Have you ever wondered into a shop at a festival and wondered how it all works? Head behind the scenes with the volunteers of the Oxfam Festival Shop team at Kendal Calling to see how the magic happens…
The first thing that takes place is the sorting of all the stock the festival shop receives. 12,000 tonnes of items arrive into our recycling plant, Wastesaver, every year. This stock is sorted into whether it best suits the Online Shop, Festival Shop, or Oxfam’s social enterprise project Frip Ethique.
Every item that you see in the shop is handpicked by the team in Batley, and sorted into the type of item and what festival it would suit. You wouldn’t see a glittery, iridescent dress that belongs in Glastonbury’s Treasure Trove at Download!
When it hits festival season, it’s time to get technical with all the stock. There’s limits on how much we can load onto the vans and wagons we take along with us, so we have to take the best bits!
When loading, we estimate the weight of each clothing type to get the 5 tonne load on the wagon, or the even smaller load allowance for the vans. This makes it much easier than just hoping what we want to take will be alright! It might mean taking a few less wellies, or that extra bag of denim jackets but they could always still fit in the van.
We don’t just have to think about the stock we want to take. There’s the shop decor, mannequins and the ever-so-important kettle! If you’ve ever wondered what’s behind the scenes at an Oxfam Festival Shop, then you’re missing the makeshift kitchen hiding under a gazebo.
When all this is done, it’s finally time to head off! At Kendal Calling, we were hoping for the sun to welcome us like it did at Glastonbury, but that wasn’t the case. Setting up a shop in the sun is always better than the rain and mud. It’s not easy to setup rails, hang fabric and price clothes while the 20-strong team are cowering under a marquee!
The weather also dictates what stock we offer you. There’d be no use putting out strappy tops when there’s thunderstorms on its way. We take clothes that’ll suit all weathers, just in case! When the later shifts start, jumpers will appear on the rails, but earlier in the day you could see some shorts making an appearance.
The rain doesn’t just affect setup and stock, we have the same issues as you! From trying to park a huge wagon and multiple vans to setting up tents in a storm, we’ll always say we prefer the sunny weekenders.
Stock rotation and refresh isn’t just about the weather and times. We update the stock and replenish rails all weekend. You’ll never see an empty rail for too long as one of our team will be on their way to refill it, even till the final hours of Sunday night! It’s worth heading back to the shop throughout the weekend to get your hands on the best of what Oxfam has to offer.
When you head to the shop (hopefully multiple) times over the weekend, you’ll see many different friendly faces giving you a hand. We have three six-hour shifts a day so our volunteers can go and see the acts they want, and also have a breather!
By the end of the festival, we may be running low on some of the most wanted things. The crowds of Kendal were big fans of faux fur and sheepskin jackets, which meant what we had out was the final stock! This makes packdown on Monday morning much easier for the team.
As you all get to head home to a comfy bed and cup of tea on the Monday, we start taking down the shop. This involves packing away clothes in their designated sack, dismantling rails and leaving the marquee in the bare state we found it. This can be much harder depending on the weather. The mud bath at Kendal made it impossible to enjoy the sun while putting away clothes, and we spent more time trying to avoid slipping up and dropping a whole sack.
With so many festivals in our diaries, we have a very quick turnaround. We got back from Kendal Calling on the Monday evening, unpacked the wagon and van on the Tuesday, and packed for Boardmasters and Boomtown Fair in the following few days. This means we need to make the stock as neat as possible! There’s no rushing to get home, but instead ordering sacks and boxes for the team at Wastesaver.
Once we’re all back, it’s time to resort and unpack. An item being unsold doesn’t mean it’s not suitable for a different festival! Hippy trousers from Womad can still be perfect for Leeds, and a warm handknitted jumper from Kendal will suit Bestival as well.
After the stock finds a new home (or festival), and everything is ready for the next trip to a field, it’s finally time for the festival team to focus on the next festival! It truly is a summer of madness but we love it!
If you are interested in volunteering with the Festival Shop Team then you will need at least 3 months experience in as an Oxfam Shop Volunteer: You can find more information about volunteering in your local Oxfam here or current volunteers you can apply directly to the festival shop team here.
Non Oxfam Shop Volunteers also have the opportunity to volunteer as a steward or campaigner.