The King of bric



Bric-a-brac is a number of small ornamental objects of no great value. Synonyms: knick-knacks, ornaments, trinkets, baubles 

On two or more days of the week (Normally Mondays and Thursdays between 7am and 5.30pm), you will find it impossible to miss the chatty banter and belly laughs coming from the back room in the Charity shop as Pete, the universally acknowledged King of bric-a-brac, comes to restore some sort of order by sorting through piles and piles of bric-a-brac donations.

Sorting the bric (charity shop slang for bric-a-brac) comes with a continuous commentary; a cacophony of exclamations, dubious jokes (OK sometimes they’re quite funny!) and pointed observations!

A gruff, some might say cynical, cockney by trade and hailing originally from East London – Pete is a larger than life kind of character who fills the back room with his presence. And he knows his stuff – he has worked with Helen and Douglas as a volunteer for over 12 years.

“What do you think? We should get a couple of quid for that!” If you are lucky enough to be present during his shift you will invariably be invited to proffer an opinion on a piece of bric – in his words “the good, the bad and the ugly!”

At the shop we are very lucky to get some lovely stuff through the door and bric alone can make up to £2,000 of weekly takings (sometimes more) – Pete reckons he puts out about 80% of it. He’s probably right! In 2019 roughly 1600 pieces of bric sold each month. In 2021 that number has more than doubled to nearly 3500 pieces of bric a month.

Pete can be relied upon for his straight talking and direct approach to the job – if he thinks a donation is poor then his opinion will be hard to miss! … and he has a good point. The quality of some donations can be poor to the point of ridiculous!

In the bric department, you can quite regularly come across unwashed pans, broken crockery, random well worn (that‘s saying it politely) kitchen appliances, chipped ornaments and foggy or miss matched glassware (or both) … in fact, it can be very hard to be suitably grateful when donations of this quality are made. Consigning them to the bin with a well rounded insult is perhaps the best way to deal with them!

Pete works extremely hard at the shop. The bric donations come in thick and fast – about 30 boxes a day on average – and it takes a lot of energy to sort through them. 

He fills a festival trolley with the bric that he has sorted and priced up several times during his shift. Others put it out on display for him. He rarely places bric on the shelves as he can’t be trusted to put it in sensible places (he is the first to admit this!).

Pete is often fed by sympathetic co-workers – with sausage rolls, chips, burgers and bacon butties … it‘s hungry work although he is quick to observe that its very hard to get anyone to make the tea!

What Neke, the Shop Manager, says about Pete

“Well what can I say about our Peter! He’s been with us forever and is part of the furniture as well as a valued member of our team. Peter is very committed to our charity (Helen and Douglas house hospice) – he’s that committed, he starts at 7 twice a week and finishes at 5, also if we are over loaded with bric a brac he will come in on a Saturday as well. 

Peter will plough through at least 2 cages of bric each shift, I would say without any moans and groans but I would be lying as he is not a happy bunny when we get lots and lots of rubbish through our doors which we do get a lot of – but we also get a huge, huge amount of amazing items that can equate to over £2000 some weeks thanks to our amazing donors and customers THANK YOU and our one and only PETER – THANK YOU xxx”

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