6 June 2023

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Every bag of donations is like a lucky dip

Managing our Streatham store is a match made in heaven for its manager Anabel

Streatham Store

All of our shop managers are energetic and enthusiastic. And then there’s Anabel Garcia Romero…

Anabel has worked for St Christopher’s shops for two and a half years. Her main job is managing the Streatham store. But with this location also serving as the central warehouse for all the hospice’s 23 shops, there’s never a quiet moment.

Anywhere between 100-200 bags, each containing 20-30 items, are dropped off every day of the week and they all need sorting there and then to ensure Anabel and her team are ready to receive the next day’s donations.

“It’s always been my passion to have my own shop and I love working in the charity sector, so this is the perfect job for me,” says Anabel. “Every day is different, with new challenges. But on a normal day I come in at 9am and straight away we start putting out the stock and sorting the donations.

“We have to decide whether items are suitable for our core, premium or clearance shops – it’s about knowing the quality.”

With the shop open seven days a week and a team of just 10 trusted volunteers to rely on, Anabel and her team work flat out deciding where to send each item.

Anabel adds: “Opening every bag of donations is like a lucky dip as you never know what is going to be inside. I think some of the best things we’ve had are Alexander McQueen and Gucci. Getting donations like that is wonderful because you can go higher on price. I feel really strongly that everyone has the right to good care and items like that can make such a difference.”

“I’m so proud of the team in terms of what we’ve achieved, making this such a good shop when we’re so busy as the warehouse as well.

“All the volunteers get on so well as a team and all feel strongly about making the shop look good.”

Perhaps contrary to the stereotypical view of charity shop volunteers, Anabel says two of her top colleagues are men. One of whom, Chris, went above and beyond recently when they were short staffed.

“Chris is 76, but he loves working here and when we needed him he came in for six days in a row, just because he really wanted to help. I got him a box of chocolates to say thank you!”

While she is already hectic, Anabel was delighted to be asked to take a lead role in St Christopher’s first ever Wedding Fair. Her main task is to prep all the stock ready for the fair two-day fair on 1 and 2 July at St Christopher’s CARE.

“We were very lucky that a wedding shop closed down and donated all its stock, including more than 100 dresses. There’ll also be all the accessories, mother of the bride and bridesmaid dresses as well as some nice suits for the men.”

With a mixture of regular locals and a growing number of young customers, Anabel says the shop is busier than ever and she would definitely welcome more volunteers and more donations.

“We always welcome new people to come and volunteer. There’s so much you can do in the shop, whether you like merchandising, or interacting with customers, whatever it is we can accommodate.

“In terms of what we’d like more of – bric-a-brac would be number one. Any homeware items people can use for decorating their house sell very well.”

To find out more about how you can volunteer either in the Streatham shop or any of our stores, click here. And for more information about how you can donate items, click here.

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