Learning from our volunteers: Four simple tips to transform your charity shop

published on 1 Jun 2017

This #VolunteersWeek News Centre is shining a light on our amazing Sally Army volunteers who are transforming lives across the country.

Ann Matthews is the lead volunteer at Chatteris Salvation Army charity shop. Over the past seven years, Ann has used her experience in managing charity shops to turn a small high street shop into a community hub. Watch the short video and read on to find out more.


Here are four simple tips we’ve learned from Ann after a visit to the buzzing Salvation Army shop in rural Cambridgeshire.

1. Invest in your hangers

Ann takes pride in how donations are displayed. The old wire hangers have been replaced by sturdy blue ones. Not only do the clothes now hang better but they match the colour of the team’s uniform.

Making some simple changes to how your shop looks could make a huge difference.

2.    Create space for wheelchair users and buggies

Ann has shown how even the smallest shop can be reorganised to make room for wheelchair users and buggies. By adding shelves and making the most of the high ceilings, space has been created in the middle of the store. Items are also displayed on a variety of levels to make sure people in wheelchairs can see and reach products they may be interested in.

Putting yourself in your customers’ shoes may help you come up with ideas to improve their shopping experience.

3.    Accessories belong together

Ann groups bags, shoes and scarfs together to make it easier for customers to find a whole outfit for a special occasion or season.

Presenting your accessories department with a wedding or holiday theme will attract attention and help drive sales.

4.    Don’t forget the dogs!

Ann knows the community well and when she realised no other shop on the high street was offering water for the local dogs she started making sure there was fresh water outside the shop door every morning. This has opened up daily conversations with dog walkers who stop for a chat or drop off donations.

Getting to know your local area – responding to what local people need, what they are interested in - will help position your store at the heart of the community.

To find your local Sally Army charity shop, use our interactive map page here