THE charity shop at East Clare Community Coop on Main Street in Scariff took its first steps on the road to re-opening with a bright new look, lots more space and an expanded range of stock for a dedicated clientele who missed its services over the course of the lockdown.
An Alladin’s cave for the bargain hunter, the shop has existed in different forms and locations at the East Clare Community Coop premises over the last decade. The service was originally established by the late Margaret McTernan, grandmother of Eurovision star, Sarah. Margaret’s recent passing cast a cloud of sadness over the facility and, according to shop manager Sharon Daly, there is a determination to do her memory proud. “Margaret was the driving force for the shop and got it off the ground,” Sharon said. “I hope she would be proud of it, she will be sadly missed.” A tribute posted recently by the Coop described Mags as “a great character, discerning and witty and full of kindness for others”, and it is that generous spirit that the organisation strives to foster and continue.
As for all charity shops, the restrictions around Covid-19 have created a few headaches, but Sharon and her dedicated team have risen to the challenge. “For the moment, we can only have two people in the shop at a time,” she said. “We have two entrances, so that’s made it possible to put a one-way system in place and we have perspex installed and sanitising facilities. We do still take cash, because that’s important for our customers.”
The new airy premises has also allowed more stock to be offered. “We’ve doubled our stock, so that’s really great,” Sharon said. “We have clothing, bric-a-brac and books. Sometimes, we get donations of larger items, so we offer those for sale on social media. We make sure there’s new stock every week.”
The shop not only offers a retail amenity to the town, its takings help to fund the therapy and other services offered by the Coop. “Everything we make goes into the Coop,” Sharon explained, “and most of what we raise funds the centres holistic therapies, so people are giving to a great cause when they shop with us, and when they make donations. We received a donation recently of a beautiful rug and that sold for €100. Mostly though, our prices are far lower, customers get a number of items for just €4 or €5.”
A recent donation from The Ogonnelloe Exchange has also added greatly to the variety of items on offer. Sorting and getting stock ready for sale is a major enterprise in itself and Covid-19 has made that aspect fo the work a bit more complex. “We used to be able to do the sorting in the shop, but we’ve found a box room to do that now,” explained Sharon. “For clothing, the recommended storage time before sale is 48 hours and it’s 24 for bric-a-brac. We have a great team of volunteers and staff, so we’re kept busy.”
The shop also promotes the principles of re-using and recycling items. “Sometimes people don’t realise that there is an alternative to landfill when it comes to things like clothing and textiles,” Sharon noted. “Even if something can’t be worn or used again, it can still be recycled. St Vincent de Paul pick up items from us for recycling. So, even if something is worn out, it still has potential.”
The shop is open Monday to Saturday and a visit to the café and Community Garden is an added attraction to a visit to the Coop.