Our ability to serve the community through Vinnies shops relies solely on the kindness and generosity of those who donate quality items for sale.
Donations of clothing, household items, furniture and bric-a-brac are encouraged. Thanks to an army of volunteers in the shops, there are minimal running costs, allowing for profits from the sale of goods to go into community programs and services.
For this edition of The Record, Lindsay Dunn discusses why the shops are a success, and what’s needed for that success to continue. Vinnies shops play a major role in the St Vincent de Paul Society, firstly through being its public ‘face’.
With about 640 shops nationally (more than Domino’s Pizza), the brand is highly visible and recognisable.
Our brand is trusted, and it is important that we carefully manage the way we use it.AAA The Vinnies shops exist for three key reasons:
- To act as the fulfilment arm of Conferences and Special Works, through providing clothing, homewares and other items to our companions in need.
- To provide a dignified shopping experience for those who shop with us out of economic necessity.
- To raise necessary profits to fund the wider work of the Society.
Of course there are other benefits, such as providing an opportunity for meaningful volunteering, promoting a sense of community, and at times being the only social outlet for some of our volunteers and customers.
The Vinnies shop network has a golden opportunity to grow and improve. The growth will come from discretionary shoppers; those who choose to shop with us for a variety of reasons, as ‘op-shopping’ is becoming not only de-stigmatised, but trendy.
Motivating factors for discretionary shoppers include a commitment to recycling and reducing waste, a belief in social justice, a dislike of Australia’s retail duopoly, or just the thrill of the chase in finding a unique item.
To underpin this growth, Vinnies shops need to maintain professional standards in order to compete in this market. Shop location, appearance and lay-out are important, along with customer service, work, health and safety and financial management.
Lindsay Dunn is the South Australian Retail Manager for Vinnies.