Prama Shops Showcase - Ashley Cross, Poole
Ashley Cross Prama is located along the main stretch of shops on Bournemouth Road in Poole. Prama’s Emma Longden recently visited to have a chat about the shop and manager Michelle’s experience of running it.
From the moment you see the Ashley Cross Prama, even from the outside, you can tell how much Michelle, her assistant manager Cathy, and their team care about their shop. Their window displays have won awards in the past, and it is clear that a lot of care has gone into the details of their current Mother’s Day display – a talking point with passers-by, who are drawn inside by the bright and welcoming arrangement.
Entering the shop, clothing, shoes and accessories are to one side, whilst bric a brac, furniture and glassware are to the other. One of the things that stands out the most in the Ashley Cross shop is use of space. Every corner of the shop has been utilised to make the most of the room available, including a book cubby, changing room and an accessories space which is reminiscent of Ariel’s cove in The Little Mermaid, complete with treasures untold waiting to be discovered.
Talking to Michelle, it is clear how passionate she is not only about her shop, but about the Prama charity. With a background in retail and care, including running a supported housing scheme for teenagers out of foster care, Michelle took the job of manager for the Ashley Cross shop just over three years ago as she wanted to do something positive for the community.
One of six charity shops in the Ashley Cross area, Prama relies on donations so customer
satisfaction and word of mouth is important. Michelle talks fondly of her regular customers, whom she has built a strong rapport with over the past few years, often leading to repeat donations and recommendations to friends and family from customers.
Michelle’s favourite thing about working in the shop is researching items to maximise the revenue through donated pieces. Describing herself as entrepreneurial, Michelle adds wallpapers, birthday cards and old sheet music to empty photo frames to help them stand out and look more interesting on the shelves.
Taking out a mannequin, about to be put out on the shop floor, Michelle is proud to present a Tom Ford/Gucci shirt. The designer piece was donated with a couple of large stains but, after seeing how valuable the originals were online, Michelle took the time to hand wash the shirt and carefully remove the stains, leaving the shirt looking almost as good as new.
Looking around the shop at the items neatly arranged and organised, it isn’t hard to see why
customers enjoy visiting the Ashley Cross store. Not only are you bound to find a bargain, but Michelle and her team go the extra mile to make sure that you leave happy. Going above and beyond for her customers comes as second nature to Michelle, who pays attention to what each customer is looking for, enabling her to put aside pieces for those who are collectors or have a keen interest in vintage fashion, giving them first look at certain pieces before they are put out on the shelves.
The award winning window displays, which are well known in the local area, are sometimes
planned months in advance, with Michelle and her staff putting aside items that would work for a certain concept, such as the current 'Geek’ display, which includes comic book characters, Star Wars figures and t-shirts and science books, as well as a fantastic piece leant to Prama for the purpose of the display by a local artist. It is this attention to detail which led to first place for one of the shop’s Christmas displays a couple of years ago, and which keeps customers coming back to the store time and again.
If you haven’t been to the Ashley Cross Prama before, make sure you give it a visit. Michelle and her team will be waiting to give you a warm welcome!