In a time where socially conscious shopping is on trend and on the increase, one Renfrewshire charity applied fresh thinking to the sale of pre-loved products with the support of CEIS.
Paisley-based RAMH is a third sector organisation which promotes recovery from mental ill-health and empowers local people to live independent, fulfilled lives. Alongside providing a range of services across west central Scotland RAMH also runs a Reuse Superstore..
The Reuse Superstore not only stocks and sells good quality furniture, electrical appliances, household goods and clothing, but it sub-lets retail concessions to other reuse organisations, and provides employability opportunities for the very people RAMH were set up to support.
The organisation knew that the superstore could be more successful and raise more income but they lacked the enterprise expertise to expand. RAMH’S CEO Stephen McLellan knew that external help would be invaluable in the growth process, “It’s very easy to become myopic when you are so involved with a project, but working with CEIS advisor Roy Crosby allowed us to take a step back from the business – having an external pair of eyes was very helpful.”
Initial tasks included identifying strategies to increase the supply of donations for re-sale and the rolling out the service on a ‘managed’ basis to the more affluent areas of Renfrewshire. Roy also supported RAMH to undertake an analysis of 5 similar reuse organisations operating across Scotland, an exercise which identified the potential services RAMH could ‘add’ to its existing ‘menu’ of services.
This strategic approach provided RAMH with new learning, new analytical skills, and crucially new ways of thinking about how to reach pre-defined enterprise objectives. CEO Stephen McLellan says new skills were critical in the process, as was an excellent understanding.
“We now have a better idea of a strategy, and how that fits within our core role, which is fundamentally a mental health charity. Our team are experts in the field of mental health, but we didn’t know much about social enterprise. Roy had a commercial background but also understands charities and how we work - it was crucial that any enterprise activities fitted with our purpose and our values.”
RAMH’s new skills even helped them walk away from a possible acquisition when it became clear that the potential property liabilities involved in the deal were just too risky. According to RAMH CEO Stephen McLellan CEIS’s support was even more important at that time, “Working with CEIS is interesting because they’ll always help you to get to the answer – it may not be the answer you were expecting or even the one you want, but that honesty is crucial for charities like us.”
These days RAMH is delivering its growth plan with ongoing CEIS advice and assistance. Thanks to CEIS involvement, RAMH has been invited to be part of a new enterprise hub being planned for Barrhead. It’s also hoped that a new high street shop front in Johnstone will provide increased sales and donations, so bargain hunters better hot-foot it along to the best reuse retailer in town!
Contact The Reuse Superstore / Facebook / firstname.lastname@example.org / Tel: 0141 237 7600