Rennie Grove Hospice Care looks forward to re-opening charity shops in Hemel, Berkhamsted and Tring

Step 2, which will be no earlier than 12 April, will see the opening of non-essential retail

By Holly Patel
Tuesday, 30th March 2021, 8:30 am

Rennie Grove Hospice Care is looking forward to welcoming customers back to its charity shops on Monday, April 12, the provisional date in the Prime Minister’s roadmap for non-essential shops to re-open.

The charity’s four shops in Hemel Hempstead, its Berkhamsted shop specialising in ladies’ high-end, designer and vintage pieces and featuring its bridal boutique, and its shop in Tring will spring back into action from Monday, April 12, full of fresh, colourful fashion for the new season.

Each shop will follow social distancing guidelines and ask that customers wear facemasks - unless exempt - and use the hand sanitiser provided.

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Staff and volunteers working and staying safe inside Rennie Grove charity shops

Customers can enjoy a brand new shopping experience in the Tring-based shop, which has been refurbished since it was last open in October.

Rennie Grove has 26 charity shops in total, which in a typical year provide more than £1million towards the charity’s specialist nursing care for patients with life-limiting illness and their families.

Since the first lockdown last March, its shops have had to shut three times, causing a significant loss of trading.

These repeated closures have seen the charity’s Retail and Trading team adapting to recoup some of that shortfall in funding.

Nicola Flood, buying, merchandising and business development manager, said: “We’ve worked really hard to expand our online trading.

“We had so many clothes and other items sitting in our shops when they had to shut; it was down to us to be creative and make sure we could transform those kind donations into nursing care by making them available online to the people that were looking for them.

“People still wanted to shop – and they still wanted to support us. So we expanded our online presence by adding Facebook Marketplace to our existing DePop (vintage, high-end fashion) and eBay platforms.

"We also adapted our eBay operation so we could sell more items more quickly.

"Thanks to a very generous donation from online fashion clothing company Shein, we were able to sell hundreds of fashion bundles on eBay with a ‘buy it now’ option.

"People wanted to treat themselves and they didn’t want to wait. We were very happy to oblige!”

Since last March, Rennie Grove’s income from sales online has increased significantly.

The charity’s 24-hour responsive care has been more important than ever during the pandemic, when hospitals have been so busy and visiting hours restricted.

Nicola added: “We’re so grateful to all our loyal customers, so many of whom went online to seek us out and keep supporting us, and to our new online following too.

"Our volunteers were brilliant as well. People who’d been furloughed, graduates waiting to enter the job market, people who’d decided to adjust their work-life balance all offered their services alongside our existing volunteers to prepare, list and package up items so we could sell more online to fund our services.

“Thanks to all our supporters, our nurses have been able to keep visiting patients at home throughout each lockdown, helping to prevent hospital admissions and keep families safe and at home, together.”

Rennie Grove’s charity shops in Bennettsgate, Henry Wells Square, Maylands and Warners End, plus its specialist shop in Berkhamstead and its refurbished Tring shop, will open Monday to Saturday from 12 April, accepting donations on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

Each shop only has a limited amount of space to store donations, which must be quarantined for safety purposes.