A week in the life of…Retail Driver David Buirski
Our retail drivers help keep the tills in our shops ringing. But do we realise just how important they are to the Hospice and exactly what they do?
Not only do they collect new stock and circulate it between our 17 shops, but they also dispose of around 3 TONNES of rubbish a week!
David Buirski is a familiar face to many within NLH. He’s been with us for 14 years and seen our retail business grow from seven to 17 shops. He’s one of a team of three – soon to be four – retail drivers who provide the six-day a week service.
Here dad-of-two David tells us what happens in a typical week of an NLH retail driver.
Keeping it fresh
“Our primary aim is to help the shops keep stock fresh to keep the customers coming back so we pick up new stock from house clearances and also circulate stock between our shops. So if something hasn’t sold within a couple of weeks we’ll take it to another location.
“Once we recruit a fourth driver we’ll be able to operate a seven-day a week service.
“I work Tuesday – Friday. On Tuesday and Friday we collect the rubbish from all the shops and take it to the refuse centres. In all it works out about 3 tonnes a week, which is a huge amount but the shops often get given goods which aren’t in a saleable condition. Some things we give to a recycling company and we earn a little from that but things like chipped china, broken toys or any furniture like cots, beds or furniture without a fire safety label has to be disposed of. Things like child car seats can’t be sold for safety reasons but people still dump them outside our shops. Maybe they’d think twice if they knew it would cost the hospice to dispose of it – £125 a tonne!
“But people do donate some great stuff too. On Wednesday and Thursday I do house collections and as a department we do up to eight house collections a day. I’ve done two already this morning! One from a lady in Southgate who’s mum died with us recently and she wanted to donate some furniture to us.
“I quite enjoy these days. You never know what you might be picking up. Last year a gentleman donated lots of garden pots to us. They were part of his business and he didn’t want them anymore so donated them to us. They raised £25k plus gift aid, so were well worth all the heavy lifting!
“One house clearance generated over £6k in sales. The house was full of amazing furniture including these elaborate coffee tables with alligator legs. We often pick up fur coats which we send to auction as they can’t be sold in the shops and we tend to send more specialist items like oil paintings to auction as well as they are hard to price. I remember one painting with a hole in it selling for £800 at auction. So that was quite a surprise.
“Wednesday is also the day we move stock from shop to shop. If something doesn’t sell we move it on every two weeks so the shops have a good turnover of stock.
“The team also do collections on Monday, Saturday and Sunday as well. During the week we have two volunteers to help with the collections but we need more. It certainly keeps you fit and beats paying for a gym membership!
Pride in the job
“I enjoy the job. I’m the longest serving van driver. Steve left a couple of months ago and he’d been here 13 years. People hold the hospice in high regard. You have a sense of pride working for the Hospice and when we’re doing house collections there’s usually a personal connection for the donor and they feel like they are giving something back.
“But there are times when you refuse to take something because it might be unsalable, broken or unsafe and occasionally people get abusive. Sometimes they just want to get rid of their rubbish without paying for it! I’ve been shouted at and one woman even took my picture and threatened to put it online but she later calmed down, but generally people are very nice.
I live in Barnet and have two children and am a new grandfather to two granddaughters who are nine months and two months old so they keep my wife and me busy. I also enjoy a trip to the theatre and am a keen gardener.”
If you know anyone who may be interested in volunteering with our drivers please contact David or Kenny They need to be personable, have a hands-on approach and physically able to do heavy lifting.