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Charity shops, facing numerous challenges after three months in lockdown

The safety of staff and customers is guaranteed by volunteers at Age Care’s charity shop in Calahonda.
The safety of staff and customers is guaranteed by volunteers at Age Care’s charity shop in Calahonda. / SUR
  • For many organisations these shops are their main source of income, but a shortage of volunteers and having to comply with strict regulations pose many difficulties

Some of the Costa del Sol’s charity shops and outlets reopened their doors after Phase Two of lockdown easing came into force on 25 May. Other organisations decided to wait a little longer, even though their shops are their main source of income. Selling second-hand goods donated by the general public, these shops generate tens of thousands of euros every year and they have become moneymaking enterprises to fund the charity work of numerous organisations in southern Spain.

Phase Three, which came into force on Monday 8 June, has eased the regulations further, and now more charities are opening their shop doors again after taking the necessary precautions to protect their staff and customers.

Complying with regulations

In order to reopen, all shops must now comply with regulations to encourage social distancing, while also employing other methods like methacrylate screens and strict daily cleaning and disinfecting plans.

One of the problems faced is the fact that most volunteers in these shops are senior citizens, so extra precautions are needed in order to protect them.

Additionally, the number of available fitting rooms has been limited, while items that customers try on but choose not to buy are quarantined for at least 72 hours and disinfected before being available again. Credit card payment is encouraged, but not compulsory.

One thing that the shops have in common is the fact that they all rely heavily on the generosity of the general public, donations received from private institutions and the tireless help of their volunteers. Some charities are now making desperate appeals for volunteers to enable them to reopen their shops.

Appealing for volunteers

The majority of Cudeca’s 23 shops across Malaga province are back in business and the hospice charity plans to open its retail premises in San Pedro Alcántara, Alhaurín el Grande and Nerja on Monday 15 June. However, as spokesperson Ángel Krebbers pointed out, “We simply do not have enough volunteers in order to open the remaining shops.” Those wishing to volunteer can find details on Cudeca’s Facebook page.

The Age Care charity shop in Calahonda was among the first to pull up their shutters on Monday 25 May after implementing new regulations to ensure the safety of staff and customers. The shop is open from 10am until 4pm from Monday to Friday.

The second-hand shop run in aid of the Duquesa Charitable Society of Saint George in Sabinillas has also opened and is trading between 10am and 1.30pm from Monday to Saturday. In order to tempt people back, a selection of second-hand clothes is available at just 50 cents per item on Friday and Saturday mornings.

Debra, the Marbella-based charity that cares for “butterfly” children suffering from Epidermolysis bullosa, is planning to open its shops in San Pedro de Alcántara and Marbella later this month. The charity is also appealing for volunteers who can spare a few hours each week to help with the running of the shops (www.debra.es).

Meanwhile La Cala de Mijas Lions Club will reopen its three second-hand shops on 15 June. At first, the shops will open for three mornings each week. The organisation told SUR in English that every effort has been made to get the shops ready for opening, while pointing out, “Masks and gloves will be mandatory for volunteers and customers.”

Members and supporters of Age Concern Fuengirola, Mijas and Benalmádena are currently sanitising their charity shop in Los Boliches in preparation for opening on Monday 22 June. The shop will operate between 10.30am and 2pm from Monday to Saturday, while on Wednesdays, it will also open from 5pm to 7pm.

Secretary Steve Marshall said, “We are going above and beyond the regulations that are in place to ensure the health of all our volunteers and customers. We are starting with a deep clean before we bring in new stock. Every single item in the shop will be sanitised and this will be repeated daily.”

Animal charities

Many of the second-hand shops that generate income for the numerous animal charities on the coast are also back in business. The SOS Animal charity shop in Villafranco del Guadalhorce (Alhaurín el Grande) is open daily (except Sundays) between 10am and 2pm.

The store attached to the ARCH equestrian sanctuary, and also the Animals in Distress (AID) outlet, both of which are based in Alhaurín el Grande, reopened to the public during Phase Two of the lockdown.

The Coín-based Charity for Animals in Need (CHAIN) reopened its store on Wednesday.