I was swooped on by relief manager Roisin within a nanosecond of my arrival. She was panicking. It was just me, her and a new volunteer manning the whole shop and stock room all afternoon. I'm not going to lie, I wasn't entirely thrilled by the proposition that followed: 'I'll teach you to man the till, and in half an hour when the new girl gets here, you can teach her too'. Excellent!
After the till screamed at me a million times for typing in decimal points (the till at the shop for some reason refuses to accept decimal points as a concept), I finally mastered working the till. Two more customers later, and I felt relatively confident that I could teach someone else the skill. That was until someone tried to pay with a credit card!
Although I mastered the credit card machine (or so I thought), I was struck dumb when the rag man arrived. Cheerful as always, he moved the week's rag to his van and weighed it. I was sadly manning the till at the time, and had to deal with his card. Thankfully, the jolly soul talked me through the whole procedure. I think he should have his own show, he's that nice.
Despite initial problems, the afternoon that followed was entirely enjoyable. There is something great about learning what goes on at the other side of the till than the customer, and although I've had a lot of experience as a customer, I've never done retail work before. Myself and the new volunteer manned the shop with occasional input from the relief manager, and I really enjoyed the experience.
What did I learn from the shop floor?
- Yet another skill to add to my CV list. I'm sure any job seekers are aware that you might as well not bother applying for retail work unless you've had some experience with a till. Check!
- Charity shops get a large amount of shoplifters. Hard to believe, but shoplifters target charity shops specifically, presumably because the volunteers aren't as vigilant as a trained sales assistant. We were told to keep a strict watch on anyone who look suspicious - but the charity shop also have a mental list of reoffending shoplifters, and it's surprisingly large.
- The majority of charity shops will give volunteers a discount on goods purchased. I purchased a game for one of my flatmates, and if I'd asked the manager, she would have probably knocked a pound or two off the price. It was £2 and the proceeds go to charity - I didn't feel the need to get discount. But the £20 Whistles dress? Now, I would be tempted.