Excited new customers struggled to contain their anticipation as Prospect Hospice opened the latest – and biggest – of its nine charity stores on Clive Parade in Stratton.
Swindon's mayor, Councillor David Wren, cut the ribbon to mark the official opening of the new store, which is the culmination of many months' effort by the Prospect team to bring the now-familiar Shop Prospect brand to Stratton.
No sooner had the shop opened than the three-piece suite, taking pride of place in the front window, was snapped up by Gloria Hopkins of Penhill, who had seen the donated furniture on display as she had walked her dog that morning. "I'm very pleased," she said, "and I like the shop. I'll be back for more bargains!"
The store's new manager, Mary Mahoney, was thrilled that so many people came along to show their support for the new shop. "People have been very positive," she said. "We are very grateful for the support of the community, not just as customers, but also to the many who have offered to help run the shop as volunteers."
One admiring shopper was Barbara Hope from Stratton. "I'm very impressed," she said. "Prospect is raising the standard of charity shops locally, with its stock, the displays, and also the staff themselves. I'll be coming back, definitely."
Aside from opening the new shop, Councillor Wren also donated several items to be sold there. "I read recently that, if every person in the country donated six items to charity shops, it would raise £2billion for charities nationally," he said. "I'm only too keen to help out in this way."
Also supporting the launch were staff from Intel in Old Town, who brought along items raised in the weeks before the shop opened. "We specifically asked staff to donate items worth more than £5, and that's what we've brought along," said Intel's Krystyna Nowicka . "Prospect is a charity that is close to the hearts of many people who work at Intel, and we thought this was an excellent way to show our support."
Prospect's retail operation is key to the provision of Prospect's care for patients and families locally, and last year contributed £900,000 towards the charity's income. With the opening of the new shop, it is hoped that retail sales will contribute more than £1m this year.
"We were delighted to meet so many new Shop Prospect customers this morning," said Mark Smith, Prospect's Director of Income Generation, "and we are very hopeful that, as word spreads, the shop will become a cherished part of the community it serves, and make a significant contribution to the care of our patients."
In 2008-09, it cost more than £4.5m for Prospect to care for more than 1400 patients and families referred to its services.