I'm back and I'm glad to report my absence wasn't anything to do with hospital visits for a change! In the absence of interesting photos about the goings on of the last few weeks I've used a recent picture of Ted and Rufus who have been boxed and are finally making their way up into the attic.
Note that I intentionally only use the names Ted and Rufus despite the fact there are two teds. Mothers everywhere will be familiar with 'The Chosen One' which in J's case was this £1 teddy from IKEA. I went back at a later date and purchased another just in case the special Ted was lost or left behind somewhere. There were, however, obstacles to overcome with the stand in. For a start he was honey coloured compared to the pale and interesting shade of the original Ted. Ella, who was in on this conspiracy, decided we would say he's been away on holiday and now he is... 'Suntan Ted' yay! In the event we never had to produce Suntan Ted. Phew.
Rufus, on the other hand, came to live with us when he got dropped into a shopping trolley by the cunning nearly two year old Jake. I saw him out of the corner of my eye and planned to drop the dog straight back where he came from before checking out, hoping that he'd be long forgotten. Never underestimate the brain and memory of a nearly two year old is all I can say. Thence followed years of taking Ted and Rufus e-v-e-r-y-w-h-e-r-e!! Most heartbreakingly to stay with his Dad on occasion but let's not go there.
I should add here that they weren't recently relegated to the box. That was actually some time ago. They weren't allowed to leave the room though, that is a recent thing. At nearly six feet tall I've had to teach J it's time to let go! I guess I have to learn the same lesson. If there's one thing motherhood has taught me it's that it's not so much to do with looking after and nurturing, it's being there while, bit by bit, you actually let go.
With letting go in mind I have at last had proper thoughts about becoming more than just a housewife, mother, chief dog walker, chief dog bather, one woman Chinese laundry...etc. I had fun being a graphic designer before the children were born and for a little while afterwards. I bought and restored and sold on, both antiques and tatty old furniture, for quite a long time. Now it's time to do something less taxing and less risky perhaps. A quick glance through job websites told me that I don't really have any up to date skills that I can market. I can only capitalise on the ones I already have. Being able to talk to people on the telephone is not one of them which does seem to rule out a few things. (Type talk, or type relay or whatever they've renamed it will always be a rubbish substitute, for me anyway).
So to cut a long story short, and still wanting very much to work in an environment with tatty old things :-) I've been setting up and now volunteering for a new charity shop! So far I think the setting up was more fun than the day to day running but it's had it's funny moments. The local community has it's fair share of colourful characters.
I've been able to put to use the knowledge I've gained from a decade or so of attending and buying from auctions. I know my Moorcroft from my Meakin! We don't get much of the former but we've got piles of the latter. I've been able to price things according to current values which has gained us a few more pennies than they would have got. I've used my arty flair to design the window displays. The china and glass window, which is the smaller of the two, gets lots of comments. I've also discovered the power of the window display for selling. We sell so much of what is in the window. When I sold my furniture it was a space within an antiques centre so the whole pitch was my window so to speak.
The larger window is more clothing and household. I aim for a family appeal. So we have a male grouping to one end; a male mannequin, our delightful collection of old radios (they come in just as fast as they fly out), manly things like messenger bags, crime books, taps, drumsticks (yes really). The female side has clothes, shoes, bags, mills and boon (sell like hot cakes believe it or not!) and the central area is dedicated to our best toys and cuddly toys. I'm hoping we can get some child mannequins eventually.
Other skills I've had to brush up on; how to collapse a pram or pushchair in order to demonstrate it to potential buyers! I haven't lost a finger yet. How to put up a travel cot (when the last time you had to do that was at least 13 years ago). Mostly though it's how to stop people stealing things which has been the really disappointing side of it. Just recently we had a price sticker swapping expert. It only came to light after we were discussing sales and an antique jug had been sold for £2.50 which is not what I priced it at all. On inspection we discovered a smaller jug was missing it's £2.50 price sticker. We have a good description of the man and surprisingly he was quite smartly dressed.
I could write a whole book on the goings on behind the scenes in a charity shop. It's been a real eye opener in many ways. I had never imagined how hard it was to get volunteers who are capable of putting clean clothing on hangers with the right size toggle. Not rocket science is it? It is for the ones we've had apply. Most want to volunteer so that they can get jobseekers allowance without having to travel into town or do other mind numbingly boring schemes like make greetings cards. They see the shop as an easy option.
Just don't get me started on the quality of the donations. Especially if you're eating or about to eat. I could put you off your food quite easily.
The perks? There aren't many. A staff discount of 50%. Socialising with the local community which include drunks, drug addicts, neglected filthy children, lonely old people (my favourite kind of customer). Getting home before the rush hour is a good thing. Collapsing in a heap feeling you've provided a useful, vital service for the community, not to mention the charity, which is Relate by the way.
In the meantime, all crochet has been on hold. Quite a bit of the housework has been on hold. On the plus side carpet and surfaces have been appearing where I've taken stuff in to donate! My perfect job!
Christmas is creeping up on me! Can't wait until 1st December though, I've got my Christmas window all planned! Must remember to take a photo for my blog!