I have been the Shop Manager at nineteen49, the Emmaus charity shop in Tring, since September 2017.
I have worked in retail since the age of 15 and I have managed a number of high street, vintage and charity shops. I made the move into charity from high street retail as I’ve always wanted to give back and make a difference. The most positive thing about working at Emmaus is that I get to see first-hand where my hard work is going and I can directly see the difference within the Emmaus Hertfordshire community.
Before working in nineteen49, I knew that Emmaus was a homelessness charity, and I regularly shopped in their Hemel Hempstead shop. I had no idea that the Emmaus companions worked in all areas of the shops, from delivery and collections to serving customers and upcycling furniture. I think that’s the most important thing to shout about and I talk about it all the time to customers in nineteen49 – I think they get fed up with me sometimes!
Throughout my career I have gained a lot of experience in Visual Merchandising and normally in retail it is very structured. At the time of applying for the shop manager position at Emmaus I was looking for somewhere with more freedom and flexibility to utilise my visual merchandising skills. Emmaus gives me that freedom to put forward my ideas and own it. Having that flexibility has meant that I am now able to train the companions through Visual Merchandising workshops which will benefit the other five Emmaus shops.
When I first started the position, nineteen49 was not performing to the best of its potential; takings were down and the shop was quite empty. We weren’t focusing on what our point of interest was, which is vintage, retro, antiques and modern quirky. The first thing I did in my role was a complete overhaul, and made sure we were managing stock better. I now hand pick everything that comes into the shop, which comes naturally to me as I have always had an interest in vintage and my mum is an antiques dealer. I try to give us a different slant to a typical charity shop – everything is either retro, antique or vintage, and most of the time people don’t think nineteen49 is a charity shop.
I have a lot more ideas for the shop, and would love to do more vintage and retro events in store to promote the stock we have. I have recently recruited three volunteers too, so the shop is expanding nicely.
I really do feel part of the community working at Emmaus and I see myself being here for a long time.