ST. PAUL'S CHURCH SHOP - Ashton Road, Oldham
In the Beginning
The Reverend Carole Marsden and her family came up with the original idea of a Charity Shop and Drop In and the premises at 224 Ashton Road were opened on the 20th March 2001. The shop would provide good second hand clothing, bric-a-brac, books, records, furniture etc and would also provide an area where people could stop, have a drink and a chat and on occasions meet the vicar.
A grant of £850 was received from the 'New Deal for Communities' which covered the first few months rent and furnishings. The shop was one room with a small store room and a toilet. Many 'volunteers' were recruited to work in the shop, the basis for volunteering was that people committed themselves to work half a day each week or fortnight and that principle still applies today.
After a couple of years with the donations of goods mounting up at the back of the church, it was decided to see if the whole of the shop building could be acquired. We approached the landlord and agreed a rent for the premises as a whole. We were now able to store donations upstairs and regularly change the stock on sale. Further grants allowed us to purchase more display materials and clothing rails and the shop began to make a substantial annual profit. In 2008, again under a 'New Deal for Communities' scheme the premises received a major overhaul resulting in a new shop front with safety shutters, new windows all round, new gutters and drainpipes and the rear of the premises provided with a high wall complete with a security gate. An illuminated "DROP-IN & SHOPPIN" sign was also provided for the shop front.
For many people who live in the area, or move into the area from other countries the shop provides good quality goods at reasonable prices. Perhaps we could charge more per item but our customers know that they get good value for money, friendly service and a listening ear, thus ensuring that they return for more bargains. Unfortunately our drinks service had to be curtailed due to Health and Hygiene requirements.
Many people who were there at the beginning are still working with us, Barbara Allison and Sylvia Mason have the unenviable task of organising the monthly rota. Holidays are a nightmare in this respect but we do have 'reserve' volunteers. We also have people who are not directly connected with St Paul's who work regularly because they enjoy doing it. Terry Cooper takes care of the accounts by banking the shop's takings and preparing an annual accounts balance sheet. Jill and Colin Platt became the shop 'managers' when Carole left and they are ably assisted by about 25 to 30 people who give their time and experience.
The shop can be fun, just recently a petty thief was chased down the road by a member of staff demanding that he returned the stolen goods, he was quite large and she quite small but she got her way! We have one lady volunteer who is very persuasive and seems to manage to get all customers to buy something before leaving!
Do you want to volunteer?
Can you help? Of course we are always wanting help in the form of unpacking, sorting, hanging and pricing the clothes. We need people who can give time to serve in the shop either on the odd occasion or as a regular committment. If you feel you can offer help then please either have a word with someone in the shop or contact Jill or Colin Platt at church.
Benefits to the community
St. Paul's shop provides an important service to the local community. It reflects the church's aim to be seen to be working in the community. It also provides income to the church so that it can provide it's own community room for organisations and groups at a reasonable cost. At present we have the uniformed organisations i.e. the Cubs, Scouts, Brownies and Guides. We also have the Pop In group for older people and the room is available for other groups, for parties and one off meetings etc.
The present and the future
Nine years on and the shop is still going strong. It's strength lies in the fact that the volunteers are committed to making the shop work for the benefit of the community and the church. Without the help of so many people the shop would be unable to function. As for the future, as long as people continue to volunteer to help in the shop and our customers keep buying the shop's future is assured.
Donations of goods
If you have any unwanted clothing, bric-a-brac, books, curtains, bedding, shoes or any small electrical goods you would like to donate to the shop then please take them to the shop.
Please note that all electrical goods are tested for electrical safety before being released for sale and if at all possible checked to that they work properly.
Unfortunately the shop cannot accept any donations of television sets or video recorders.
Nigel Hopkinson for all the photographs
Colin Platt for the information relating to this page