Ann is a shining light in the world of charity shops as she creates a community hub at Chatteris Salvation Army store

Ann Matthews is a volunteer at the Salvation Army shop in Chatteris - now she is part of a campaign

Ann Matthews is a volunteer at the Salvation Army shop in Chatteris - now she is part of a campaign to encourage voluntary. - Credit: Archant

This #VolunteersWeek The Salvation Army is shining a light on their dedicated volunteers who are transforming lives across the country.

Ann Matthews, 75, is the lead volunteer at Chatteris Salvation Army charity shop.

Over the past seven years, Ann has used her experience in managing charity shops to turn a small high street shop into a thriving community hub.

Here are four simple tips from Ann on how to make your charity shop as successful as hers:

• Invest in your hangers - Ann takes pride in how donations are displayed.

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As a result she has replaced the shop’s old wire hangers with sturdy blue ones. Not only do the clothes now hang better but they match the colour of the team’s uniform.

Ann said: “Making some simple changes to how your shop looks could make a huge difference.”

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• Create space for wheelchair users and buggies

Ann has shown how even the smallest shop can be reorganised to make room for wheelchair users and buggies.

By adding shelves and making the most of the high ceilings, space has been created in the middle of the store.

Items are also displayed on a variety of levels to make sure people in wheelchairs can see and reach products they may be interested in.

Ann said: “Putting yourself in your customers’ shoes may help you come up with ideas to improve their shopping experience.”

• Accessories belong together

Ann groups bags, shoes and scarfs together to make it easier for customers to find a whole outfit for a special occasion or season.

She said: “Presenting your accessories department with a wedding or holiday theme will attract attention and help drive sales.”

• Don’t forget the dogs!

Ann knows the community well and when she realised no other shop on the high street was offering water for the local dogs she started making sure there was fresh water outside the shop door every morning. This has opened up daily conversations with dog walkers who stop for a chat or drop off donations.

Ann said: “Getting to know your local area, responding to what local people need, what interests them, will position your shop in the community’s heart.”

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