Retail in Asia

In People

New careers in retail fostered in nearly-new havens

While retail as a field is facing tough times, there is a degree to which op shops are exempt, according to Richard Wood, the Red Cross’ head of retail. "If you asked someone 10 years ago if they shopped at a charity shop or op shop, few people would have admitted they do. Today, it’s a badge of honour for some people," he says.

No doubt those in charge of the retail arm of The Salvation Army would agree. Here, about 2000 permanent and casual employees and 5000 volunteers across 450 stores help the stores earn AUD30 million a year for the organisation.

Jeff McCartney, area manager for The Salvation Army’s Eastern Sydney stores, says volunteers are also key to their stores running successfully: some simply want to contribute or connect with community, while others are there meeting work-for-the-dole or community service requirements. Therefore it takes a special kind of person to work as an op shop store manager (a paid role).