Danny Corns had several careers before joined St Richards, among them cabinet maker, furniture restorer, carpet salesman and shop and cafe owner. By the mid 1990s he was working for St Michael’s Hospice in Hereford restructuring their retail business when he heard about a similar job at St Richard’s. Attracted by the challenge, Danny moved to Worcester to manage the existing six hospice shops. He says his first task was to get ‘under the skin of the volunteers’. Once they trusted him, he brought in the changes. Amongst these were the leasing of a huge warehouse for storage and sorting, the creation of new shops and ‘specialist’ shops, and the addition of Gift Aid and online services. His many other roles at St Richards have included decorating, creating menus, baking cakes and playing the part of Father Christmas.
Danny admits that back in the 1990s charity shops looked a bit shabby. Most shop fittings were donated, money was rarely spent on decoration and there were few paid staff. Danny was ‘recruited’ to St Richard’s by Barney Price and Rachel Bucknall who were impressed by a tour he gave of his operation in Hereford. In this first extract, Danny recalls getting the job and then starting to make changes.
One of the most important changes Danny made in his early days was to persuade the governors to take on the lease of an enormous warehouse in Leigh Sinton. As Danny explains in the following extract, St Richard’s was one of the first small charities to take this plunge, but it has enabled them to change the way they manage their shops.
In his interview Danny talks about some of the innovations he’s brought in over the years. Here he talks about changing shoppers’ habits, so instead of going to a charity shop to browse, they go there because they want something specific.
Danny then looked at creating shops which were more like department stores. The first was in Worcester and the second in Malvern. In this final extract, he tells the story of opening the St Swithin’s shop and cafe in the former Lakeland store in Worcester.