There was a bumper crop of nominations and four winners of awards at the 2017 Hospice UK Retail Conference, held at the Chesford Grange Hotel in Warwickshire.
Phyllis Shepherd, Thames Hospice
Retail Volunteer of the Year
Phyllis Shepherd started volunteering in one of Thames Hospice’s shop shortly after her husband died, just over a year ago, giving up her free time every Saturday morning without fail.
Staff describe her as “an absolute treasure” and say her wonderful sense of humour and lively personality brings an influx of customers every Saturday who come in especially to see her, which is always reflected in the shops takings for the day.
She conscientiously will never leave the shop until the afternoon volunteers are all there to take over so the manager is never short on help and can take a well-deserved lunch break.
Phyllis is also known for her strong sense of community. In addition to her volunteering she also does readings in the village library and organises coffee mornings in the village hall, meaning local residents get to know her and follow her to the shop when she is on shift.
St Christopher's Hospice, London
Hospice Retail Team of the Year
During 2016 the dynamic team at St Christopher's Hospice in south London delivered more than any other year, generating more than £1m profit from its 19 shops and opening two new shops, including a new retail hub.
The retail hub has supported all the other shops with stock storage sorting and consumables and also houses the retail offices, which has freed up much needed space in the hospice without the added costs for office space.
This, in addition to improvements introduced for data capture and to simplify the gift aid process has enabled the trading team to “work smarter not harder”, keep costs down and increase profit productivity. It has also allowed more time for training volunteers and staff, promoting growth and stability in the team.
Martlets Hospice, Brighton
Specialist Retail Outlet of the Year
Martlets Hospice won the Specialist Retail Outlet of the Year award for its enterprising 'pop-up' shop in Brighton's shopping mall, Churchill Square, as part of the popular art sculpture trail campaign called 'Snowdogs by the Sea'. The stand sold Snowdog merchandise to support the art trail, including ceramic figurines, clothing, stationery and toys.
The pop-up shop was promoted online, via social media, and in the local press. It did a roaring trade from its first day, and during the eight weeks of opening it took £60,000, plus £900 in cash donations.
Each day one of two paid managers was supported by volunteers who worked half day shifts. Displays were well maintained and staff spared no efforts in helping customers to shop the range of goods and talk about the trail and the hospice at the same time.
Overall, across its three shops in Brighton and the pop-up shop the hospice sold £170,000 of Snowdogs merchandise, making a retail profit of around £70,000, far exceeding its conservative target of £20,000.
Antique Birthing Stool, St Ann's Hospice
Most Unusual Item donated to a hospice shop
The item was left outside the hospice shop in Edgeley, Greater Manchester, one of St Ann’s 14 shops across the city. Curious about its origins, the hospice did some research and discovered that birthing chairs replaced an even older practice of mothers in labour sitting on birth attendant’s laps. The stool ended up being sold to a local antiques dealer with the income coming back to the hospice.