Op-shops are opening back up, but it’s not business as usual
3 June 2020 at 5:47 pm
We take a look at the challenges charities face as op-shops reopen their doors
When COVID-19 hit, charity op-shops were, like most other businesses, forced to shut their doors.
This was a big blow to the income streams of many charities that rely on the stores to financially prop-up other parts of their organisations.
But as lockdown restrictions ease, op-shops are experiencing a boom in trade, providing cheaper clothing and household items for the many people who have lost their jobs as a result of the pandemic.
Things are not completely back to normal however. Amy Lanham, from Anglicare ACT and NSW, told Pro Bono News they were taking extra safety precautions when opening back up to protect their already vulnerable clientele.
“We work with vulnerable people anyway for the bulk of our services, so making sure that those safety measures are in place is critical across the organisation, including our retail stores,” Lanham said.
Not all op-shops will reopen at once, and the effectiveness of safety precautions such as increased cleaning, contactless payment, the installation of protective shields at counters, personal protective equipment for all team members, and hand-sanitising stations at the entrance of stores will be closely monitored by charities in the coming months.
Volunteers under pressure
With the outbreak of COVID-19 coming off the back of the summer bushfire season, Lanham said that charities and the volunteers that support them have been under immense pressure to keep up with demand.
“Putting in place all these extra safety precautions is putting extra pressure on volunteers who we are leaning on even more than we have before,” she said.
“And frankly, that’s just been the story of this whole year, because we were leaning on volunteers during the bushfires, and we’re leaning on them again now.”
But she said that despite the extra pressures the staff and volunteers will be under, having the retail stores back up and running was very welcome relief.
“We really depend on our retail stores because they provide that extra level of funding to prop-up the funding we get from the government,” she said.
“Fortunately, we’ve been able to get on JobKeeper, which is great for the immediate future, but I don’t know how things are going to look after that ends in September.”
She urged customers to head back to their local op-shop if it was open, and to abide by safety precautions set out in the store.
“We would encourage people to look at going back to supporting op shops, because not only are they doing ethical shopping, but they are supporting their community very directly,” she said.