With two award wins under their belt, the 2gether team are still brimming with pride. Known by some as the ‘Harrods of charity shops’ and celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, Visit Chislehurst caught up with Clare Herriot (Shop Manager) to find out more.
It may seem like a long time ago for Visit Chislehurst readers, but for Clare, Valentines day has been more than just a date that has been and gone. In the weeks leading up to the romantic day, 2gether was entered for a ‘Local and Loved’ campaign.
Rather than applying strict criteria and a long drawn-out judging process, the responsibility fell on the shoulders of the public. Locals could write reviews for any business that they feel provide a great service and go the extra mile. Open for two weeks and run by a national group called ‘the Best of UK’, a total of 50,000 votes were counted for organisations up and down the country.
Most Loved Business in Bromley and Charity in the UK
2gether scooped the most votes under the Charity category and also the Most Loved Business in Bromley – thanks to locals in and around Chislehurst who shared their support online.
“Winning the two awards is such an achievement. It has been tremendous to read the wonderful comments from all our customers,” says Clare. “I am chuffed and very proud to see how the 2gether shop has developed over the years.”
Donations for 2gether go to support Chislehurst YFC
It has been ten years since the shop opened their doors to support a local youth charity, and they’ve continued to go from strength to strength. All money raised from the donations sold at 2gether go to local youth charity, Chislehurst YFC. This means, their three full-time youth workers can spend more quality time working with young people, rather than spread themselves too thinly trying to raise funds.
Mum of two, Clare lives in Bickley and started volunteering 12 hours a week at the shop when the kids started school. She was offered the role of Manager two years later, and is supported by Sue Smith (Assistant Manager) and a team of 70 volunteers.
“The shop has got busier and busier. Sue and I are continually finding ways to be more organised in the day to day running of the shop,”
If you’ve ever popped in to visit 2gether, you’ll know that every detail is thoughtfully considered to give customers a ‘fabulous and enjoyable shopping experience’. Clare is passionate about running 2gether like any high street business, but with a charity focus.
And it sounds as if there are a whole host of fans too who regularly pop in, that are well known to the team. Drum roll please!
Mrs Cashman who fills her trolley with bargains.
Graham the Postie who seems to know about anything tech.
Carol who props up the counter on a Friday and chats to the team.
Pat who comes in every morning for a coffee.
Peter who used to be a famous boxer and always shows us his knuckles
And Bill who brings in a shiny 50 pence piece every week. He calls it his entrance fee!
Three core values are at the heart of 2gether's success
What then, is the special ingredient that keeps customers coming back, who are clearly very fond of the place? Clare describes three core values essential for running a successful charity shop: Warmly welcome customers, be thankful for donations, taking pride in their presentation, and appreciate your volunteers.
Making Chislehurst a great place to visit
As well as managing 2gether, Clare runs the Visit Chislehurst website, is Group Secretary for the Chislehurst Business Group (CBG) and also a member of the Town team.
Having personally visited all the shops in the High St and Belmont Parade, the group now has 65 members (identified by stickers displayed in their windows). It’s a great place for local businesses to network, support each other and raise funds for the Christmas lights.
And working closely with Alison Stammers (Town Team Chair), they have their heart set on seeing businesses and local groups working together to improve Chislehurst so that it is a great place for residents and visitors.
So what drives Clare?
Goodness knows where Clare gets her energy from, but it is all to do with passion.
“If I’m passionate about something, I usually bubble over with enthusiasm. I can’t help it, and at times to the annoyance of my husband!”
Inspired by an LICC course whose motto is ‘Make a difference where you are’, it describes Clare’s outlook on life. “You only have one life and I want to leave a Clare shaped imprint on this earth in all I do. I want to make a difference in whatever I am doing. So that means giving my all, in all.”
So, if you haven’t already logged off your PC or laptop and running out the door to visit 2gether, in the next few months you can look forward to a host of events including a Bridal Day on 5th April and a Fashion Show on 16th October. The 2gether website has all the details.
If you would like Visit Chislehurst to shine the spotlight on your business or interview a special person in the Chislehurst community, please use our contact form. You can also follow us on facebook and twitter.
Article kindly written by Lorraine Hambleton, Corporate Video and Communications Consultant. Photos by Nick King