Hospice shops in Whanganui East, Gonville and Victoria Ave are an essential part of Hospice Whanganui fundraising. The Whanganui East store is at 74 Duncan St, Gonville is at 73 Tawa St and Hospice Boutique is at 171 Victoria Ave.
With daylight saving and the approach of longer days and warmer weather, the shops are extending their hours.
Summer opening times are Monday to Friday, 9.30am to 4.30pm, and Saturday, from 9.30am to 1pm.
From the first full week in October, all three shops put out their Christmas goods. Demand is so high, that Tawa St is sold out by November, says shop manager, Sue. That includes, trees, decorations ... anything related to Christmas.
Tawa St is known as the Flagship Shop for Hospice, being the first to open about 13 years ago. Its success led to the creation of the other two shops.
The Hospice Boutique in Victoria Ave engages with events and themes, working in with Mainstreet to produce retro clothing and items for Vintage Weekend, for example. Their window display reflects the events.
"Every shop has their own demographic and each shop has its own point of difference," says Valda Brechmanis, public relations & volunteer services manager at Hospice Whanganui. Tawa St caters for Castlecliff and Gonville and things are priced accordingly. The suburban shops also feed high quality goods to the Victoria Ave Boutique.
Sue says her shop is frequented by shoppers from all over, including places from around the lower North Island.
All shops are, except for the manager, staffed by volunteers, most of whom have had an association with Hospice.
"It's interesting, when you talk to volunteers, just how deeply connected they are at a very personal level with Hospice, because they have had that experience with a family member of friend," says Hospice Whanganui chief executive Davene Vroom.
"It's a personal thing for people, and very special, and it points to the number of volunteers we have."
Hospice Whanganui is supported by about 220 volunteers.
"There are a lot of people who have an idea of what Hospice is and does and they want to be a part of that in some small way," says Valda.
All volunteers are given an orientation course in which they learn about the organisation and what it does before going to the site to learn the job. The rewards for them are a welcoming community, a collegial feel, a good day's work and solid companionship.
"There are a whole lot of those which are unspoken and unwritten rewards, but it doesn't make them any less real," she says.
Volunteers are always welcome at any of the shops.
Davene has been chief executive for less than three months.
"I have come to really appreciate just how absolutely, fundamentally important and part of the Hospice whanau the shops are. They raise a significant percentage of our annual budget for Hospice to operate," she says.
"Every dollar a customer spends in a shop directly benefits a patient. We just would not be able to run the kind of service we do for patients and families in Whanganui without them."
Valda says 52 per cent of Hospice Whanganui's operational budget has to be sourced from the community.
"Retail contributes a significant portion of that."
The Whanganui East shop is divided into three separate shops on the one site: Tawa St, Gonville, is all under one roof, catering to the different buying and donating demographics.
The Gonville book section is huge and they often have book sales, reducing the price to a dollar. The same with clothing, with half-price sales.
Each manager is well versed in retail technique, getting the best out of their shop to get the best return for Hospice. They are also passionate about working for Hospice.
Sue has been managing the Gonville shop for six years. She had just finished 30-odd years working for the AA.
"I came down here to buy some little jars to make candles for our son's wedding. I had such a great experience with one of the volunteers behind the counter, she was so helpful …"
Sue applied for three jobs, one being the Hospice shop manager.
In the end she had to choose. While the other paid more money, she chose the Hospice shop position.
"Hospice has done a lot for me … time for me to give back. And I absolutely love my job. I have grown with it. I look at it as my shop and I want it to succeed."
Her husband now volunteers for the shop.
Veronica, who manages Hospice Boutique, did property management for the past 10 years.
"I was stressed: I'd had enough … then I drove a bus for a year for Ag Challenge."
She had a connection with Hospice, having seen the care given to a loved one over a period of 10 months.
"The Hospice shop came up and I applied for it. I didn't think I'd get it because there are so many talented people out there, and the list of things you had to do was this long …"
She has made a few changes and increased the shop's turnover.
Details about Hospice can be found on the Hospice Whanganui website - hospicewhanganui.org.nz - or on the Facebook page, where you'll also find information on all three shops.