Sunday 18 March 2018

Changing clientele at Oxfam shop

' WE'RE ticking over, but it could be better,' said Mavis Hynes, co-manager of Oxfam on Wexford's Main Street.

Mavis, co-manager with Adam Gill, described business as 'steady', but has noticed many changes during recessionary times.

One of these is that the quality of a lot of items, such as clothes, is not as good as it once was. 'People are hanging onto their clothes for longer,' said Mavis.

She has also noticed that their clientele has changed, with people who would never have gone into a shop like Oxfam before economic hard times hit the country at large now coming in.

However, that has not led to an increase in customers because, as Mavis points out, 'we've lost a lot of people who simply can't afford to buy anything now - people are hardpressed to pay their mortgage, let alone buy clothes'.

The busy shop relies on a team of 30 volunteers and is open from 9.30 a.m. to 5.30 p.m. six days a week.

However, Mavis and her busy bunch at the back of the shop reckon that up to 80 per cent of a charity shop's work is done behind the scenes, on tasks like sorting, washing, ironing and pricing, among countless other tasks.

In terms of stock, Mavis said 'we are trying to keep the standards high'.

' We're desperate for bric-a-brac, while we could do with more jewellery and good quality clothes too,' said Mavis.

Bric-a-brac is particularly popular, with all sorts of items, from ornaments to plates, flying out the door. ' We can't keep it in the shop,' she said.

Books also do a strong trade, with Oxfam grateful to the council workers at the Holmestown waste and recycling facility in Barntown, where the books, CDs and other items of use left there are given to the Wexford shop.

Oxfam has been in Wexford for 20 years and has a great location for footfall, but Mavis pointed out that the pedestrianisation of the Main Street was a setback as they take their donations at the shop itself, but people can't drive to the door anymore.

She said that the closest people can get is the Bull Ring or Charlotte Street and they have to carry whatever they have from there to Oxfam. She said that while people are very good and many do this, others may be choosing ' handier' drop off options offered by other charities in Wexford.

Proving that you never really know what will come in the door, the shop was recently given a pair of diamond ear rings by a charitable local donor, to support the charity's work in Pakistan. After they were valued they sold for €180, a princely sum for any charity shop.

Wexford's Oxfam is constantly looking at ways to generate business, with resourcefulness a key asset of any charity shop. During the upcoming Opera Festival they will be doing a special promotion on music and are accepting all donations that may aid this idea.

One of their star attractions will be a complete set of Gramophone magazine from 1954, which were recently donated to the shop. The shop will also have a piano and are looking for players to come along and create a musical atmosphere in the shop during the festival!

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