Words by Rosie Cattrell
Saying goodbye to a loved one is surely one of the most difficult things for us to overcome, but one thing we can all hope for is that there is a hand for everyone to hold when the time comes. For over four decades, Cornwall Hospice Care has provided that hand here in the south west, and has stood tall as a charity that many depend upon for the hardest of times. Together with the local community, the charity provides compassionate, specialised end-of-life care for patients, families and carers to ensure that everyday matters to those whose lives the team touch.
Offering inpatient care at Mount Edgcumbe and St Julia’s hospices, Lymphoedema clinics, community support hubs and bereavement services, it’s thanks to constant support from the Cornish community that these services are free to all who need them. With charity shops stretching across Cornwall from Penzance to Bude and from Perranporth to Looe, not to mention the staff and an army of volunteers, all contributing over £1 million each year, it’s clear that they each play a vital role in funding the care at the two Cornish hospices. While you may well have come across the high-street charity shops, furniture shops and bargain outlets dotted around Cornwall, there is one particular branch of the Cornwall Hospice Care retail collection that you may not yet be aware of.
Cornwall Hospice Care’s very first Retro store was opened in Penryn in 2014, and was the brainchild of the current Retro Falmouth shop manager, Lindsay Taylor, alongside Manager Daisy Jones. Born from a drive to maximise the value of some of the stock the team saw coming into the shops, it seemed about time to try something fun and creative when it came to charity retail. “We were tired of seeing brilliant vintage stock not getting the recognition or the value it deserved,” Lindsay explains, “and so we decided to dedicate trained staff and an entire shop to it! What grew was a constantly changing emporium of vintage and retro stock with creative displays and a brilliantly keen team of volunteers. We were sad to leave our Penryn site when it was sold, but it has allowed us to rebrand and more carefully edit our stock now in Falmouth, and of course, expand into two other locations. It’s been a great success both personally and for the charity.”
Now with Retro high street locations in Falmouth, St Ives and Launceston, there are three exciting new opportunities for the discerning bargain hunter who might be looking for something with a little more history to it, and if you hadn’t realised that the stores were part of the Cornwall Hospice Care network, you’re not the only one! “Our customers have been amazingly supportive,” Lindsay continues. “We receive so many compliments every day about our styling and stock, it’s really wonderful to hear our hard work is so appreciated by our customers. You can never hear ‘but you don’t look like a charity shop’ enough!”
From a 1960s mini dress to a 1920s wooden mechanical till (currently in stock in St Ives!), or perhaps something smaller, like an Observer Book of Birds, or an enamel saucepan, the range really is huge and the only requirement is that it’s old, in good nick, and it makes the team who receive it smile. I myself have visited the Falmouth branch on multiple occasions and have so far come away with a beautiful vintage wicker picnic basket intended as a wedding present, and a 70s crockery collection set to be the star of my dining room table. On speaking with Cornwall Hospice Care’s Marketing and Promotions Manager, Megan Hampton, she lets me in on some of her own finds: “My favourite ever fashion item was a 1920s French sequinned dress; the sequins were so delicate I was afraid to wash it, but it was so beautiful I couldn’t resist! I’ve also found some great vinyl, including several Beatles singles, and some wonderful vintage kids’ books that I’ve saved pages from and framed the illustrations.”
While support for the vital work that the charity carries out is the ultimate goal here, there is also an aim to help us all live a more sustainable life and see things a little differently, as Frazer Hopkins, Head of Retail at Cornwall Hospice Care, explains: “We are, by our very nature, a big recycler of fashion and furniture here in Cornwall as we offer the opportunity for people to both purchase and donate second hand items. Every year we sell over 1 million items, offering each a chance at a second life and potentially diverting from landfill. We are striving for more, with sustainability being recently introduced as one of our charity’s core ambitions, and we are constantly working towards improving our practices in realistic ways. Our Sustainable September campaign was a chance to communicate our commitment with the people of Cornwall and invite them to take part in our Recreate Challenge. Customers were invited to take away unsellable books and fabric and turn them into something new.”
With a particular talent for window displays, especially leading up to Christmas, you may well find yourself drawn into one of Cornwall Hospice Care’s Retro stores should you be wandering the high streets of Falmouth, St Ives or Launceston in the near future. What’s more, by following Retro Falmouth on social media, you’ll be up to date with all the latest news on the fabulous stock expected in store. After all, you never know what treasures you might unearth on your next visit!