A high street charity shop is bucking the national downward sales trend with a bumper January and raft of international sales.
Stock has been flying off the shelves at the St T’s pop-up charity shop on High Row, Darlington, after volunteers and staff slashed the prices of all bric-a-brac and framed pictures by 50 per cent.
Sales have also been boosted by visitors from countries as far afield as America and Iran who have left lists with staff of items they want to export home.
“It’s been an extremely busy start to the year,” said shop manager Rose Wills. “We have had a steady flow of customers who have loved the shop, saying how bright, clean and even how posh it is; in fact many of them don’t realise that it is a charity shop.
“You never know what we are going to get in stock. One American visitor has asked us to look out for china tea sets, which he wants to take back to the USA, and an Iranian lady has left a long list of items she is looking for, including crystal glasses, lamps, dressing table, stools and even a fish tank.”
The pop up store opened in November last year in the former Mountain Warehouse shop.
All sales go towards helping fund St Teresa’s Hospice, Woodland Road, Darlington, which provides free care and support for residents of the borough, South Durham and North Yorkshire, who are affected by life-limiting illness.
“St Teresa’s needs to raise in excess of £3m each year to run its hospice services so every donation and sale is greatly appreciated,” added Rose.
“We recently sold some items of painted furniture to a London-based film company which was making a film in the region. After they completed filming they re-donated the items back to shop and those items have now been re-sold, which is great for the charity.
“Our up-scaled painted furniture is one of our best sellers. Items fly out of the shop and we even have people asking if our volunteers, who refurbish the items, can take commissions to renovate their existing pieces of furniture, which we would love to do in the future if we can attract more volunteers.”
The store is one of 11 St T’s charity shops across the region selling everything from clothes, bric-a-brac, furniture and jewellery to office equipment, babywear, charity calendars and one-of-a-kind finds.
“One of the best parts of this job is seeing some of the more unusual donations people make,” added Rose.
“We have recently been given an antique milliners block, which would make a great decorative piece, and a Victorian copper bedpan, which would look great on someone’s wall.
“It really is a fabulous shop with stock changing everyday; you just never know what we might have in store.”