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The Charity shop that's not a charity shop.

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Mrs_HuggettMrs_Huggett Forumite
373 posts
Looking for opinions on an idea I had during one of my productive bouts of insomnia! I am very proactive when it comes to community issues and live in an area that has lots of groups who do great work with very little help from grants and funding etc, they range from community gardening to food banks and community kitchens etc etc. We are all supportive of one another and there are local business owners who offer help as and when they can, so all good! It's likely that very soon our council will be helping local start ups with rent free shops etc for a year or so, they did this recently and it was successful. My idea is to open a shop selling donated goods at affordable prices (so in essence a charity shop type set up) but to pay myself and staff a proper living wage, and pay the running costs. the next part is the groovy bit though! Every two months local community groups are invited to put a bid in for the money we have accrued as profit and there would be a forum of local business owners and ordinary Joe's who would have a vote on who would receive the money or monies for that period. Groups or projects affiliated to political parties or religious organizations would not be able to apply, but local registered small charities would if they were running a project. We have people in our area who do wonderful work and get no help from the council or any other body so they would be the priority. Those sitting on the forum would be able to scrutinize yearly accounts. And I am not interested in opening a CIC as I would like to keep control of the management of the business. In case you are wondering, no I don't want to get rich on this, and yes I see it as a really good way to help my wonderful community carry on doing what they do. I can give a couple or three people work when they really really need help and could do this standing on their heads! Do you think it is a good idea? What pitfalls can you see? Thanks for any constructive opinions in advance!:A
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  • edited 15 January 2020 at 5:08PM
    Mistral001Mistral001 Forumite
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    edited 15 January 2020 at 5:08PM
    Looking for opinions on an idea I had during one of my productive bouts of insomnia! I am very proactive when it comes to community issues and live in an area that has lots of groups who do great work with very little help from grants and funding etc, they range from community gardening to food banks and community kitchens etc etc. We are all supportive of one another and there are local business owners who offer help as and when they can, so all good! It's likely that very soon our council will be helping local start ups with rent free shops etc for a year or so, they did this recently and it was successful. My idea is to open a shop selling donated goods at affordable prices (so in essence a charity shop type set up) but to pay myself and staff a proper living wage, and pay the running costs. the next part is the groovy bit though! Every two months local community groups are invited to put a bid in for the money we have accrued as profit and there would be a forum of local business owners and ordinary Joe's who would have a vote on who would receive the money or monies for that period. Groups or projects affiliated to political parties or religious organizations would not be able to apply, but local registered small charities would if they were running a project. We have people in our area who do wonderful work and get no help from the council or any other body so they would be the priority. Those sitting on the forum would be able to scrutinize yearly accounts. And I am not interested in opening a CIC as I would like to keep control of the management of the business. In case you are wondering, no I don't want to get rich on this, and yes I see it as a really good way to help my wonderful community carry on doing what they do. I can give a couple or three people work when they really really need help and could do this standing on their heads! Do you think it is a good idea? What pitfalls can you see? Thanks for any constructive opinions in advance!:A

    This is just not going to wash with people. You will be acting like a really big charity or government department giving out grants. But you are far from that.
  • Paul_DNAPPaul_DNAP Forumite
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    I too think making them come to a panel and beg for the money isn't particularly good optics, and a touch demeaning for them - and absolutely forget the request to scrutinise their accounts, do you want to help or do you want to just add to their administrative burden?


    It would be better if your shop's money went into a pot and then you met with your people and decided amongst yourselves who in your community you'd support with this month's profits and then just wander over and gave them the cheque out of the blue.
    (Although I could be wrong, I often am.)
  • Thanks for the answers thus far, the community volunteers wouldn't have to come to a panel and beg for money they would just have an informal meeting with me or another shop co worker and tell us what they want to do and how much they need, we would get it down on paper together and then the panel would decide what would be the best use for that period, for instance if our community kitchen would like to do a Children's party and need £150 and the lady that organises litter picking needs new gloves and pickers at a cost of £60 we could pay for both of those and the remaining profit goes into the next period to be used, and gets added to what is available then, maybe another group will ask for picnic benches for their guerrilla garden they've created, and a youth club needs to buy tickets to a play for their members, so that period would see more being spent, a moveable feast if you will! I also would like to clarify that this panel would be able to scrutinize the SHOPS accounts each year to make sure that everything is above board and that any profit after all costs is going to the community groups in our area. NOT the accounts of the community groups ( I know of at least 4 here that don't even have funding from anywhere they just rely on people helping out from their own pockets) Hope that clarifies things a bit!
  • greyteam1959greyteam1959 Forumite
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    Paragraphs would make your post a whole lot easier to read & therefore respond to.
  • Thanks greyteam19 Anything else you could advise on?
  • greyteam1959greyteam1959 Forumite
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    Thanks greyteam19 Anything else you could advise on?

    Greyteam1959............
  • lincroft1710lincroft1710 Forumite
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    Even with donated goods how much profit would you make after paying wages, rent, rates, utilities etc?
  • pramsay13pramsay13 Forumite
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    I think it's a great idea and thought of something similar.

    Your main issue is a shop like this just isn't that profitable and you will be lucky to pay one salary never mind a few, even with low or zero rent from the council.

    Produce a business plan and cost it properly and see just how many donated shirts you will need to sell to pay 1, 2 , 3 staff members.

    Find out what other costs there are, e.g. I imagine waste licence as you will have to dump anything that can't be sold on.

    Will people trust that you will not run off with their money? I think you should consider becoming a charity or CIC again as that would allay people's fears.
  • Thank you lincroft1710 and pramsay13 there are things to consider aren't there? Greyteam, I'm not sure what your problem is?
  • comeandgocomeandgo Forumite
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    If you are selling second hand items and expecting a wage yourself, and pay staff and running costs I can't see you selling enough to make any profit. Where will you get the money to start? What do you do if you make losses?
    The bit that really sticks with me is the fact that you would expect a wage, it just seems a bit like jobs for the boys.
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