Virginia Moore manages the DEBRA Ireland charity shop at 360 North Circular Road, Phibsborough. As part of our “Meet the Team” series, we spoke to her about how she came to work for DEBRA Ireland and what it’s like to run a charity shop. 

Tell us a bit about yourself

I was born in Cuff Street, near Stephen’s Green in Dublin and then Pimlico. I was there for about 15 years and then I got married. I’ve been married to Frank for 38 years. I’ve always worked in retail; even as a child, I always loved playing ‘Shop’. At Christmas I was always getting little sweet shops and cash registers off Santa. I loved displaying all the bits and pieces.  Pretending you had boxes of Corn Flakes (they weren’t real boxes when you were a kid) they were only little matchboxes.

After I finished school I went to work in Crumlin Shopping Centre where I worked for 20 years in the Page One newsagents and I absolutely loved it. I was in charge of the greeting cards. Years ago Crumlin Shopping Centre was one of the main shopping centres on the south side. It was a buzz of a shopping centre. Over the years I worked myself up to be the assistant manager.  Sadly the shop closed down and I had to leave and got a job with BWG where I worked for 15 years.

So after that, I was made redundant again. I decided I’d take a bit of timeout because my Mammy was sick. I was going up to Rialto at the time and I had seen the DEBRA charity shop. My sister and I loved checking out the charity shops ever Saturday so we went in and saw they were looking for volunteers and the following Saturday I started volunteering and that was my start with DEBRA Ireland!

Virginia with some of the books we have for sale

So you’re now managing the DEBRA charity shop in Phibsborough. What’s a typical day like?

I come in in the morning, have a look at all the stock, making sure it’s all facing right, all the sizes are together, everything is in order, and then see what new stock I need to put out. We size it, we price it, and steam it and then we put it out.

People don’t realise there’s so much to be done, there’s always something that needs tidying, something need fixing, and something needs changing because you can’t leave the shop the same all the time because people will get fed up so you have to move stuff around and make it interesting for people to see.

What kind of items do people bring in to the shop?

Well you can be lucky and unlucky! Sometimes you might get a bag of really good items, but sometimes not. It depends.  So, if you are donating please make sure it’s in good condition and it would something you would buy yourself!

What’s the strangest item you’ve found?

When you go through men’s pockets you’d get keys and chewing gum – they’re the main things.

Virginia, charity shop manager

What does the shop sell?

We sell absolutely everything except electrical goods so you never know what you might find, you’ll always find a bargain…and maybe even a designer one!

Tell us a little bit about your volunteers

The volunteers are very important to the shop because if I don’t have volunteers then I can’t open the shop. The volunteers are the backbone of DEBRA Ireland. I’ve started working with Tús Community Work Placement. So, people on long term unemployment can apply to come in and work with us – they get experience of working with people and we can continue to keep our shop open. We are always looking for volunteers – please fill in form here.

What’s the best part of your job?

Meeting people. You have great craic with them – people come in and tell you stories especially older people who may not have anyone to talk to and just like coming in and having a chat. We’re getting better established here in Phibsborough – people are getting to know us and DEBRA Ireland and the important work of the charity. With each week, we’re getting more involved in our community.

One of the rag bags that will be sent for recycling

Why are charity shops important?

They’re very important for recycling and the environment. We’re all living in a very disposable world. It’s great to see that somebody else will get a turn out of something.

You’re stopping something from going to landfill and you’re supporting a charity. Even if we can’t sell everything, we give the “rags” to Cookstown who recycle them. So, as little as possible goes to landfill. Some clothes may go to third world countries and the rags might be sold to garages or factories.  And they pay us for the rags so it doesn’t cost us anything. We get lost property from Dublin Bus, Copper Face Jacks and Café en Seine and many other well known establishments who give to us. The shop is also great for awareness of DEBRA Ireland and families living with EB. People might come in and they may have never heard of EB but before they leave, we explain what it is to them and they can then tell others.

Virginia and Cheryl from DEBRA

Our shop is at 360 North Circular Road, Phibsborough and is open Monday – Saturday (10-6) so come in and meet the fabulous Virginia, Sandra and our volunteers and see what treasures you can find! Huge range of clothing, books, jewellery, shoes, handbags, furniture and bric a brac.