By: / Charity Shops, News / Comments Off on THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO OPENING A CHARITY SHOP (PART 1)

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.