I think I may have mentioned that our Oxfam shop has gone from being in the doldrums and not doing very well at all, to being classed as ‘outstanding.’
(I may have to mention this once or twice again – we are very pleased with ourselves.)
Previously we had an area manager who had, shall we say, very definite views on how things should be done and was very definite about the absolute need to do them that way.
Then we had her replacement who said more along the lines of ‘ don’t know if that idea will work, but give it a go and see.’
Now our sales are up by 17% etc etc.
Anyone with a management development background or just a smidgen of common sense will know that this is not rocket science and a dictatorial management style is only of any use in very limited circumstances.
Should any Army officers be reading, I am sure they could fill us in on when that style is not only advisable but necessary – but an Oxfam bookshop is rarely going to fall into any of his/her categories.
But I didn’t mean to go into a long essay about management styles, I wanted to mention some of the satisfaction you get when you work in the shop.
I was upstairs the other day and the intercom phone buzzed and a colleague said there was a man in the shop looking for any books on Nordic history.
Not something we get a lot of. However, I found a book written in Danish on Nordic gold hordes which I had put to one side because the pictures were lovely and I thought we might be able to sell it in a display on art books.
I went downstairs and found a young man looking like as horny-handed son of toil who looked at the book doubtfully – as well he might.
“ Mmm,” he said, “not quite what I was looking for.”
I asked him to tell me what he wanted in some more detail and then we would take his number and if I can across anything more useful, I would call him.
“Runes,” he said. He told me he was carving runes and wanted some images to copy and use as research.
So, I went back upstairs to look on the shelves where we put ‘esoteric’ – a term which covers anything from ghost stories and angels-spoke-to-me books to Australian ley lines. (Actually had he wanted any of those books, we had copies.)
The trouble was that a landslide of donated books needing gift aiding were in the way, so several hundreweight of books had to be shifted to get to the shelf and no, there was nothing on runes.
I went to head back downstairs when the colleague who had helped me shift the books said, “Wait!”
And of course, dear reader, there it was – a small book with detailed drawings and picture of runes.
The book cost the customer £2.49 but it gave us all a lot of satisfaction.