A day in the life of a shop manager

March 2022


In celebration of International Women’s Day, we’re highlighting a day in the life of one of our shop managers. Madeline is not only the manager of our Royal Wootton Bassett shop but also a single mum balancing work with childcare and even runs her own business in the evenings. Madeline started at our Pewsey shop 10 months ago as assistant manager and moved to this shop last November when she got promoted to shop manager. She is highly organised and, in her first weeks in the role, set to work to get the shop and store room decluttered, reorganised and all labeled up. She gave us an insight into a typical day in her life.

8:45am After a short journey across Swindon, dropping the children at school and the childminders, I arrive at the shop to open up and get ready for the volunteers to arrive.  I’m fortunate that I have some wonderful volunteers supporting me and I know that I can leave them to manage the shop floor for a short time while I catch up with emails and admin in the back area. Ian, one of our long term volunteers, will be manning the shop floor today. He’s great with the customers and can give me a call on the internal phone if he needs me. We have three or four volunteers a day who help me run the shop. Some come into the stock room and sort through donations and others stay on the shop floor to greet & serve customers. Because of the dual site location I couldn’t manage without our superb team of volunteers. Ian volunteers all day and knows everything there is to know about the shop which means I can leave him to it most of the day. Some of our other volunteers are taking holidays at the moment so I’m grateful for his dedication and continued support.

9.10am I do a quick check of the shop floor making sure it’s tidy and there are no health and safety risks and redo a few of the shop displays. Just swapping out a couple of items from the displays gives it a fresh look, which keeps the customers happy. We have a new volunteer starting soon with experience in visual merchandising so she will be looking after most of our four window displays. At the moment I like to theme them in colour schemes, unless we have other season themes such as Easter, but it will be great to see what she will come up with.

10.15am We have had some gorgeous china plates donated to the shop so I look through eBay to research their value. If it is worth more than we could sell it for in the shop then I send it to our ecommerce team to list on the Prospect Hospice eBay site. For me, it’s wonderful to see all the donations that come into the shop. Local people are so generous. My role is to make sure we get the best price for all our donated items so that we can raise as much money for the hospice as possible.

10.25am A lady pops into the stock room with a bag full of donations. I always ask if they are registered with us for Gift Aid and can check on the system for their number. All donations are labelled with the unique Gift Aid number which is then scanned at the tills. Gift Aid raises an additional 25p per £1, which as you can imagine is amazing for the charity. We can track each donor so we can let them know how much they’ve helped raise for the hospice.

10.37am We have another donation drop off. A lady has dropped off some lovely illustrated children’s books and I know they’ll sell quickly. It’s been a good day for donations so far with a wide range of items dropped off. It’s why I love it here. You never know who’s going to walk in the door with what and our customers love knowing that they never know what unique items they’re going to unearth – it’s part of the reason we have so many regular customers coming in to see what we have each time. We also benefit from the wider Swindon area as the hospice has a couple of van drivers that bring us regular stock from the warehouse, so we are never low on the shop floor. You really never know what’s going to be on the shelves but isn’t that the beauty of a charity shop?

10.45am Ian calls from the shop, so I lock up the stock room and head down to see him. The till roll is jammed and needs some attention – it’s never dull here! Ian tells me that a man has just come in and spent money in the shop buying a lot of children’s clothing to send to Ukraine and I smile. Local people are so generous – not only do they donate to us but quite often they’re buying on behalf of other people. Ian has rearranged the books into author categories and sold some so there’s an empty shelf that needs some more stock, so I head to the stock room to grab some more books so Ian can replenish – a small problem I relish as free space means we’re selling and raising vital funds and it means we can have a play with some new displays and get more items out to sell.

12.00pm Time to head back to the shop so that Ian can take a lunch break. The shop is filled with customers but Ian has it all under control and is chatting away to them all. Our volunteers really are wonderful and they’re such an asset to us. The shop serves as a community hub many days with regulars coming in almost daily just to see a friendly face and say hello. One lady is only in the shop for a minute as she comes in just to have a chat and a quick walk around the clothing section. She once came into the shop just after losing her son and Ian offered her a seat and a friendly ear so now she pops in to see his friendly face every week.

12.15pm While I’m in the shop I do a till total to see how much we have taken this morning, as Ian says it has been a busy morning. It’s nice to know that the money we raise goes to support local people. My grandad was cared for by Prospect Hospice so it will always be a charity close to my heart and means I have added motivation to make sure that the shop does well.

12.30pm I rearrange some of the displays after some purchases have made space. There has been a lot of homeware sold today but our usual best sellers are women’s and children’s clothing. A lady comes into the shop to ask if we accept men’s suits. I agree to take in the donation but do tell her that we don’t have a big demand for suits locally but could possibly be sent on to our Old Town shop which has a bridal and formal dress section. I work closely with the managers of our other fourteen shops and it’s nice to be able to send donations to a shop where I know they’ll be sold.

1.00pm The twice a week van delivery arrives bringing five bags of spring and summer clothing ready for the spring launch next week. They also take away any excess donations and items for recycling. Any electrical items we are donated need to go back to the warehouse for PAT testing so we know they’re safe to sell and then they are returned to us to put on the shelves.

2.00pm An email pops in my inbox from the Royal Wotton Bassett Carnival which will be taking place in May. We have been asked to decorate our windows in gold and join in the ‘spot the mistake in the window’ competition for the week. I’ll need to start collecting gold items so that I have a stash ready for May. I can request stock from other shops and the warehouse too when I have a theme to follow. For the ‘spot the mistake’ competition we need to put something in our window that is obviously not for sale so I need to come up with some ideas for this. It is good to be part of a community and support these events in the town. It brings people together.

3.30pm Chloe arrives to volunteer for her Duke of Edinburgh Award. She gets on with hanging up the new stock ready to go into the shop. It’s nice to have such a wide range of ages that volunteer with us. It brings different experience and perspectives.

4.00pm I write my handover notes to Claire the assistant manager as I’m not in tomorrow. I also check the staff and volunteer rotas and make sure we have enough people in each day next week. I then make sure the back sorting area is clear, the shop floor is tidy and hoovered ready for tomorrow.

4.30pm I lock up for the day, do the shops daily banking and head home. I think of work as ‘me time’, a break from the children, adult interaction, it’s definitely not a chore for me at all. I do really love working for Prospect Hospice, they have supported me when I have needed it and I can’t wait to continue to help raise more money for such a fabulous charity.

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