'Ingenuity' of Sidmouth charity shop coach tours celebrated
PUBLISHED: 12:01 31 May 2017
Some traders are facing a slow start to the year, but special coach trips mean business in Sidmouth's charity shops continues to boom.
Day trippers come from across the country to support a good a cause and bag a bargain – and there are reports some tour operators are even handing out printed guides of where to find the stores.
That ‘ingenuity’ has been celebrated by Sidmouth’s tourism champion, who said the visitors undoubtedly also boost the town’s shops, pubs and cafes.
Save the Children shop volunteer Pat Rose said: “All the day trippers want to know is where the toilets are, where they can get a cup of tea and where the charity shops are. They come from all over the country. You see them year after year.”
Her colleague Eileen Pockett said complaints in the town that there are too many charity shops have died down – the total currently stands at 11.
Sidmouth Pets owner James McLean told the Herald he had heard several accounts of printed guides being handed out.
Cancer Research UK shop manager Sarah Batt said: “On Tuesdays and Thursdays, the shop’s booming. It’s really picking up.”
Lesley Kerry, the assistant manager at Marie Curie, said: “It’s common knowledge that people visit for the charity shops and I think it’s a jolly good idea. They make the shop quite a lot busier and I’m sure they bring a lot of custom to the cafes as well.”
WESC social enterprise manager Sharon Green said: “The charity shops are more expensive in Sidmouth than other places because of the location – they target goods depending on the customers. It’s a location where a lot of coaches come for the charity shops.”
Councillor Simon Pollentine, who chairs the town council’s tourism and economy committee, told the Herald: “It’s not something I’m aware of, but it shows the ingenuity of the operators in capitalising on a market.
“Every tourist is welcome and I defy them to go home without buying something from some of our other shops, pubs and cafes.
“High street retailers face many challenges and what is most important is seeing as many premises as possible operating in some role and not being converted away from retail or ‘normal’ high street uses – that’s why we act to protect our primary shopping area.”