Who would have though it? Our Oxfam shop at Tickhill has come all the way from a fundraising coffee morning in 1979, to the busy shop in Buttercross Court. We began, for several years, by having a pop-up shop for three weeks leading up to Christmas, sometimes in empty shops in the town of Tickhill, or Geoff Jackson’s workshop, or Mr Bowley’s Shed. When these were no longer an option we were able to use a Portakabin on a carpark. The Portakabins were not very comfortable on a cold winter’s day with no loo, no heating, no kettle — although the last one did boast a small light bulb. The thought of having our very own permanent residence, with an electricity supply in Buttercross Court was a luxurious idea indeed. Sceptics (our husbands) said we’d last about three months, that we would never get enough stock to keep going, but here we are still going strong almost 40 years since that first coffee morning. This has only been possible thanks to the kind donations and support of the local community.
To begin with managed by Jo Clarke, we had just one little unit in which we sorted, bagged, ironed, priced, did the paperwork and sold to our customers. It soon became clear we needed more space, so when the adjoining unit became vacant, the opportunity was taken to create a shop with separate sorting room. When Jo Clarke moved away from Tickhill, Chris Gell offered to become our manager, and the shop continues to thrive with its staff of up to forty volunteers, some of whom have been with us right from the start. When Chris became unwell, Lesley Lockett took on the role of manager for two years, and our new manager is Grant Heath.
It has to be said that it is a very happy shop, the volunteers becoming more like friends of the years, and, unlike a busy town shop, we know many of our customers by name too. Few people go away empty-handed, delighted that they can buy anything from an egg cup to a ball-gown. We now open at 9.30am, so if you haven’t been in yet, do come and take a look at what has become a great success story.