Sparkling Gems and Op Shop Treasures

Getting to know our staff - FIONA DODDS, RETAIL MANAGER

Entering Shop On Carroll in Dunedin, you’ll encounter an abundance of sparkling treasure. Tables piled high with fine china, crockery dripping with retro necklaces, glinting crystal decanters, and vintage toys peeking out from beneath delicately embroidered linens.

Down the back of the shop, a large collection of retro buttons and bundles of lace whisper glimpses of a time gone by. In between are racks and rows filled with vintage and retro garments, all carefully selected and displayed.

Behind the counter, a small doorway leads to an office under the stairs where you’ll spot manager Fiona Dodds keeping track of the comings and goings of customers, staff, and volunteers. Some of the donated wares need to be researched and Fiona is busy on the computer checking out their value. Donors, as well as customers to the store, are respected by valuing their donations fairly.

Fiona is a petite but fizzing bundle of black-clad energy and ideas who first opened PSO’s former shop in Mosgiel. Her background, as a child adopted from South Korea by British parents then living in Hong Kong, drove her to want to help other people in need. “I became team leader of Shop On Taieri, then eventually manager of Shop on Carroll and Op Shop on St Andrew”.

Fiona is also excited about the growth of the online shop, which attracts customers from all over NZ, Australia, the US, and Europe.

At the back of the building is the cavernous warehouse, and this is where staff and volunteers sort and store donated goods. Some items are bound for Shop on Carroll, others for its thrifty sister, Op Shop on St Andrew, and some will wait quietly in storage for special themed sales like Vintage Month.

Fiona says: “I’m so grateful for our hardworking staff and over 70 volunteers who offer their time in the shops or in our busy warehouse.” This is also where donated goods are lovingly stored and sorted by season, theme or colour, then rolled out as new stock all the time, so the look and vibe of the shops is constantly changing.

Fiona points out that there are no “first in, first served” perks for volunteers at either of the shops, or in the warehouse! “Our volunteers are rewarded by working in areas that interest them personally – vintage books for example, or fashion and fabrics, or getting retail experience while serving customers and managing sales at the till.”

“It’s a wonderful world here at the shops and we love to see customers find that essential or special item! We are also incredibly grateful for our donors, who enable all of this to happen.”

Profits from Shop on Carroll and Op Shop on St Andrew are directed back to our Family Works services, such as the Family Works Foodbank and Buddy Programme. Both our shops are vital pieces of the financial sustainability puzzle for PSO as a charity, as well as knitting our local Dunedin community together, and keeping gently used clothing and retro gems out of landfill.

Winter People magazine 2021

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