This last year has had its about turns here and there. Last month due to the serious circumstances we find ourselves in, we had to close down our whole operation. Our exterior fencing of the factory has been manufactured and ready to fit when we found out that our blacksmith (IRONCRAFT) company had also closed. This was really disappointing as I had just filmed the old fencing and gates the week prior to the proposed installation, so that we could do a before and after expose. Our exterior shuttering door in the rear lane entrance had been measured and ready to install by the manufacturers (Cunningham Shuttering) but they too have closed. So these two jobs will go ahead once the nation gets the all clear.
We found that last year (2019) due to our downturn in furniture sales that we needed to address our electrical bills which had become a burden. Our board decided that we should rewire the ground floor level of the factory using LED lighting thus reducing our usage bills by up to 50%-60%. This has been completed (photos attached).
I would like to add that since the beginning of the year 2020 our sales of furniture have taken a leap for the good in our Partick shop. We have built up a clientele that comes from all over the country to purchase our goods due to the marketing of good quality antique furniture and the restoration of household goods that we restore before we put up for sale. I write because all our competitors (5 other second hand shops in our catchment area) are not enjoying the same upturn in sales as far as we have been told.
This has to be put down to two points. Firstly, the investment we made in having David McKeeman (Retired board member and volunteer) go through a restoration course of upgrading furniture has paid dividends.
The second point is that we have local Auctioneers who allow us to go and cherry pick any unsold furniture (often older items) they are left with after their fortnightly sale. The paint room has also been completed and is ready for work to be processed and used to help recycle furniture that is unpopular or heading for landfill. We have also registered with CRNS the recycling group.
I think one of the best things we have done is to have put eight of our service users (including two volunteers) through a PAT Testing Course (Done by APEX). Although the testing machine was expensive to buy we have purchased one. This now allow us to inspect our mountain of electrical goods before we put them on sale. In the past we had to wait for outside folk to volunteer this service (last one was over a year ago). We can not only do PAT testing for ourselves but for others also. With this in mind we decided to have an electrical sales room (in the factory) that we have fitted out with shelving. This new room will sell electrical goods from washing machines, fridges and cookers along with lamps and smaller electrical goods. We have enough stock to supply our city shop.
Our cafe has never made any profit but it is a great source for training, not only in cooking skills but also personal esteem and purpose, we feel it still the jewel in our crown. This coming year I will personally be pushing our seminar room to attract business’s which in turn can help with food/furniture sales. It still is our intention to put a TV in the cafe area advertising our furniture. We are also looking at doing a delivery food service to boost sales. Our two cafe staff members have gone through (Brogan is still sitting exams) a catering business module and the company running this for us have agreed to do free hygiene courses for any of our service users free of charge. On a final front I am pleased to say that we have managed to get back one stream with of our NTE (National Top End) long term placements. Through experience as a charity I have decided to take just the one placement at a time. In the past we have had four NTE on site at the same time. It just meant that each man was restricted to what they could do or say as they had an inmate with them that held institutional reigns in such a way that they could not act out with the self-imposed prisoner code. The man we have now, I intend to pursue an early release into our employment when his placement finishes in January 2021. It has been one of my main goals when I started the charity and I feel that this man has a good chance. We will appear for him and make a case that the work he has done has been invaluable and ask that he be considered for employment at Open Gates. This has been done before, and we hope to highlight, not only the savings to the public purse, but also to the benefit of our service user and Open Gates.
On a final note I have to give a massive “Thank You” to our volunteers for without them Open Gates would not be able to run as smoothly as we do. Our derelict building is on its last phase to being complete.