Note: You can check out part 2 of our guide to opening a charity shop right here.

Opening a charity shop is a great idea for any charity as they’re an effective way to increase awareness and donations. Setting up your own isn’t an easy job though and can be even more difficult than opening up any retail store. You’ll be faced with the issues any small business is such as marketing, security and health and safety as well as tasks specific to charity retail like sourcing stock and volunteers. From our experience in helping charity retail shops with their retailing we’ve picked up a few tips on how to set up and operate a charity shop and we’ll happily share these with you in a new series we’re running.


This part will focus on what you need to do before opening your shop…




Things to know about before opening a charity shop


There are a few boring things to think about before you set up your charity shop that concern the business side of things. They’re not too much trouble to go through but they’re essential for every charity shop.


  • Of course only charities can set up a charity shop so make sure you’ve registered as one with the charity commission before doing else.
  • There are a few statutory obligations that are involved with being a retailer that you should know before opening a shop.
  • Charity shops aren’t taxed like regular businesses. They’re exempt from things like corporation tax and VAT, but you should be familiar with which taxes exactly you will be paying in your local area.


Setting Up The Shop


Firstly, you need to set out a budget for the start up of your charity shop. Just like with any other retail store you’re going to need some capital to start with to pay for the space rental, staff recruitment and any fitting that needs to be done. If you can’t fund the shop yourself then there may be loans or grants available to help you.


Once you know how much money you have available you can create a budget that will tell you how much you have available for a retail space and how many staff you can hire.


Find a location in line with your budget and consider things like footfall, area demographic and rent. Make sure the space has plenty of storage for all the stock that you will have.


Once you have found the location and signed the lease, get the shop ready for retailing with shelves, railings a counter with a till and adequate storage facilities. You’ll need a sign for the outside as well as display materials for the inside to help you attract customers in and sell your goods.




It’s also recommended that you install some security equipment too, such as CCTV cameras and alarms, to keep your stock and your staff safe.


Hiring staff is also important for a charity shop; you’ll at least need a shop manager to take care of stock, volunteers and cash handling. Choosing one with experience will help you to make more money in the long run.


Finding volunteers is the next step; depending on how often your shop is open, you’ll need around 20 volunteers to allow for 2 to be working in the shop at any one time.



So that’s all for this part of the series. You should now have a few ideas of the things you need to do before you open your charity shop. In the next part we’ll be looking at what you need to do leading up to launch day to put you on the right tracks for success.


Of course, no charity shop will get very far without an effective retail system. We have been supplying charity retail systems for many years and that’s why we can serve all our customers so well. For more information about what we can deliver, feel free to contact us on 01204 706 000.

Legacy fundraising is a brilliant way for charities to increase their donations and is a major source of income for many non-profits. It is the donations that people leave in their wills and more people are doing it every year. In the UK alone, £2.044 billion is raised each year for charities via legacies each year by generous people, and this figure is expected to triple over the next 40 years.

The problem is that most charities struggle to ask for these kinds of donations and may be missing out on large amounts of donations. To help you to capture this stream of donations and complete your charity’s goals we’ve got a few tips for effective legacy fundraising.

Read more

All retail shops are designed in a specific way that helps to increase profits and prevent stock loss. Making money is the most important factor for a shop, so the store layout must be planned in a way that makes customers want to come in and spend money – something that is extremely important when competing with other stores in the area.

The way that a shop looks should be both practical and aesthetically pleasing, so that it attracts customers whilst still protecting your store from theft.

As a company who specialises in charity retail systems, we have seen many different store layouts over the years. Therefore, we thought we would share some layout secrets from some of the most successful charity stores that we have worked with.

Group Of Young Friends Shopping In Mall Together


Your Window Displays Matter

Before customers even enter your store, the first impression they get about your business is from what they see in your windows. This can be make or break for a customer – if they like something, they will come in. A smart window display will attract customers, but it might also catch the attention of donors and volunteers. The stock that you display in your window should be seasonal, so it must be changed often to fit in with different events and periods throughout the year. Window displays should also be clearly priced – a good price will make people want to come in.

Give Your Biggest Sellers More Space on The Floor

All retail stores, whether it’s a charity store or not, will have their best sellers. These are the items that are sold on a frequent basis, or are the items that more customers come in and look for. Typically, this will be books or clothes in an average charity shop – these always sell really well. Once you have indentified what your best sellers are, you should make sure that they have the most space on the shop floor. They should be in a place that is seen easily, accessible and attractively displayed.

Position Your Counter Where You Can See Most of The Shop


Charity shops often only have a few volunteers working in there at a time, which means that it’s important that your checkout counter is positioned so that you can see most of your stock when stuck behind the till.  For security reasons, you shouldn’t put it too close to the door. You should place your items that are more expensive near the tills, therefore you will spot any theft that may happen (and sadly it does).

Think About What You Place Around Your Checkout

Stock that is placed around your checkout should be things that might persuade waiting customers to make an impulse buy. These are usually small and low cost products, that potentially could of been overlooked whilst browsing in the rest of the shop. These items should be clearly priced, as the low price might provide tempting for those waiting to be served.

The woman pays off in a boutique

Are you thinking of starting up your own charity shop? We can help you find the perfect retail system for your store. We work with hundreds of local and national charities, and we don’t take a penny from any of the sales that you make. We give full training on using our systems, so you can be assured that you’re getting the best possible help.

For more information on EPoS systems, please don’t hesitate to contact us. You can give us a call on 01204 706 000 and a member of our team will be happy to help.

The regular charity donators among you may have heard of this fantastic initiative that has been in place for quite a while now. Gift Aid is a great way to give a little bit more to a charity without paying anything more.

Sounds too good to be true, right? How does this mind boggling process work? Join us as we look at how Gift Aid operates and what that means for our charity donations.

What Is Gift Aid?

Gift Aid is a tax incentive in the UK which allows charities to claim back the basic rate of tax on their donations. For every £1 that you spend, the charity can claim back 25p, which soon adds up, especially as charity shops are becoming a popular shopping alternative.

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How Does It Work?

Income tax payers in the UK can add Gift Aid to their charity donations by completing a short declaration which simply states that they pay income tax. By declaring this, basic rate taxpayers can add around 25% more value to their donations which the charity can then claim back. These forms provide minimum information which is required for the charities to claim this tax back.

As long as your gift aid donations don’t exceed the amount of tax that you have paid in the current tax year more than 4 times, you will be eligible to donate with Gift Aid. If your circumstances change, it is imperative that you inform the charity so that you avoid any extra charges from the HMRC claiming overpaid Gift Aid money back from you.

What Do I Need to Do?

To qualify to donate to a charity with the additional Gift Aid, you simply need to fill out a declaration form, informing the charity that you pay income tax in the UK.


This declaration doesn’t require you to donate regularly to the charity, but any donations that you do provide will allow the charity to claim 25% back on every £1 that you donate from the government. It is simply giving the charity permission to gain a little extra cash at no expense to yourself.

As long as you are eligible, the charity will be able to claim. You can even add gift aid to your sponsorship events, providing that each donator provides their details.

Our charity EPoS systems make collecting Gift Aid a whole lot easier for the charities that use our systems. With this automated system, charities and consumers can be sure that the Gift Aid will definitely be processed, and the charities can benefit from it in a quicker, more beneficial time. If you are looking for a stress free way to process Gift Aid in your charity shop, contact Chairty Retain Systems today by calling our team on 01204 706 000 and find out how our CHARiot system can aid your charity.


Retail shops need to stay up to date with the latest technologies to innovate, and charity shops are no different. Mobile offers a whole new way to connect with people, but most charity retail shops are slow to take advantage of this. Most people in the UK have a mobile, and very few spend more than a couple of hours per day out of reach of it so it is no surprise that businesses are using this channel to their advantage. To help you capitalise on this technology too, we’re going to outline some of the biggest reasons charities need to be using mobile today.


Donors Have the Freedom to Donate When They Want To

Usually when a person is asked to donate to a charity, they are either in store or in the street. Although these methods have some success, they force the individual to make a decision on the spot and most people don’t like this. Many services allow charities to receive donations through texting, or via apps, and this gives people the chance to make the decision in their own time and donate when they like. This increases the chances that the individual will make a donation.

More People Can Be Reached

Not everyone can be reached through canvassing, and some people don’t shop in charity shops. People who are housebound, can’t shop during normal hours or are from out of the area can’t be reached through these methods. Mobile allows you to connect with these people that would otherwise not have been reached.

Mobile Doesn’t Cost Much

Having people in the street canvassing isn’t free, and the costs add up. In contrast, mobile is a lot cheaper to set up and maintain so will save you money that you could be putting to better use elsewhere.

Donors Can Stay Up-To-Date

When an individual donates in store or on the street, the donor rarely stays connected with the charity to find out how their donation made a difference. Mobile allows people to follow the progress of a charity and see the good work they are doing. Not only does this make donors feel better about their donations, it also increases the chances that they’ll donate again and tell others about the charity.


Hopefully you’ll now have some ideas about what mobile can do for your charity and how you can benefit from implementing it into your marketing strategy.

If you are looking to invest in other areas of your charity shop you may consider improving your charity retail systems. If this is something you are interested in doing, don’t hesitate to contact us on 01204 706 000 or head over to our website where you can book a demo of the CHARiot system.

Retail has evolved over the years due to the introduction of digital inputs – something that has become a central part of the everyday shopping experience. This hasn’t be something that has escaped the notice of charity retail shops, and slowly they are beginning to embrace the online world.

Do you know how charity retail stores can introduce the world of digital to their business in a way that benefits them? Read on to find out what we think!


Use social media to gain support

Charity stores have to work harder than ever to stay ahead, so that customers are still interested in coming to the store. In a economic climate that is now dominated by online stores, they have started to catch up.

The aim of a charity shop is to get people to come in and spend money, so that there can be an increase in donations. This is where social media can be a fantastic platform to make this happen. You can do this by posting on Facebook or Twitter that you need donations, or that you need volunteers. It’s also a good place to advertise things that you have in store that you think people would be interested in buying.

People who have used social media to advertise and promote their stores have seen a positive increase in donations and visitors to the shop.

Get inspiration and ideas from people online

Recently, we have seen a number of growing online trends that have been happening in the name of charity. Just last year, we had the #nomakeupselfie which was when women from all over took a picture of themselves with no makeup on, uploaded it to social media and then donated money to charity. This in returned spurned a lot more woman into doing the same thing, and amazingly around £8 million pound was raised for cancer research in just 6 days.

This shows what a brilliant impact that the online world can have, and how it can make a difference. We suggest asking for suggestions on fundraising ideas online, you could find an idea that you hadn’t even thought of.

Interacting with the people online who care about your charity, and inviting them to get involved, helps you set up lasting relationships with people who are likely then to bring in more donations to your store.

Gadgets everywhere

Sell products online

Your store is important, and we are in no way suggesting that this should replace that. In fact, having an online store alongside your shop can help boost sales inside the shop. With more people staying at home and looking online for stuff these days, you would benefit from having a website that people can view. Whether you choose to sell stuff on here, or just advertise what you have in store, is totally up to you. This is harder when you are a shop that is selling single items, but there is definitely a way to implement an online system  – especially for vintage items.

Embrace technology in your store

Dealing with lots of pieces of paper is a thing of the past, and it’s important that charity retail shops adopt the more modern technology options. By using a high quality and up to date retail system, you will be able to generate more business in your store. These systems are easy to use, and will help you keep track of your stock without having to worry about writing it all down.

Designer modern home office desk with laptop

We hope that this post has given you some insight into the ever growing digital and online world, and helped you see how charity retail shops can really benefit from these changes.

Please contact us if you are interesting in investing in one of our charity retail systems, or if you have any questions. You can call us on 01204 706 000 and a member of staff will be happy to help you out.


Some people love to shop; it’s their natural state. They adore spending hours casually making their way down the main street, diving into small side shops and wading through the crowds to get to the high street stores. This particular species of human being loves to wade through a clothes rack, digging through piles of shirts and trousers, searching for the very best value for money.

The other species of human being is known as the non-shopper. These people will shop when forced to do so, but prefer to steer clear of the stores as much as possible. When they do shop – and trust us they do – they prefer looking through racks and hangers they can easily see. Digging through a jumble sale of clothes isn’t their idea of fun and, in order to entice and please these reluctant shoppers you need to look at how you lay out your charity shop.

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Charity shops have a name for themselves as being a bit of a jumble sale. With t-shirts thrown in with skirts and dresses hung up alongside coats, it can become a bit of a chore having to dig through the mass of donated clothing.

From using a specialised charity EPoS system to designing window displays and clothes organisation, here are a couple of tips to help you bring in the buyers!

Rack Organisation

It’s hard to find what you want when you shop; some people go into a store with a very specific item of clothing in mind and never truly find it while others walk into a shop and haven’t a clue what they’re looking for.

If a rack is too crowded and full of everything in the store, certain items may get lost in the frenzy, pushed to the back or sandwiched between two bulky items never to see the light of day again. Organising your racks is imperative when trying to sell your donated goods. After all, if they can’t be seen then they won’t be bought.

  • Clearly indicate which clothes are for women and which are for men.


  • Separate your clothes into groups e.g. dresses, t-shirts, jumpers etc

If you want to, you can also make it easier for your shoppers by organising your clothes into size order.


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De-clutter Your Shop Floor

Health and Safety love a good ol’ rant, so of course you need to make sure that you don’t have stacks of books lined up in front of the fire escape, lining the staircase or framing a doorway. This is a little bit of common sense though, what we really mean is not to over-fill your shop floor.

Some people will love shimmying between clothes rails and boxes full of children’s toys, but this can sometimes seem too confusing and can put people off searching for good buys. Section off areas of your shop for your different items, such as books, toys, jewellery, clothes, shoes, ornaments and so on.

Another option is to keep some of your goods in the back room and replace a bought item with them.


Pile of clothes

Window Display

Bringing customers into your charity shop is your main aim. Some people will quite happily wonder in of their own accord, while others will need a bit more persuading. Your window display will be your selling point.

  • Neatly display outfits that work well together alongside accessories you may have in your store.


  • Use different levels in order to capture the eye. Keeping your entire window display on the same level can seem boring and will more than likely not capture a tired shoppers attention as they trawl the main street

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Now that your shop is organised and you can see where you’re standing, you’ll want your customers’ great experience to continue from the moment they enter your charity shop to when they come to the checkout. Your charity EPoS system can help you out here too. Our charity Full Scan Mode (FSM) is both employer and volunteer friendly, making it easier for you to use and keep track of your stock. You can contact us on 01204 706 000 to find out more about our EPoS systems as well as getting in contact with our experienced support team if you have any questions about your system.

Big name and designer brands are renowned for their use of quality materials and timeless designs. They are things that fashion lovers aspire to and covet, for most of us though, the sheer prices that they demand puts them out of reach.

This may be about to change though with a recent trend that has come to light in the form of boutique charity shops.

What are Boutique Charity Shops?

The premise of these boutique charity shops is pretty simple, pick the best of your donated items and bring them together in one place. Names such as Prada, Dolce and Gabbana, Lou Boutin and many more are available in these stores thanks to some presumably very generous donators.

Like a traditional charity shop though, these items are available at drastically marked down prices and while they may not be just a couple of quid they are far more affordable than when new. Luckily enough, our charity retail systems don’t have an upper limit and are more than able to cope.

Luxury Straw Hat 1

Where is the Nearest One?

Oxfam has recently announced that it is opening a number of Oxfam boutique charity shops across the country and maybe even in a high street near you.

Oxfam is not the only one wise to this idea though and independent boutique charity shops are popping up all over the country such as this one in Birmingham.

Will They Last?

As with the future of any business that relies on donations, only time will tell how these boutique shops last. Given the right donations from the right fashion shoppers though and these shops have the potential to do incredibly well for both shopper and charities.

If you are a lover of fashion and have noticed a boutique shop opening near you then be sure to give it a visit for some great bargains. Oh and if you are considering converting your existing charity shop into a boutique or even starting up fresh then don’t hesitate to contact us for all your retail system needs.