the customers themselves. You’ll come across rude, ignorant, annoying people in every job but for the most part, the customers are a pleasant and interesting bunch.
Alongside the sorting and dealing with the customers, there’s everything else. Piles of paperwork, updating social media, dealing with head office, trying to take a lunch break, dealing with queries, making cups of tea which barely get touched, banking, tidying, cleaning, creating window displays, changing the mannequins, doing gift aid, working with organisations to get new volunteers on board, having fun and games with the current volunteers, sorting the recycling and rubbish, creating deals and special offers, researching potentially valuable items, getting involved with community projects, and so much more.
There’s a lot to be said about working in a charity shop. It wasn’t what I set out to do in life, and it isn’t what I want to do forever. However, it’s a rewarding job, knowing that the money raised on a daily basis goes towards improving the lives of families in the local community. On top of that, I have made friendships for life, something which I’m truly grateful for.
Whilst I’ve already experienced so much in my job, I can’t wait to see what else will come my way.