11 July 2023

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‘Boutique Harrods’ at the heart of Bromley community

Chatterton Road

Store Manager Jacqui reaps reward of ideal mix of quality, customer service and community spirit in Chatterton Road shop

After a lifetime in corporate retail Jacqui says the timing of her redundancy couldn’t have worked out better.

“I’m originally from Sydenham so knew about St Christopher’s as my mum volunteered there, and my best friend had just died there when I saw the job advertised at the Chatterton Road shop in Bromley,” says Jacqui.

Chatterton Road Store

“I’m originally from Sydenham so knew about St Christopher’s as my mum volunteered there, and my best friend had just died there when I saw the job advertised at the Chatterton Road shop in Bromley,” says Jacqui.

Two and half years later after promotion to manager, Jacqui has absolutely no regrets about the switch to the charity sector.

Jacqui adds: “It’s the best move I’ve ever made. I would highly recommend it. It’s so rewarding to see what not just this shop, but all the shops are achieving. At the end of every day I go home, soak in the bath with my back aching after a hard day’s work happy and with a great feeling that I’ve really achieved something.”

In terms of what the shop has achieved, Jacqui is quick to acknowledge the major role played by her team of 11 volunteers, two of whom have been working in the shop for well over a decade and are in their 80s. All, she says, are motivated by the cause – of the hospice, are highly valued and treated with purpose, respect and appreciation.

For her latest recruits, Jacqui didn’t need to cast the net very wide. “The last five I took on were all regular customers. They came in here so often and loved the atmosphere that I just said, ‘why don’t you come and volunteer?’, and they did.” Among these new recruits is a woman whose expertise in jewellery and bric-a-brac is proving very profitable.

Together, Jacqui and the team are receiving more and better quality donations all the time, which in turn means they’re selling more and raising more for the hospice.

Using all the skills and knowledge from decades of experience in retail, Jacqui has brought a real sense of style to Chatterton Road shop, she says proudly:

“Customers come in and say it feels like a little boutique. Some even call it a little Harrods,”

Jacqui’s pride in the look of the shop is at least matched by the way she feels about its place at the heart of the community. Jacqui’s very pleased to have helped one particular volunteer to flourish through their time volunteering in the shop, gaining new skills, confidence and a sense of purpose under her supervision.

“We’re situated behind the main road in what’s classed as a village, and everyone waves to us when they walk past the shop. We have so many loyal customers who come in at least three times a week which makes for a real community atmosphere.”

Ladies designer fashion items and high end bric-a-brac are the best sellers right now, but Jacqui is grateful for all donations – “So long as that doesn’t include a bag full of mouldy shoes with a mouse nest still in it,” she quickly adds.

As for volunteers, Jacqui says she can always use more hands on deck, but stresses that it’s a job with many different elements. “You need to be able talk to the customers, make the shop look pretty and do the hard work of lifting and carrying boxes. But I wouldn’t change it for anything.”

If you’d like to volunteer in the Chatterton Road shop, or any of our shops, find out how here. Discover how to donate items to our shops here.

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