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LETS GET DOWN TO BUSINESS.

Question :
Hi there, thank you to the experts for sharing your time, it is appreciated so much.I am the manager of a high end Charity retail store in Napier- we sell most items you would find in recycle shops, however the majority of our sales come from pre-loved designer/ NZ made fashion. We rely on volunteers to help run our store., the majority of whom are in the most vulnerable age group if they contracted the Covid virus. Our charity has been serving the HB community for over 30 years & provides counselling, parenting courses, budgeting advice, childcare and social services to 2500 vulnerable families.Our retail store was set up 2 years ago and is our main income stream to support our services, we have done incredibly well and prior to the shutdown. We do get some govt funding but rely on the shop income and associated events to make up the shortfall. We have had to cancel 3 events as a result of the shutdown and our store will not be able to reopen for some time- who knows how long that will be ! I am looking at opening an online store using Shopify  to try to get some income but my worry is that the demand on our services will increase with peoples mental health deteriorating during this time , we will end up with more people needing us and less income to support that. Can anyone please help ? Is it appropriate to be asking for help from  businesses/ sponsorship at a time when everyone else is struggling  ? Are there any other ideas on fundraising ? When we come out o this all charities will be facing the same problems. Thank you for your time. 

Question submitted 08/04/20 @ 10:04am
Industry: Fashion
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  • Kia ora Family Centre,
    Firstly, well done for creating such an important charity. It is likely that a demand for your services will increase. Now is the time to pivot your retail shop online. See if any of your volunteers are computer savvy and can start creating an online shop for you from home so it will be ready to go when we come out of lockdown. If you have any photos of your items, upload them, you could even look into pre-orders, or vouchers. Tell your story through social media and ask your local paper to run a feature. Now is the time to engage with your community and your customers. Can you run any of your courses online? If so, could you engage with other customers that would be happy to pay for the service? Perhaps a customer could pay for themselves and for a vulnerable family. Yes, ask businesses for sponsorship, you could start with some of the larger businesses that are not struggling.
    Take care and keep reaching out.

    Totally agree with Chloe. The need for your services will increase. There are lots of people that do want to help in the communities. Perhaps you could reach out on local Facebook groups in Napier and in the Hawkes Bay (ie Napier News or Napier Community News and Views and a few others). It is likely that businesses may struggle with cash support right now and for some time to come, and may be more willing to offer support in kind, such as tech services or digital marketing or PR. Perhaps reach out to the businesses that have the specific skills you need to pivot to online and to increase your social media presence and general awareness. Suspect there will be a lot of people that have been cleaning out their closets during their time at home, so getting supply may not be an issue! You may need to engage with this group to ask them to hold their clothes until lock down ends, and perhaps you can create a database of willing donors that you can engage with after lock down. Best wishes, great initiative and great you reached out.

    Thank you Chloe & Leslie for you advice, I am very grateful and will definately follow up with your ideas.

    I think your idea of opening a Shopify store is a great one! People love shopping online, especially second hand. Do you have an Instagram account that you can post items on and use relevant HASHTAGS so customers can find you? I am a stylist and shop at lots of second hand stores via Instagram. Use the tag #circularfashion and check out what the likes of ‘Hattie’s Wardrobe Green’ and ‘welcomeback_slowfashion’ are doing. Another great NZ charity doing this well is ‘everlasting_recyclingwithlove’. There is a want for your product out there and if you push the charity element people will be even more keen to support you. Best wishes!

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