Meet Darren! 

Darren King has been Shop Manager in our Banbury store coming up for 12 years. He tells us a bit about what it’s like to run the shop and what how delighted everyone is with the recent refurb.

Can you tell us a bit about the shop? 

The shop has a real community feel and the cause is very important to that. The hospice was funded by the people of Banbury and surrounding villages more than thirty years ago – and that support continues to this day.  

I’d describe it as an old-school, traditional charity shop. It’s cheerful and chatty and you’ve got a good chance of finding something special. We always receive such positive comments, and I think that’s because it’s honestly priced with an interesting and eclectic range of goods. 

In an age where you can buy everything online, we wondered if people would still want to come and shop with us after the pandemic. But when we reopened once restrictions had lifted in July 2020, the queue was down the road to get into the shop. It was quite moving to see the support from the local community. 

What support do you have in the shop? 

I’m lucky to be surrounded by a brilliant team. As well as Andy, the Assistant Manager and Daphne the General Assistant, we have around 20-30 volunteers – some who have been here for many years.  

The shop has been blessed with some fantastic volunteers over the years, and everyone’s attributes and skills go into making the Banbury shop such a special place. We couldn’t run the shop without the high quality of people who generously donate their time. And we’re always looking for new volunteers to join the team!

Tell us a bit about your day 

We always start the day pricing up items so that we can get the stock out as quickly as possible.  

We receive so many fantastic donations to our shop and a real mix of items, ready for a new home. Over the years, we’ve had everything you can imagine donated. As a charity shop Manager, you learn to expect the unexpected. We once had a dead lizard donated!   

One of the things that keeps people coming back is how quickly stock is turned around. We aim to get donations out on the shopfloor ready for sale as fast as we can. As well as turning money around quickly it means there’s always new things to look at and bargains to be found.   

My day depends a lot on how many volunteers we have in. But you can guarantee that I’ll spend a lot of my time going up and down the stairs covering three floors. It certainly keeps your step count up! 

What’s happened with the shop refurb? 

Town centres have changed dramatically in terms of footfall, so it’s more important than ever that we keep relevant and make the shopping experience a great one. The planned refurb couldn’t have come at a better time, with the recent flooding that caused some damage to the interior. 

We’ve updated the shop and given it a fresher look with new fixtures and fittings. The Banbury shop is set across three floors in an old art deco building. The windows are a fantastic feature and let in so much natural light, but with so many windows there were some challenges with the layout of the shop and we weren’t always able to present things as we’d like. 

But now, new window stickers have allowed us to make better use of the space and display stock in a way where offers are clearer and easier to find for our customers.  

It’s a much more modern environment for customers to shop in and for our volunteers and staff to work in. But our traditional feel, community focus and competitive pricing remains.   

What’s the reaction to the refit been like?

It’s been fantastically positive. The extra space created, the colour scheme, the new fixtures, the lay out … we’ve received so many kind, constructive and pleasing remarks!

Trade has also been excellent since we returned, and we look forward to the future at the store with enthusiasm, high levels of optimism and pride.

Why are the hospice shops so important? 

The hospice shops are a hugely important source of income for Katharine House. It’s so rewarding knowing that what we do here in the shops directly supports the hospice and local community.  

Over the years I’ve spoken to hundreds of people who have lost someone that was cared for at Katharine House and they can never speak highly enough of the hospice and the staff.

Katharine House really is the very best of care. It’s about looking after people leaving the world with the same level of love and care as they came into it. I think it’s the care we’d all like to receive. 

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