Books, camping gear, china and clothing flew out the door at one of Whanganui's most prominent op shops between Christmas and New Year.

While some charity shops were shut for the holiday period, the Salvation Army Family Store in Victoria Ave was open its usual hours - 9am to 6pm - from Tuesday to Saturday.

It did good business, full-time manager Brenda Kendrick said.

"Homeware sales were up that week. We also noticed clothing was up as well, and we certainly sold trolley loads of books."


There were lots of shoppers, especially young people in campervans wanting hiking boots and camping equipment. Holiday makers looked for leisure reading and regular visitors from Wellington, Auckland and Tauranga scanned the china.

"We have a pool of people, out of town visitors, who have said to me that they always make sure they call in when they're in town.

"They like shopping here in charity stores. They can pick up things like fine china and bone-handled knives cheaper than they can in cities."

The store has eight paid staff, 18 volunteers and five Duke of Edinburgh students who help out on Saturdays. Mrs Kendrick has been in the job four years, and has learned how to value donations.

She's also employed part-time experts to clean, assess, price, sort and display homewares and clothing.

"Over the last few years the surplus from the store has more than doubled, just by changing processess and getting the right people to do the right job," she said.

The store uses Trade Me, and it has a silent auction going for items like cigarette card collections, opera glasses and a greedy pig money box.

It helps that it's near a supermarket open until late and a 24-hour petrol outlet. A lot of business happens after five, Mrs Kendrick said.

The decision to stay open over the holiday period was made three years ago, and it has the added advantage of capturing donations.

"Some [charity shops] close, but they come back to find a mountain of donations outside, that have been gone through, messed up and scattered around."