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Chris Richardson wants to double her 11-strong crew of volunteers at the Ngātea Hato Hone St John retail store. Photo: KELLEY TANTAU

Stop, shop, and support St John store

Chris Richardson knows the thrill of a good op shop find.
As a 20-something at Otago University, she was told to take an empty bag to ​​the Waimate op shop – which was known as a treasure trove of secondhand items.
“I went down and filled my pack for $8,” she said. “They had such good clothes – I even had winklepicker shoes.”
Now, Chris is surrounded by flattering fashions, vintage footwear, collectibles and curios, and other items befitting of the charity store she’s been managing since April.
“If people volunteered at an op shop – seeing the waste and the option to recycle – I think they would start to look at op shops as an actual means of purchasing goods.”
Chris became the manager of the Ngātea Hato Hone St John retail store around six months ago.
She said while a lot of charity shops across the country have had to put a hold on accepting donations, the Ngātea store remained open to receiving donations of good quality, saleable items.
“The volume of donations is overwhelming at the moment, and you do worry that the balance is not there,” she said.
“There are a lot of people in need within the community, but I don’t think the percentage of people choosing to purchase from op shops is high enough yet.
“We have our ongoing committed opshoppers, but I would really like to see a larger target audience.”
Chris also has a goal to double the amount of volunteers helping out at the River Rd site.
There are 11 and all are female.
“I would like a driver and an off-sider – it doesn’t have to be a man, but someone that can help us bring furniture in because at the moment, I don’t have a truck, we rely on people dropping things off, and then it’s up to me and one of the younger girls to shift it all around,” she said.
“The only benefit is that I don’t have to pay for gym fees.”
Ninety per cent of the funds from everything sold at the store goes back into helping the local community, including contributing to the upgrade of the Kaiaua First Response Station; paying for a number of defibrillators around the area; funding mental health first aid courses; and operating a free health shuttle service.
Chris said the store also paid it forward by supplying excess goods to Tonga.
Looking ahead, she would love to see more people become involved with St John and the retail store.
“When you have a full team, you have camaraderie and socialisation, and you miss that with just a skeleton crew because you’re all so busy working,” she said, “but many hands make light work.”
DETAILS: If you want to get involved, contact Chris at