Fears voiced that Hawick charity shops face fight for survival

Anna Lee, assistant manager at Hawicks British Heart Foundation shop, fears having seven such ventures there could be too much.
Anna Lee, assistant manager at Hawicks British Heart Foundation shop, fears having seven such ventures there could be too much.
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Concerns have been expressed that charity shops in Hawick High Street are facing a fight to survive as yet another prepares to open its doors.

When Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland is officially opened in the town centre shopping thoroughfare next week, it will bring the number of charity fundraising premises there to seven.

Five years ago, there were just four such outlets in the town centre, raising fears of too much competition for both customers and volunteers.

That’s a concern raised by Anna Lee, assistant manager at the town’s British Heart Foundation shop in High Street.

Anna admits that attracting trade and donations is getting harder year on year, and the premises is struggling to match its 2016 trading figures this year.

A decision has already been made to stop door-to-door bag drops because of the cost of paying drivers, forcing it to rely on free pick-ups and the ongoing generosity of the public.

Anna said: “We had originally thought that the new Chest Heart and Stroke shop would be selling furniture and electrical goods and would not be in direct competition with us, but now that appears not to be the case, and it will be selling clothes and books as we do.

“Because of the increased competition, it gets harder every year to attract not just donations and customers into the shop but also volunteers to work here too.

“A few years ago, there were four charity shops in the High Street and then the Salvation Army opened and then the Borders Pet Rescue premises, and now we have seven. It’s basically doubled in five years.

“This is not an attack on any particular charity – it’s just the reality of the situation, but if a shop can’t run at a profit, there is no point in it operating because at the end of the day, it is losing money for the charity it is representing.

“We have got our lease and are committed to staying, but others may have to consider their future if they are not making a profit and can’t attract the donations and volunteers.”

The CHSS shop, which opens a week today in the former Store Twenty One outlet in High Street, will also incorporate a community hub, a meeting room, advice sessions and free wifi.