July News!

Sorry for the lack of blog posts recently! Summer has been busy with lots of new volunteers and our now-annual batch of French business interns arriving in the shop. 

Things are tickling along nicely at the moment, and we’re still receiving some great donations from our local residents — recent highlights include a stash of great art books on artists from Monet to Chagall to Hockney, hundreds of old Ordnance Survey maps, a bizarre set of thirty brogues painted blue for a fashion shoot, and a complete set of Buffy the Vampire Slayer DVDs. 

A quick bit of news: Time Out have listed us as the best charity shop in London for books/music! http://now-here-this.timeout.com/2012/07/14/bargain-hunt-londons-10-best-charity-shops/ This is a lovely thing as it’s a tribute to the quality of donations that we get from our local donors, and it also means we’re doing a good job of sorting and organising this stock to make the most out of it. Everyone wins!

A final piece — we’re planning a late-night shopping event for August 3 — we’ve been saving some designer goodies up for a few weeks to show off the incredible range of clothing we get. The plan is to open the shop from 6 til about 9, have some drinks and nibbles, and people can browse the shop in a more leisurely environ. Volunteer models will be wearing some clothes that you can buy off their backs, and we may or may not be in ‘negotiations’ about a vintage Yves Saint Laurent wool cape that we’re looking to auction off…keep checking here and our Twitter/Facebook pages for details!

Easter Opening Times

Friday 6 April: open

Saturday 7 April: open

Sunday 8 April: closed

Monday 9 April: closed

Tuesday 10 April: open

 

2000 Twitter followers, and more

 

 

We recently hit 2000 followers on Twitter. This is brill! As a reward, the magic follower, The Good Bad Movie Club at the Prince Charles Cinema (or the person behind its Twitter account) has been invited to take up an offer of a personalised donation service. What does this mean? The next time they bring a bag of donations into the shop, we’re going to track it from donation to sale. This includes signing them up to Gift Aid if they’re a taxpayer, thanking them, sorting the donation downstairs, deciding what we can/can’t sell (and explaining why we can’t if we can’t, and what happens to the items next), pricing the items, then placing them on the shop floor for sale. We’ll put them behind the till and if/when the items sell, we’ll try and find out what the customer buying them is going to use them for, or why they’ve bought them.

This mini-social anthropology experiment will manifest in a blogpost in a couple of weeks time, so keep your eyes here for an update!

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Other news n’ stuff while I’m here:

We’ve got another poetry night coming up in a few weeks: on Wednesday March 14 we’ll be hosting the launch of Tim Cockburn’s Salt Publishing pamphlet, Appearances in the Bentinck Hotel. We’re very excited about this because Tim is awesome, and we’ll have readings by Theo Best, Chrissy Williams and Matthew Gregory to help celebrate Tim’s book.

We had an unusual volunteer in our shop on Saturday – Daphne is in London til tomorrow from Singapore, on a challenge to live by social media for a week — she can’t buy food or pay for accommodation, and she stopped by our shop to help out and publicise her trip. She was a great help! Follow her adventures here.

New Year’s Resolutions

12 for 2012!

1. Attract more volunteers.

2. Reply more timely to volunteer applications.

3. Spend more time working with stock that isn’t my speciality (i.e. anything that’s not books).

4. Do Bookfest events again in July (sort of contrary to above).

5. Establish our poetry evening as a regular event.

6. Remember that for everyone who comes through the door of the shop, we are the face of Oxfam.

7. Further to (6): have patience with even the most ornery customers!

8. Make more connections with local businesses.

9. Make more connections with other Oxfam shops.

10. Work out some kind of way to get awesome stock from generous businesses (magazines/radio stations we’re looking atchoo).

11. Get more outsiders in to do nice window displays.

12. Help our existing volunteers get more involved in the decisions we make.

Christmas and New Year opening hours

The following hours are likely to be definite but if you’re thinking of coming in/bringing donations it’s best to ring in advance on the sketchy days! 0207 254 5318.

December 19-23: regular opening hours, 10-530.
December 24: open between 10am and 2pm.
December 25-27: closed.
December 28: likely to be open, but call to make sure.
December 29-31: regular opening hours, 10-530.
January 1-2: closed.
January 3: normal hours resume.

If you want to donate items to Oxfam and we’re not open, then you  can donate clothes to the donation bank at approximately 401 Kingsland Road, opposite the small post office.

If you’re thinking about bringing in donations when we’re open, then, firstly, thank you! It’s because of the awesome donations we get from our local community that our shop is so good.

Secondly, now that nice bit’s out the way — please think hard about what you give to us. At this time of year we get a LOT of stuff, and we also become unexpectedly short-handed at times when our volunteers get sick, or the weather stops them coming in, or they have childcare issues, or they go on holiday.

After New Year for the last two years we’ve had to stop accepting donations for a day or so, because we literally couldn’t store any more. This gets a bit frustrating because we have to turn people away who are probably giving us nice stuff — it’s even more frustrating when we finally sort through what we have downstairs and have to recycle/throw away 70% of what we get given (see here for more on this stat).

All we ask is that you apply this quick checklist to your donation:

  1. Have I seen the item for sale in Oxfam? (Furniture/electricals for example – we don’t sell them!)
  2. Is the item in saleable condition? (Shoes with broken heels, books with missing pages, etc.)
  3. Would I buy it from Oxfam? (Overwashed/faded clothes, crockery with food stains, etc.)
If the answer to any of this is no, then we probably don’t want it! It costs us time and money to get rid of things we can’t sell, and also depresses the heck out of our volunteers. If you have any questions about if we accept something, then phone us, send us an email at oxfamshopf8084@oxfam.org.uk, or ask me on Twitter. We’re very keen to have conversations about this, and we don’t want to come off sounding ungrateful, but we just want to make the shop as good as possible, and if people know a little more about what we can/can’t accept, then it would help ensure we don’t have to close the shop to donations. If you ask us, we might have some ideas of where you can take things we don’t accept, also!
Other things that we have had to stop accepting recently: VHS tapes (we have a few thousand waiting to be sold downstairs, and we need to stop taking them or we’ll just be throwing them in the rubbish), encylopedias (people aren’t buying them unfortunately), and old computer books/academic handbooks for institution-specific courses — no-one wants to buy these either, we’ve found!
Whew. Other than that, HAPPY CHRISTMAS!

CHRISTMAS

Check out our wicked Christmas window, installed by our elves this past weekend. We’ve got a ton of festive goodies to pile into the window over the next couple of weeks, so keep your eyes peeled. We’ve also got loads of perfect presents stacked behind the till, from neck pillows with in-built speakers to incense stocking fillers to a variety of ceramic animals.

We also have our usual range of awesome books, DVDs, CDs, homeware, clothing and accessories, all donated by the lovely people of Dalston, all of which would make great presents on a budget that are doubly ethical: 1) recycled/no-waste gifts that 2) help fund Oxfam’s work around the world. We’ve got Christmas cards and wrapping paper, as well as a selection of Unwrapped gifts if you want to make a donation to a specific Oxfam project.

My tactic for Christmas gifts for my parents is to get a suitably appropriate Unwrapped present (teach a teacher for my mum, a teacher, and olives for my dad, a keen cook) and then a 99p book or two! They don’t want me to buy them anything big so this is a nice way to satisfy my guilt and their wishes at the same time.

Two bits of Christmas news to close on: firstly, we’re going to open for a short period on Sunday to give you a chance to do that little bit of extra Christmas shopping — from 10 to 4 this coming Sunday, 11th December. Secondly — we’re going to reprise our Christmas mystery parcels from last year very shortly. These were very popular with our customers — we bundle up a bunch of strange little objects and books in shoeboxes, wrap them up for you, making an unusual gift for someone. We’ll probably do a flat rate of £5 for a box this year (we did different sizes last year but all the boxes we’ve found this year are the same size, more or less!). If you can resist opening the box yourself, whoever you give it to will get a brilliant surprise, and so will you! We’ll be roughly dividing the parcels into male/female, and while they would be fine to give to kids, we think they’re more suitable as gifts for adults. Keep an eye on our Twitter to find out when they go on sale. Hopefully by this weekend! Check out last year’s parcels below:

Poetry!

Hey do you like poetry? So do we!

Oxfam Dalston Presents: Poets! on November 17.

Building on the success of our last reading event during Bookfest (http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=227342237295319), we wanted to do another night to say thank you to our customers/donors and just have some lovely times in the expansive surroundings of our shop.

Confirmed readers on the night so far are:

Alex McDonald (http://selectedpoems.wordpress.com/)
Chrissy Williams (http://chrissywilliams.blogspot.com/)
Sophie Cameron (http://twitter.com/#!/trouserlesspoet)
Emily Berry (http://www.tall-lighthouse.co.uk/p_emilyberry.html)

We’ll be adding a couple more writers in due course as we sort them out.

The event is free entry but as before, we’re asking you to bring along one book to donate to the shop. Even the smallest donation makes a difference to Oxfam’s work throughout the world, and there’s the added fun of getting to see what books people have got sick of recently….

Hey and it’s five weeks before Christmas, you could come and do some early shopping too if you want!