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Online auctions put paid to Oxfam shop

PUBLISHED: 15:26 04 June 2009 | UPDATED: 14:05 03 July 2010

The explosion of internet auction sites like eBay is being blamed in part for the demise of Great Yarmouth's Oxfam charity shop which shuts for good this month.

The explosion of internet auction sites like eBay is being blamed in part for the demise of Great Yarmouth's Oxfam charity shop which shuts for good this month.

With the credit crunch snapping at people's heels canny customers are opting to line their own pockets rather than help fight poverty - selling their items to the highest bidder on-line.

Temporary manager and volunteer Paul Webster, 31, who lives nearby, said the drop in quality donations meant the shop was underperforming to the point it could no longer stay open.

Although it had attempted its own fight-back successfully selling some items on Amazon - the gap between takings and overheads could not be bridged, he added, and the shop will close on June 19.

Much of the stock and some of the 20 volunteers will be redeployed in the Lowestoft and Norwich shops.

Mr Webster said the Yarmouth shop had never been a massive money spinner and that a switch from general cast-offs to a specialist books and music shop five years ago aimed to boost its fortunes.

But the two-pronged attack from eBay and the credit crunch had proved too much of a challenge and its closure will leave another hole in King Street's gap-toothed smile.

Staff were told in January and Ann Sadd who has been volunteering at the shop since 1985 said: “It's the end of an era and we are all very sad. The friendships formed over the years in this shop and the sense of camaraderie between volunteers has been very important in making this shop unique and I think the rapport between the volunteers and our customers, especially since we changed over to a specialist music and books shop has been second to none. I personally feel the loss of Oxfam's presence in Great Yarmouth will leave a hole in this town that no other second-hand shop will be able to fill.”

Mr Webster said vinyl records were among top sellers with some donated items, most recently a Cream record, making £50. A donation point in Sainsbury realised a stack of Smiths records, one of them signed by the band, which coincided with Morrissey's appearance at Britannia Pier and were making up to £30 each.

This Mr Webster was busy wrapping a donated book about feminism that had made an impressive £30 on Amazon.

He said all the volunteers deserved a standing ovation for their dedication and enthusiasm, but singled out Gill Taylor for her efforts as “the backbone” of the shop. Over the years staff had got to know what customers were looking for and were on first name terms with many of them, he added.

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