We’ve had an influx of donations – Update from our Furniture Store

News and Blog

Lukas Boutholeau is the Assistant Manager at our Furniture Store and warehouse. Here, he shares an update on how our warehouse has made changes to keep customers safe, and what it’s been like adjusting to this ‘new’ normal.

“Returning to work from furlough has certainly been strange. I returned to work on 1 June after two months on furlough, and it’s been an adjustment – I’ve noticed the world as a whole is becoming (what seems to be!) busier than it ever was.

Things have changed for us quite a bit

We’ve had to move the entirety of our Warehousing operation out of Denvale Trade Park and it now resides over at the Rowfant Business Centre. Customer numbers are limited into the shop, but the number of customers we’ve had visiting is similar to what it was pre-pandemic.

Donors in our community are able to drop off their bags/boxes at our Furniture Store still

We set up tables for contact-free delivery, and with Gary’s connections with Tesco, he managed to get cages and potato bins. This has helped us create a mobile quarantine station that we can place all donated bags/boxes into. These are then transported where we need them to go, without us having to touch anything that’s been brought into us, and allows us to quarantine items whilst still being able to take in donations.

Prior to the Furniture Store re-opening, we opened for donations only

Being the first local charity to open up for donations after lockdown, we were donated somewhere in the realm of 500 plus bags within a few days! These were all quarantined for 72 hours, so it was difficult to keep on top of the amount of donations we were receiving. Although we were really grateful for people’s generosity, we had to close the donation station again shortly after we opened so we could clear the influx of donations we received. It was really nice to get some positive early feedback though, about how organised people thought our set up was, and how safe they felt.

Today, we’re able to take donations a couple of days a week usually

Unfortunately this has led to a lot of frustration with donors who want to clear their stuff out if we aren’t able to take their donations from them that particular day. Even on the days that we’re able to take donations we usually fill up by mid-morning/lunchtime, so we do have to ask people to visit another day. Like all our shops, we’re asking donors to call ahead to avoid disappointment and wasted journeys.

We’ve been affected by the weather recently

In the recent hot weather we saw very, very few customers, and due to the mandated face coverings, it’s very inconsistent at the moment with how many people we have visiting and how much stock we have. Some weeks we’re close to running out of furniture to sell, and other weeks we’re full to the brim.

Things like puzzles and board games have become incredibly popular and they’ve been selling really well for us. So much so that Gary made a point of driving round every shop during lockdown to clear out their puzzles. Sometimes, puzzles were selling daily for £20 a go!

Thankfully, we’ve had many of our volunteers back

And we have lots of people volunteering for us over at Rowfant. We’ve even had a few extra volunteers looking to fill their time whilst on furlough from their full-time jobs.”

To find your nearest St Catherine’s shop or to call ahead to see if your nearest shop currently has space for donations please click here