Hospice hospitality

It’s more a social than a shopping experience to visit the little Hospice shop in Iffley street, around the corner from the OK in what is grandly called the Henley Shopping Centre.

The Little Shop … Around the Corner, a Wide Horizon Hospice Charity Shop, is manned daily by volunteers, a roster of more than 20 old and new Henleyites headed by Gail Heasley.

Of course, it’s always fun to browse and you never know what you will find. As people clear out and downsize unexpected treasures end up on Hospice shelves. My daughter, an avid jigsaw fan, pounced on a box of puzzles dumped from a long-hoarded collection. They may be a little elderly, but the pictures are pretty, and the pieces are all there. At R10 or R20 a box, you can’t lose.

In my experience it always offers a warm welcome and a chance to catch up on some local gossip. “It’s even better than the hairdresser if you’re feeling blue,” one shopper remarked, settling down cosily in a chair by the heater.

Shopper browse in Henley’s hospice shop

The prices are all rock-bottom, unbelievably so at times, so I was surprised to learn the shop is doing very well, more than paying its way and racking up sizeable monthly profits for a good cause. Of course, the stock is all donated and the labour is free.

The shop has quite a selection of good quality second-hand clothing for men, women and children, ranging in price from R10. I took home a beautiful designer evening dress for only R50. Donated clothing that is past its best is handed on to the Lions for their jumble sale; in return the better items the Lions collect end up in the Hospice shop. It’s a win-win all round.

The shop also does a service for the local community, particularly workers commuting to and from the mine and the farms. There are usually several customers waiting when it opens at 07:30, I was told, and anything in the clothing or shoe line which is good value is snapped up almost immediately.

Some of the volunteers, with organiser Gail Heasley on the right.

Another busy time is the afternoon when the workmen pop in to buy for their wives and families on their way home. The shop usually closes around 16:00 and, depending on the volunteers, may open for an hour or two on Saturday mornings. It’s a good venue, central and on the pedestrian and bus routes.

Clothing is the main line, but you’ll also find jewellery, bags, cushions, paintings, bric-a-brac, CDs, the odd household item, anything and everything, and of course it’s different every time you call. On my last visit one Tuesday morning an antiques dealer was browsing, taking away a few choice items which will probably get a 100 or 200 percent mark-up.

In a box of soft toys, I found a vintage Eeyore with a detachable tail matched with a genuine-looking Winnie the Pooh, both in good condition and delightful for the right child or collector.

There are stories here we will probably never know, which is, of course, part of the charm. The rest is in the convivial chat as the volunteers bustle around the shop, rearranging the tasteful displays or pointing out goodies you may have missed.

So, if the cold days are getting you down, cruise around the corner the next time you stop for bread and milk at the mini-mart and visit the little shop at the end of the row. If nothing else, you’ll find a warm welcome.

See Henley Hoopoe at www.henley-on-klip.co.za