A cave of treasures at the Retail Outlet in Pampisford

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Shop manager standing behind the till and looking at the camera

Mark Bloom, Shop Manager at our newest retail site – the Retail Outlet in Sawston, joined the team in September 2023 and is loving his new role. The Retail Outlet is located in the same area as our Retail Hub, at Eastern Counties Leather Industrial Estate in Pampisford (next to Sawston, just outside Cambridge). It is one of the Charity’s seven retail stores which include shops in Burleigh Street, Mill Road, Regent Street, Cottenham and Great Shelford.

Mark has noticed that working in a charity shop is not only about clothes or bric-a-brac but memories and emotions. He enjoys working for the Charity and shared that one of the best things in the role is meeting the customers:

“Such a diverse group of people visit the shop. Having a chat and a laugh with them is brilliant – sometimes I need to be a shoulder to cry on, and other times just a smiling face as they come in.”

Mark is also passionate about preventing things from ending up in landfill. The Retail Outlet is the last point of rescue for items that have been donated to the Charity. Most of the items that are for sale here have been on the shelves of, at least one of our shops before that. The Retail Outlet is the customers’ last chance to purchase the items, at bargain prices, before they are recycled.

Mark continued to explain that charity shops are here to show that one item has more than one life:

“You can pass an item on along the generations. Whatever people have got in their own collections at home can end up being donated here and someone else will want it in their home for their children or grandchildren so that they can enjoy it and get their own nostalgia stories going.”

“We had a classic Sindy horse – the English version of Barbie – in the shop. It was a great item to find in one of the boxes! We priced it up competitively and then someone came in and saw it, saying ‘I remember having one of those when I was a small girl!’. She bought it and was going to give it to her granddaughter. That was quite nice.”

Mark studied Marine Biology at University, before his career in the army as an Electronic Warfare Operator. In his spare time, he is an archery coach. Mark shared his motivation to join the Charity:

“I got to the point where my own business was successfully running itself most of the time. The staff are doing all the work for me now, so I was getting a little bit bored and decided I wanted to do something good. So I started looking for charity shop jobs. This one came up and I read about Arthur Rank Hospice Charity and it seemed like a very good cause. I applied for the job and here I am!”

Mark would like more people to know about the Retail Outlet. He encourages all the customers to tell their friends about the shop and invites all bargain hunters to visit – you never know what treasures you will find!

You can visit the Retail Outlet and the Retail Hub at Eastern Counties Leather Industrial Estate, London Road, Pampisford, CB22 3EE. Please check the opening times of all of our  shops here on our website: arhc.org.uk/shops