By Tony Thomas, Rotary Club of Central Melbourne
Lorraine (Lorry) Rowe thought she had retired from retail management six years ago, having set up and run two very successful Op Shops at Nambour on the Sunshine Coast.
But being a Rotarian with the passion to help others, she put out an offer to her own Werribee RC to look at an op shop venture perhaps at a later date.
In the meantime Lorry did some homework, which included visiting the Rotary Club of Flemington Op Shop, in Racecourse Rd, Flemington. Her know-how and enthusiasm grew, and all this came to the attention of Allan Bruno of Flemington Rotary Club.
Lorry is now manager of the Flemington Rotary Fit 4 Use Store in Railway Ave, Werribee.
On August 6th she and her team celebrated the success of the store with a 1ST Birthday gathering of Rotarians, Past District Governor Neville John, supporters, customers and friends. There was a Half Price Sale for the visitors, offering clothing, bric-a-brac, books and furniture.
The quality of items offered for sale is of top quality. The furniture is mostly collected and vetted by Allan Bruno, assuring the store has good pieces for resale. Donations flow in freely from public well-wishers and Rotarians from all over.
Bunnings Warehouse at Hoppers Crossing played a key role in supplying shop fittings to set up the store. They also donated paint plus some important shop fixtures. In addition Allan Bruno has provided up-market clothing racks.
There can be a lot of sales preparation, including the washing of china and airing of clothes, sorting and ironing. “If you wouldn’t wear an item yourself, don’t expect others to,” Lorry says. There are official restrictions regarding certain items, including prams, mattresses, car seats, cots and helmets. Electrical items requires test tagging, which is done by Allan Bruno. The store is often mis-used as a dumping facility by some people. The ‘throw outs’ comprise dirty and non-useable items and sometimes fill a medium size skip each week. Clothes and shoes that are considered wearable but not up to standard are sent to a commercial recycler who pays $2.50 per kg for them. The rubbish skip costs $25 each week, an added cost when it is full of other people’s rubbish. Sometimes friends give the store unused Council waste vouchers, which helps in disposing of larger items which are unusable or dumped at the door.
Lorry and the team pride themselves on friendly smiles and cheery chat. Many customers just keep returning for a cuppa and a chin-wag.
Lorry is personally supporting two charities, which are helping children in the Philippines. Helping Children Smile Inc. is based in Nambour on the Sunshine Coast in Qld. It is a small, not-for-profit organisation that has various fund-raising activi-ties, including its Op Shop, which was established by Lorry in 2002. This shop is a major contributor towards the funds raised to send a team of local and international doctors and nurses to the Philippines. Each year when they arrive they perform operations free of charge for Filippino children with cleft lip and palate. They are an amazing group of medical personal who give their time and experience during their holidays each year, to put smiles on the faces of so many children.
(For more information visit the website: http://helpingchildrensmile.org.au/) Lorry’s other charity is the Bahay Ni San Jose Orphanage at Nueva Ecija in the Philippines which she visits each year, bringing Rotary support. These orphan children are very dear to her heart. #