Bingara Community Op Shop – AGM report
25th October 2021
The seed was sown for the Op Shop by holding an initial community meeting at the Uniting Church Hall on the 15th November 2020. An executive was formed, a general discussion was had on the philosophy of the group, a vote was taken concerning the venue, and a decision was made to hold a Monster Garage Sale at the Wiseman Crowley Hall in December.
The group was keen to have the shop in the main street. This started a difficult search for suitable premises which had an appropriate rent.
The Monster Garage Sale was held in December and was a wonderful success. Two thousand dollars was raised from the sale and, as well, a thousand dollars was made from the raffle. The money from the sale and raffle allowed us to set up our shop at 25 Maitland Street.
We started paying rent of 440 dollars per month in mid-January and opened on February 22nd. An event was held in our yard where volunteers spoke of their experiences in our group and Faye Macartney cut the cake and officially opened The Bingara Community Op Shop. The weeks in January and February were very busy as volunteers painted fixtures, repaired and painted the building, and the garden in the back yard was started to be developed. The Living Classroom set up plants behind the shop for us to sell for them.
We became a 355 committee of the local council. As such the council pays for our insurance, music licence and kindly paid our electricity bill for the first six months.
A memorandum of understanding was drawn up with the Salvation Army and this declared support from their Tamworth depot as well as access to the fixtures and stored bags of items in their three sheds in Bingara. The Uniting Church of Inverell supported us through their link program and therefore we are able to use the Church Hall as our sorting and storage space. Lynne works with a team of currently nine volunteers in that area. The Anglican Church has also been supportive and generous as we have been welcomed to use the Wiseman Crowley Hall when we need it. The Bingara Community also needs acknowledgment and appreciation, as without their support the project could never have progressed.
The community quickly developed a positive attitude to our work. Donations were accepted from the third week of January. Some locals have asked us to clear the furniture from homes that had been sold and this furniture is sold at the Uniting Church Hall (aka the Engine Room).
The shop has now become a gathering hub for many people of the town. We focus on having a cheerful disposition for all our customers, cheap prices, a bright and lively ambience, and the presentation of good quality items.
We have held several events in our backyard.
- The Grazing on the Gwydir gave us the opportunity to display and sell special items on tables under marquees in the yard.
- During the Orange festival we provided a rest area as well as pumpkin soup, tea and coffee and Mash’s famous caramel tarts. The school children also painted jeans and we displayed them during this time.
- The drawing of our Mothers’ Day raffle was accompanied by roasting marshmallows on the chiminea fire.
- The planned events for the RV Rally, the Pulse Festival, Wattle Day and The Flower Show have all been put on hold until a Covid freer 2022.
- We have held one garage sale in the grounds of the Uniting Church hall, one at the Wiseman Crowley hall and a mini one dollar sale in the yard of the shop.
To allow these events to occur with ease we have bought our own marquees, tables, and chairs.
Despite one month of lockdown, we have been able to donate the following money amounts to eight organisations within the community.
- The Public School $2000
- The infant School $500
- The Public Library $3000
- Country Comfort $2000
- The CWA $2000
- Touriandi $1000
- The Preschool $2000
- The Hospital $1000
Our Mission Statement states:-
- Our shop is a place of welcome and support
- It is affordable for all using the principles of reduce, recycle and repurpose
- It is run for the community by the community.
Using the principles of the Mission Statement we will continue to develop and broaden the scope of our Op Shop. We are embarking on repurposing items that we are unable to sell and so using the creativity of our volunteers.
We are also developing a connection with the town of Tingha. We have been able to gift some of our excess goods to assist Tingha in setting up an op shop in their town. A small group of our volunteers visited Tingha on the 12th October and was able to join in their Community morning tea and lunch.
A Popup Op Shop was set up in Augathella in June, using some excess of our clothing, and the resulting cash was gifted to their Progress Association.
From now until Christmas, we are planning for the following events.
- Night trading will start on November the 5th. We plan to coordinate with other businesses in the town.
- A Pop-up Op Shop will be our stall at the town Christmas markets.
- We are going to set up a ‘dementia Café’, but it will have an inclusive and catchy name, to provide a place for carers and clients to come for morning tea and shopping.
- Monthly Sunday trading is also on the cards.
- Re purposing will continue so creating Christmas items for sale.
- An evening gathering on 15th of November will celebrate twelve months since our very first meeting.
- On 17th December we will hold a Christmas celebration with night trading at the shop.
Throughout the year we have been keen to apply for grants which would assist our shop to be more comfortable for our volunteers as well as our customers.
The Tackling Tough Times application was said to be excellent but as we didn’t own the building the grant could not be given to us.
We applied for a local Business Grant. As we have a community focus rather than straight-out business intentions, we were also not successful.
We also applied to the Men’s Shed to see if we could collaborate and support each other. We were keen to use part of their building for our repurposing shed. Our request was declined.
Recently, we asked the Council if they could assist us in purchasing the Op Shop building as we are aware that it is for sale and we wish to secure our future. Unfortunately, they were not in a position to help.
Despite our lack of success in these applications, we will continue to search for grant assistance.
One very successful and useful venture was when nine of our volunteers attended a Food Handling course at the local community campus. It was very informative and gave us the confidence to serve food safely at our shop.
We also successfully market our business on social media.
We acknowledge that our success relies on the generosity of the Bingara people, the enthusiasm and vibrant ideas of our volunteers, and the continuing support of the public.
I wish to sincerely thank the volunteers, of which we have over thirty, and the community for their exceptional support in our first eight months of operation. It has been a busy but exciting time for the Bingara Community Op Shop.
President 2021 The Bingara Community Op Shop