Celebrating Second Hand September
It’s Second Hand September so we asked Retail Shop Manager, Claire Phillips, to tell us why she thinks St Wilfrid’s shops are so popular.
St Wilfrid’s Charity Shops beat the rest of the high street as a retail experience. From the moment you walk in, you have a warm welcome and a friendly smile, with soft music playing.
We pride ourselves on our excellent customer service, with a kind, caring nature from all our volunteers and staff. Our relaxed atmosphere encourages customers to browse at their leisure and enjoy what the shop has to offer. We want to make sure buying pre-loved items is a rewarding experience.
St Wilfrid’s has 10 retail shops and another due to open in Polegate soon. We have a wide range of second-hand donations from high-end fashion and antiques to vintage, boutique and shabby chic items. We also sell greetings cards, diaries and Christmas cards at competitive prices. Our three fantastic shops at Langney Road, Moy Avenue and Green Street in Eastbourne all have a good selection of furniture, bric-a-brac and entertainment items.
Our shops provide high quality items at affordable prices, attracting a wide demographic of shopper including fashion conscious bargain hunters, as well as people in financial need.
We also have a dedicated e-commerce team listing new items every day on our eBay, Etsy, Depop and Vinted online stores, and some exciting and unusual items can often be found here.
Second hand donations make up 90% of an average charity shop’s stock. At the time of writing, there are 11,200 charity shops in the UK, raising approximately £270 million a year. That’s 200 more shops than when I started with St Wilfrid’s in January 2023. The number of stores opening is rising year-on-year, with high street stores closing and charity shops moving in.
Some people donate items to St Wilfrid’s shops to support the hospice and the care either they or a relative has received from us. The overwhelming majority of people who donate recognise the importance of the on-going care and work that the hospice provides to patients and families.
I undertook some research, asking university students a few questions about charity shops. The questions and answers are below.
Why do you shop in charity shops?
- I like finding items that are unique and not on the high street.
- Pre-owned is better than fast fashion.
- I want to buy something that is vintage and not on the high street.
- I get compliments all the time when I wear a unique piece from a charity shop.
- One-of-a-kind item, sustainable, local.
- Reuse, recycle – when I’m ready to change the item, I can donate it back.
- Find a bargain, I get excited when I see something I like and need, even if I don’t need it, I want it.
- Nostalgia, bringing back memories.
- Fun day out with friends, cheap and getting many bargains.
- I never know what I will find but we always buy something.
Why do you shop in St Wilfrid’s shops specifically?
- St Wilfrid’s has a nice, calm feel. Lovely, clean, uncluttered shops, everything is in order, it’s easy to look around with nice atmosphere, music playing no pressure from anyone to buy, volunteers always smile, and we don’t feel they are staring at us like we are going to take anything, being young it is a problem with some shops.
- I like all the choice that the shops have, we always find something to buy and it’s always clean and good quality. Sometimes we all want the same item, so we do rock, paper, scissors.
- We talked about volunteering and two of the group have volunteered and found it so much fun and really felt it helped their mental health and confidence.
- Not enough talk at university to encourage us to volunteer, or schools generally – this is something that could perhaps be talked about in educational settings.
I’ve had so many wonderful experiences in this role, from meeting kind and caring volunteers to helping customers. I remember one gentleman who came in with his family on a busy Saturday. He wanted a suit for a wedding, so I took the time to find one that would fit him. He also bought shoes, a shirt and tie. A couple of hours later he returned to show me the outfit on. He was so happy, and I really appreciated his visit. I am lucky enough to have many stories of helping customers and I wouldn’t want to work anywhere else.