For one reason or another, I have been away from the Oxfam shop quite a lot in the last couple of months and reluctant though I am to use the phrase ‘rack and ruin’, there was evidence that things weren’t good when I got back.
If I should say that I found a Sopranos box set on the children’s DVD shelf, I might not need to say any more, but I will.
Marigold Hotel on the action movies shelf, for example.
We have a relatively new rule which says that no hardback book should be in the shop priced at less than 2.99 – but lots have (in my absence) and OK it is only 50p but I am guessing that 50p could prove useful in feeding a Yemeni child.
As I have said before, we think of ourselves as a bookshop which happens to be a charity shop, not a charity shop which happens to sell a few books – and that means standards are kept high.
I am more ruthless than most of my fellow book sorters but in my defence, we get lots of comments from customers about how nice the shop is – and of course, we have a small preen.
So, I have spent my last few shifts getting it back in order. Pulling brown-paged books off the shelves, persuading a volunteer’s granddaughter to put all the children’s books in alphabetical order, assigning culling and re-stocking of the different categories to different volunteers and so on.
And yes, of course it looks better.
Anyway enough of a rant.
Here are a few good things.
One regular came in looking for a DVD of French Connection and I knew we didn’t have it and in fact I can’t remember ever seeing it.
So, I went on the net and found one for sale for 50p with no charge for postage. I bought it and sold it to him (there was French Connection II as well) for £4.99 and he was so delighted to came in to say so, several times.
A colleague came up with the idea of doing a shelf of books that would be good as secret santa presents or stocking fillers – she is new and enthusiastic and coming up with very good ideas.
So, we sent for recycling the shelf of ‘self-help and pregnancy care’ books mainly on the grounds that is the eight years I have worked there, I haven’t sold one of those.
And we relegated ‘sport’ on the grounds there are only so many copies of Alex Ferguson and Bradly Wiggins’ autobiographies a shop needs.
Now we have space to sell small humorous books which we never otherwise sell and we have quite a collection of those re-done Ladybird books which were so popular last year and rather to my surprise still seem to be around this year.
Along with Five Do Brexit and endless books on quotations from grumpy old people.
And, since the end of August, I have been putting aside books that are in such pristine state they could be given as a Christmas gift without the recipient ever knowing they are second hand.
We have teetering piles of crates of these books and all of them need up-pricing which is a technical term meaning you can charge more for them than usual because a) they are in great condition and b) it is Christmas spending.
The issue is, when to put them out.
If you go too early, you have nothing left for the last minute buyers but if you go too late, you might get left with them and they won’t sell in January.
If I had a memory, I would recall what we did last year, and when – but I don’t. This year I am going to make a note of what we have, what we do and how it goes down.
Of course I will write that down and put it somewhere safe and it won’t be seen again.
That is the way with our shop – there are things that can be unearthed and have been there, under a shelf, in the back of a cupboard which have been around longer than I have.
On the other hand, you can put something down for a moment and it has disappeared.
That happened with the Yemeni maps.
Some kind soul had donated a number of military maps of Yemen. I was not sure the would have great re-sale value in Petersfield but kept them anyway.
One of our volunteers is an installation artist and she saw them and wanted to use them in some artwork.
( Yes, strange though this may sound, it is true.)
She rang into the shop when I was there and asked me if I knew what had happened to them.
I had left them in a box by the lift but of course they weren’t there and I spent a good hour looking for them.
It turned out the manager had found them, and hidden them, to keep them safe.
I gave both of them a stern talking to about leaving messages in the message book ( which most people never read or use) so that I could have save myself an hour.
Still it will be very interesting to see how she make an art installation in Petersfield’s square out of Yemeni maps.
Finally, you will be please to hear, in this list of Oxfam doings, I changed the table display this morning.
We always do something for Remembrance Day and usually the shop is knee deep in military history and copies of Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon but this year we aren’t.
I have scraped together enough books for the table and of course it only has to last until Saturday but as I left the shop, I explained to the volunteer on the till, to try and not sell to many of them too quickly.