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Aliona Cervinskaja Joe Seaman St Nich HospiceAliona Cervinskaja and Joe Seaman were the clear winners over their classmates when it came to increasing footfall and spending at the St Nicholas Hospice Care Shop in St John’s Street, Bury St Edmunds.

A charity shop takeover challenge by West Suffolk College students has proved a great success with the winning pair being praised for their “enthusiasm and professionalism”.

Aliona Cervinskaja and Joe Seaman were the clear winners over their classmates when it came to increasing footfall and spending at the St Nicholas Hospice Care Shop in St John’s Street, Bury St Edmunds.

Delighted winners, Aliona said she loved the experience which changed her view of charity shops and Joe felt they made a difference with staff appreciating their input and work.

The charity shop challenge featured the Business and Retail students taking over six charity shops, creating eye catching window displays as well as using the skills they had learned in the classroom. They worked with EACH, Suffolk AgeUK, St Nicholas Hospice Care and Barnardo’s in St Johns Street as well as Cancer Research UK on Abbeygate Street and The Salvation Army on the Cornhill.

Bill Hill, St.Nicholas Hospice Care Boutique Shop Manager said; “Staff and volunteers were impressed with the level of enthusiasm and professionalism of the two young people from West Suffolk College. We gave them the tools and the space to express their retail ideas and creativity, and they developed an attractive and eye catching Easter shop window display.

“Both were engaged with the day to day structure of life in a boutique charity shop, and were keen to acquire knowledge of the essential art of visual merchandising. Ultimately, we were happy to provide a real life retail environment for the students to progress their understanding, strengthening ties between two pillars of the local Bury St Edmunds community.”

Nina Hart, Business and Retail Course Director, said; “Overall the project has been a great success. The students really embraced the concept, working together with such professionalism, independently exercising a range of business skills. It was a pleasure to see them creating eye-catching window displays to entice custom in competition with their fellow classmates in other shops. Some of the teams also took the initiative to implement promotional activity.

“Poor weather was a factor throughout, with the need to reschedule the project initially due to heavy snow, and a second downfall directly after the actual take over which hampered sales. Whilst the timing of the snow was unfortunate, this live project has given the students an insight to a range of challenges faced by retailers.

“Verbal feedback from the charity staff has been extremely positive, so we hope to build on links with these great charities in future projects.”