Extolling the virtues of steaming

Did you know that at St Mary’s Hospice shops we steam clean all of the clothes before they are put out into the shop, even new with tags garments? This means that they are firstly wrinkle free (though sometimes the linen is a challenge!…ponders why there is always a rail full of linen items when it is my turn to steam… ) but more importantly in these very-hygiene conscious times, clothes are freshened by the steam, and it can help to reduce any bacteria lurking. We also steam clean bedding , fabric and anything else that can be steamed without ruining it.

Ok so NOBODY wants to think about “nasties” on our clothes, but by steaming at least we can rest assured that they are as fresh as can be without physically laundering everything. As an aside, we don’t wash the clothes as we don’t have a machine in any of the shops BUT if an item is worth the extra effort then our managers have been known to take them home and put through the wash there…..Giggles at other-halves face when you bring bin bags full of washing home and they look aghast thinking the bags are your ACTUAL purchases from that day… (Not that I would EVER buy that much I totally would )

As an extra step in our virus-busting measures we are going to quarantine all donations for 72 hours to make sure there are no germs on them , before we touch them. We will wash bric-a-brac in soap and water , and anything that can’t be washed will be anti-bac wiped wherever possible i.e book covers .

If you have chance to wash donated clothes before you bring them then we appreciate that very much , oh yes we do , donation-happiness is a bag that wafts that freshly laundered scent. And it makes the back room smell nice when it is steamed. On that subject we are proud that our charity shops don’t smell like charity shops. Believe me, our volunteers have noses like fine-tuned bloodhounds and can sniff out any pongs at twenty paces. That’s two metres , in social distancing , right? (it is actual 15.24 metres , yep I googled it , but y’know, poetic license and all that).

We will be spring cleaning our shops before they reopen, and once we are open all surfaces will be regularly sanitised. We will be as clean and shiny as a new pin. Delightfully named “sneeze screens” are being installed around the till areas in each shop, and hand sanitiser units are near the door for customers to use on entry and exit. We will also have social distancing reminders and a measured area to queue if we are busy. Who am I kidding of COURSE we will be busy- nobody has had their guilt-free retail therapy in MONTHS!

As a final thought, we will do everything in our power to keep our shops as safe as is possible, we have risk assessments coming out of our ears. We want you to feel confident that you can browse, donate or volunteer in an environment where it is safe to do so.

We look forward very much to letting you all loose amongst the lovely things soon. N.B in a responsible and socially distanced manner of course 🙂

From declutter to donation without leaving the house !


Did you know that by sending your unwanted books, games , CDs and DVDs to Ziffit you can make a donation directly to St Mary’s Hospice?
Whoever said charity begins at home was right- this is a simple way to fundraise for us and still stay at home and stay safe by turning decluttering into donations.

Ziffit is a company we use to raise funds from these items during normal trading. While we all wait for the shops to reopen you can help us by sending items directly to them and choosing to donate the amount straight to us. They have partnered with Virgin Money giving to provide a new and easy way to support our hospice and with free collection by courier from your door for boxes over 5kg in weight you don’t even need to leave the house.

Those pennies really do make pounds and 100% of the trade value comes to us so if you have been spring cleaning whilst at home and would like to give it a try then please click on the link click here to go to Ziffit (this will open a new tab).

You can even use their app on your smartphone .

In just 4 steps you can go from clutter to cash:

  1. Once you have created your account on the Ziffit site enter the barcodes to get the prices for your items.

2. Once you have added your items to the basket hit the green “Complete Trade button”.

The next screen you see asks what you would like to do with the proceeds – choose ” Donation”

3. Into the charity search bar type “St Mary’s Hospice” . Don’t forget the apostrophe!

4. Choose St Mary’s Hospice from the search results. This is confirmed on the next screen , where you can also add gift aid.

Now you can continue through the Ziffit screens to arrange collection of your parcel 🙂

Sit back and congratulate yourself with a big THANK YOU from us!

It’s not Goodbye, it’s see you later….

Hi to everyone, I hope you are all keeping safe and well in these unprecedented times?

On Monday this week ( which now seems eons ago is it really only Thursday?) the decision was made to close all of our shops until it is possible to trade again safely . Those who can work from home are to do so.

Although the Hospice is an essential service, as a non-essential category of shops we needed to close our doors.

This has felt so strange, to have to cease doing what is a dedicated passion, mothball our shops and lock up and walk away. I think we all feel that our shops are our babies.

Pictured above is the drawer where all of my volunteer’s lanyards are all parked up. I will be so happy to see them all back in the shop.

Suddenly plans for upcoming window display , rotas and of course seeing our customers and volunteers daily , plus the routine of banking , sorting donations and all of the “normal” everyday tasks have stopped.

We feel lost , sad for those who are poorly, worried and anxious about how the months ahead will pan out.

But we are busy bees while working from home , planning and preparing for the wonderful moment when we flip the CLOSED sign to OPEN again.

We are busy studying relevant courses and qualifications, and mandatory training .

Our fab Barrow Warehouse staff are working with the local community supporting the Barrow Hub delivering essential supplies to those who are self isolating.

We are keeping positive and adjusting to our new at home roles. This is my set up today , bit of a change from sorting bags of donations!

With the staying at home coinciding with the first really nice spell of weather it has been an excellent opportunity to crack on with all the jobs that usually get left due to lack of time.

Whilst you are self-isolating are you planning a spring clean, sorting all those cupboards and wardrobes that have been on the “To Do” list for ages?

Please think of us if you are although we cannot accept any donations currently .

Please, please do not leave anything outside the shops as there is nobody there to take them indoors .

We will be doubly delighted to receive them when we are back to business. If you could store them safely til then we’d be grateful , we’ll need your support then more than ever.

Also while we are staying home a lot of our daily habits, treats and indulgencies are scuppered. An idea mentioned on the TV was that if you regularly buy an everyday item , say a cup of coffee, but are unable to at the moment would you consider donating that amount to the Hospice please? Of course we appreciate these are worrying times financially for many , but as my Mum use to say “Pennies make Pounds”

Follow the link below to the Donate on our main St Mary’s Hospice website https://www.stmaryshospice.org.uk/donation/make-a-donation/

I will sign off today by sharing the video clip of our C.E.O Val giving a short interview on North West Tonight on 23rd March 2020 speaking about how the virus is affecting the Hospice.

Apologies in advance for the quality , I recorded it straight from the TV , click the link below to watch on Facebook


Keep Safe and we will see you later x

How you can help our shops and it won’t cost you a penny!

If you are a Facebook fan then while you are scrolling and browsing you can help our shops without spending a penny !

Before we go any further ..

Disclaimer: Obviously I do NOT want to discourage you from spending in our shops ,no not AT all , we have ALL THE NICE THINGS .

This is EXTRA you can do in between bouts of guilt -free retail therapy shopping for all the wonderful things you didn’t yet know you needed , ~beckons~ come into the shops……………..

Now we have cleared that up , PHEW.

Not alot of people are aware that as they are idly wandering in the vast depths of Facebook-land they are helping business pages as they go.

Your “likes”on our posts and the comments that you leave for us, and (virtual cheer) the SHARES are so helpful, it means that facebook will show our content to more people. In fact the more you do, the more they show it.

Happy Days.

In a very simplistic way that is how the Facebook Algorithm machine rolls, the more people engage ,the more other people get to see it.

A Facebook “Scream if you want to go faster ?”

When you next visit our page if you like what you see then please give us a “like” on a post and absolutely please DO leave us a comment .

We love to engage in conversation with you , ask us any questions you may have, tag a friend who may be interested. You can also Bagsy things if it is an item for sale post.

Let’s get a convo going! If you would like to share with your friends then that is very much appreciated and means that many more folk will see our posts.

Facebook has a setting called SEE FIRST, it means that our posts will show up at the top of your newsfeed.

Tick that setting and you never miss out on items for sale again that somebody else snaffled before you even saw them (exhibit A: all the posh cushions we have ever sold)

Lastly- a quick word about Hiding. Not hide and seek, bit less fun than that. Without wishing to sound like the bringer of DOOM , if you “hide” a post then Facebook says, “OOPS , that was unpopular, show it to less people”.

Or it would if it was not just a computer programme.

It sadly doesn’t just mean that you have “read it , no need to see again , thanks Facebook”

More a one way trip for that post to Outer Siberia.


Gotta say I “hide ” things now and again, mostly upsetting topics that I know I couldn’t unsee if I looked.

We will never post stuff like that – please don’t hide us away!

Thank you for reading – looking forward to being bowled over by a virtual barrage of likes and comments 😀


You can find us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/retailatstmaryshospice

We are also on Instagram http://www.instagram.com/stmaryshospiceshops

Let’s fill our charity shop window with genuine sentiment for Valentine’s Day!

St Marys Hospice Grange -Over-Sands shop

Happy Valentine’s Day?

Are you going to buy the (especially price-inflated for Valentine’s day) red roses, or the giant card – something cleverly marketed to persuade you to spend more £’s to prove your love for somebody?
It seems that Valentine’s Day is more and more materialistic and commercialised. It’s about what you buy for someone to show your feelings , rather than what you feel. When the Beatles sang “Money can’t buy me love” they didn’t work in a card shop or florist at the begining of February !

It can be a sad day for those who have lost somebody dear to them, a poignant reminder that they are no longer there to exchange cards with.

As we are a charity shop we have no Valentine’s day stock to sell (unless of course any is donated ) sooooooooooooo we thought that filling our shop window with genuine sentiment would be a great idea .

One of our hashtags is #sharingthelove and what better way to share it than a window full of dedicated hearts.


The window is full of hand drawn hearts and Forget-me -nots. For a donation you can choose the names you would like to see written up. Whether for family members, friends or in remembrance we thought it was a NICE THING.

The world needs more NICE THINGS.

Hand drawn hearts and Forget-me-Nots

To help fill our window with love and to dedicate a heart contact Grange-Over-Sands shop on 015395 32735

Or find us on social media at Instagram https://www.instagram.com/stmaryshospiceshops/

or Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/retailatstmaryshospice/

Carry on #sharingthelove !












Where Has August Gone?

My goodness…where has August gone?

This has been such a busy month…I can’t believe it is almost September!

At the start of August we were looking forward to the start of our Make Do and Mend project…just over 4 weeks later and we’re celebrating the sale of our first piece of upcycled furniture…it sold within 4 hours of hitting the shop floor…how awesome is that?

I’m not surprised really…the table was a real beauty!

We have 2 further items out for sale…both very different.

If your taste is for the individualistic…something you will not find anywhere else then this cute set of drawers might be to your taste. Stripping back the thick white paint we uncovered amazing things…beautiful old wood complimented by strikingly colourful paint…it seemed wrong to take it all off! It’s so tactile…I keep catching myself running my hands along the top each time I pass…I can’t resist!


Many hours of hard work…love and elbow grease have gone into this table but I think you’ll agree it’s worth it…don’t we all deserve a bit of pampering when we’re feeling a bit run down? We’ll have a stampede of neglected tables queuing at the door if word gets out…all hoping for a polish…a non-surgical face lift for furniture!


5 Amazing Things About August!

What a wonderful month August is…what does it conjure up for you?

For me it’s long walks…warm rain…and that smell you get at the sea shore, so hard to describe…salty…comforting…full of dreams…it rolls in on the waves and catches you unawares. I love that smell…I could stand there forever enveloped in a growing sense of well-being as the smell surrounds me…so important in today’s busy world…a place to chill…to just be.

The retail team have so much going on in August…a big month…a busy month…a month full of new ventures and future successes! New stock in the Gift Shop…Christmas cards in the shops…new projects to get involved with…August suddenly seems a very important month and then I start wondering…has August always been such a standout month or is it just us?

So thanks to the wonders of the internet I did a little research and here’s five amazing facts I discovered;

  1. 1st August 1774,  Joseph Priestley discovered oxygen.
  2. 20th August 1911, The first telegram is sent around the world.
  3. 27th August 1955, The first edition of the Guinness Book of records is published.
  4. 31st August 1897, Thomas Edison secures a patent for his kinetograph.
  5. 1st August 2018, first session of St Mary’s Hospice Make Do and Mend Workshop

Amazing fact No. 5 is of course the one we’re most excited about…the first session of St Mary’s Hospice Make Do and Mend Workshop.

Our Make, Do and Mend Workshop provides a chance for bereaved men and women, those caring for their partner or loved one or those living with their own life-shortening illness to come together to share experiences, ideas and enthusiasm, and ultimately, to help each other through loss.

We’ve been working hard to have our workshop ready to welcome the first group and I think you’d agree it’s looking pretty good…there’s plenty of space to work and lots of projects to choose from…won’t be long now!

We’ll bring you regular updates on our Make Do and Mend projects but in the meantime if you’d like to find out more please visithttp://www.stmaryshospice.org.uk/…/make-do-and-mend-to-star…

Shop Chatter has been pretty silent lately…

What can I say…I’m sorry, it’s not you…it’s me…I’ve been distracted lately, I didn’t mean to neglect you!

I want to make this work…I think we’ve got something good going on…something really special…I’m in it for the long term…I promise.


Shop Chatter definitely deserves a little TLC after the weeks of neglect…but don’t worry we’re going to look after it…give it lots of love and attention…we have sOOoooooo much to catch up on!

I can’t wait to get going again…lot’s of great stuff to tell you about….I don’t know where to start…but start I will! Exciting!!!

excited face

Why Do People Donate To Charity Shops?

It’s an interesting question and I think for 99% of the donations we think we know the answer…

  • They want to support the charity because they have experienced the wonderful work they do.
  • They like to support charities in general and like the thought of their unwanted items having a useful life elsewhere.
  • They recognise that donating unwanted items to charity is a great thing to do for the planet…recycle rather than landfill.

I’m sure there are many more great reasons why people donate and we appreciate the items we get what ever the reason…with one exception…

When items are left on our doorstep out of hours!

7.45am Monday morning this is what greets me…a bag of clothes left (sometime between 4.30pm Saturday and 7.45am Monday). The bag has been torn open and clothes are strewn everywhere!

Somebody may have left these with the best intentions…but we do have signs up asking people not to leave donations when the shop is closed…the only thing I can do with these is put them in the bin.

It’s very frustrating…it makes our shop and quite often the surrounding area look awful…it becomes a health risk for staff and volunteers…how long has it been there…how many dogs have relieved themselves there…is there anything else in there, broken items, sharps…would you want to start your working day clearing this up?

Saturday afternoon I closed the shop at 4pm, popped upstairs for 5 minutes when I came down someone had dumped a broken computer in the doorway!

I couldn’t sell this even if it was working…St Mary’s Hospice will have to pay to dispose of it correctly!

You know…we get some amazing donations into our shops that help raise much needed funds for our wonderful hospice…and I wouldn’t want to alienate any genuine donators…but maybe some people just aren’t aware that when they choose to dump goods on our doorstep they aren’t helping a good cause…in some cases they are actually costing it money!

if you have items you would like to donate but can’t make it when the shop is open…please get in touch by phone or Facebook and we can collect…make sure your donation is making a difference in a good way!

Challenge Accepted..

Here in Barrow shop we like a bit of healthy competition, we’re always setting ourselves little in-shop targets to try and beat…it keeps us motivated and helps us raise as much money as possible for the hospice, not to mention adding a little fun to the day!

We’re always pushing ourselves…to sell more pound items…to increase eBay listing…to recruit more volunteers…the team just doesn’t stop!

Our bravest and toughest challenge so far involves Kite Books…this is a system we use that allows us to sell items through Amazon…books, DVD’s, CD’s and more recently new toys, games and jigsaws.

Six months ago we had 250 items listed online using this system…we were bringing in a decent enough income from it but it was clear there was scope for more…I made a commitment then (in my head only at this time for obvious reasons!) that in 12 months time St Mary’s Hospice would have 1000 items listed for sale…my reasoning being…more items listed…more choice for customers…more sales for the hospice!

Asking for that kind of an increase is not easy…let’s face it, was it even realistic? I didn’t really know, but it was a challenge I wanted the team to try and achieve…but we couldn’t do it alone. We needed every shop to play their part! Yes, if you visit Barrow shop you will see boxes and boxes of online items…but that doesn’t give you the full picture…they didn’t necessarily start out here.

All St Mary’s shops contribute stock to the online selling forums…we have volunteers everywhere, armed with scanners eager to find items to be listed…we have drivers ferrying the online stock to Barrow shop for storing, picking, packing and posting once sold…it’s a real team effort…a Retail Team Effort (from this point forward it shall be known as an RTE).

There’s no stopping an RTE…the momentum just keeps on building until we reach our goal…it’s both scary and beautiful to watch!

I could wax lyrical for ever about the awesomeness of an RTE…but that’s kind of taking me away from the point I’m trying to make…so let me focus!

It’s six months since I made that private challenge…it became a Barrow challenge very soon after and then a wider retail challenge…we have all worked so hard on making this achievable and do you know what…we’re pretty close already…with six months gone we have gone from 250 items to 754 items listed…that’s not a bad effort is it?

I’m so proud of everyone involved…who instead of doubting or complaining, just rolled up their proverbial sleeves and showed up to help…a true RTE!

With 6 months left I thought I would share our challenge with you…you might want to help…either by volunteering your time or by donating goods…whatever you decide is great 🙂

Interested in volunteering contact your local St Mary’s Hospice shop…check out our website, http://www.stmaryshospice.org.uk or leave a message on our Facebook page, Retail at St Mary’s Hospice.

If you would like to donate goods that could possibly be sold on line (subject to value when scanned) you can take them to any of our shops or have them picked up from your home by one of our retail drivers…call Trish on 07541359881.

Items suitable for Kite include…books…DVD’s, CD’s. We also sell new toys, games and jigsaws…how many times do we buy something only never to use it…never take it out of it’s packaging?

If you would like to help us reach our goal and be involved in a most awesome RTE act now…you won’t regret it!