Our Preston charity shop manager is celebrating 15 years of working for St Catherine’s – as our city centre bridal boutique and occasion-wear store relaunches following a makeover.
Kath Stead is the manager of our charity shop in Lune Street which, along with the general charity shop, features an occasion and wedding-wear department downstairs.
As the shop relaunches following a facelift carried out to show off the best donations – including bridesmaid and prom dresses, mother-of-the-bride outfits, suits and more – Kath reflects on 15 years in business, and reveals that working in the charity retail industry is ever-changing and exciting.
“I’ve been the manager of the bridal boutique since it opened; it moved to Lune Street five years ago but we’ve had a presence in the city centre for 15 years,” she says. “I’ve met thousands of wonderful volunteers, customers and St Catherine’s supporters – from loyal customers who come in every week, to everyone who has donated items to the hospice.
“I feel very lucky to be the manager of the shop which features the fabulous bridal boutique – we sell gorgeous wedding and bridesmaid dresses as well as veils, tiaras, and shoes. It’s a great feeling to be part of that exciting process, when brides-to-be come in to try on dresses and tell me all about their ideas for the big day.
“Valentine’s Day is a popular time for proposals so I’m looking forward to meeting newly-engaged women and helping them find their perfect dress, for less!”
Kath adds: “One of the things I love about charity retail is that people can support the hospice time and again in various ways – just by shopping with us, people are helping to raise funds at the same time as bagging a bargain. And many people, including newlyweds, donate items back to us afterwards, enabling us to raise further vital funds to help care for people with life-shortening illnesses at the hospice and in their own homes.”
“There’s no need to break the bank when shopping for a wedding or other special occasion – such as a prom or cruise holiday, or a day at the races,” Kath adds. “Our customers look a million dollars without spending a fortune, and we’re delighted to hear that they’re proud of their purchases and enjoy telling their friends all about the store.
“The bridal boutique in particular has been somewhat of a hidden treasure in the past, but it seems that the word is spreading and people are realising that they can shop savvy and find their ideal dress, all whilst doing their bit to support a much-loved local charity. It’s a win-win way of shopping!
“The makeover has given the shop a fresh new look and our customers are really impressed. I feel very privileged to have been on this journey for the last 15 years, experiencing different trends and meeting so many wonderful people. It’s an incredibly exciting time for us at Lune Street as more and more people hear about our lovely little shop, and I’m looking forward to seeing what amazing donations and generous supporters come through our door in the near future.”
See our gallery of some of the beautiful dresses on offer at the shop (photos by Luke Ellis-Craven and Kay Taylor)