The idea for Charity Shop TV was born at about 4.30pm on 12 January 2021 at a meeting of the Wandsworth Oasis media, communications and events subcommittee, which consists of 4 trustees and Chief Executive, Gill Perkins. 

Usually this is a fun, creative hilarious meeting in which the team throw out all sorts of mad ideas to raise money for HIV support and prevention, with drag queens at centre stage more often than not. 95% of Wandsworth Oasis income comes from their shops, which are now all closed. The balance comes from challenges and events – cancelled and closed. Whilst the charity could take advantage of retail support from the Government, it could not apply to most trust funds, as Wandsworth Oasis is a grant giver themselves. They had engaged in some virtual fundraising over the past year, but felt people were tired of Zoom quizzes, wine tastings and online comedy.

At this point, Gill started to suggest a virtual murder mystery when Jason Rosam, who is the founder of Riverside Radio suddenly said: “What about a shopping channel for charity shops? Has anyone done that?” And so  Charity Shop TV was created – a partnership, for now, between Riverside Radio and Wandsworth Oasis. 

Gill shared with us that it has been quite a challenge as they had no money to invest, the shops are closed and most of their staff are on furlough. Furthermore, most of their sorted stock is winter clothing. All the production, presentation, logo and graphics have been done by the fabulous volunteers at Riverside Radio and by using flexi furlough they were able to get some items together (that largely reflect the Wandsworth Oasis brand) and promote over social media channels.

The Charity Shop TV pilot episode went ‘live’ on Sunday 21 April – it was pre-recorded in Wandsworth Oasis’ Balham shop as they weren’t sure how it would turn out. The team had to do a specific risk assessment for the event, which meant lots of people who wanted to be there, couldn’t. They had initially imagined filming it against a backdrop of weird and wonderful bric-a-brac to remind people of the beauty of charity shops, but there was too much going on and the cameras couldn’t focus on the items for sale.  Gill added: “When you think about it, the professional shopping channels are very sparsely presented too. We’d been going to involve a drag queen, but she fell off her heels and couldn’t make it – maybe next time!”

Gill shared with us what they learned from this experience?:

“Well, we sold some items in that hour, so we were super pleased that the concept works.  We will film ‘live’ in future as tinkering with the recording is hugely time consuming and, as a result, expensive.  Filming in the shop is not an option – too disruptive when we are actually trading and not the right environment – but, to get the context of charity shops, we’ll maybe break up the live show with a pre-recorded piece ‘on location’ in one of our shops where items will have been pre-selected for sale. And maybe a short piece about the cause. We are also thinking of maybe theming each episode, for example ‘Summer BBQ’.  And finally, Riverside Radio need better kit to do this professionally and more quickly”.

And so we asked Gill, what’s next?:

“Riverside Radio are looking at models to be able to offer this to other charity shops that give charities the opportunity to sell their items via another channel. Watch this space!”

You can watch episode one and two below.