We welcomed staff from a local business to support us in an ambitious 2 week project which saw more than 50 employee volunteers helping us across 3 locations. L’Oreal UK are our neighbours and run an annual citizen day where they encourage employees to volunteer with local charities and give something back to the local community. We’re thrilled to be chosen as one of the charities and wanted to share the results with you.
First we welcomed a team to our Head Office to discuss some ideas around marketing Books for Free. One of the ideas that came from that session was to run an internal campaign at L’Oreal to encourage each of the 600 staff to donate a book, plus create a case study / toolkit so that other businesses could run a similar campaign.
We met the team tasked with helping take our new Chiswick shop from an empty unloved shop into a vibrant “Books for free” centre. This group of volunteers was headed up by Ulisses Retail Design and Visual Merchandising Manager, we were extremely lucky to have someone with such a wealth of expertise in retail shop design and also loves books to create the vision for the new centre. The morning was spent planning and gathering the things needed for the transformation.
The afternoon more volunteers arrived to help decorate and paint, we also had furniture delivered from our partners Furnish who sell second hand furniture. The team proceeded to paint things in the black and white palette and create large sheets of wallpaper made from the pages of old books which had fallen apart and also lining the bookcases with the pages from the books. We also received a delivery of 3 pallets of books (around 3,000) so lots of heavy lifting getting the boxes into the centre, it really hit home how many we are rescuing from landfill and pulping and how much space they take up.
The fourth team arrived at Chiswick to take the batten to finish the space, lots of painting, we began to start on some of the finishing touches such as the bunting for the windows and painting photo frames.
Saw the bookshelves put into their correct positions and books starting to go onto shelves, sorting thousands of books requires a really organised team to focus on getting all those fiction and non fiction in their rightful places. We created signs for each section by using old broken books painted with chalkboard paint and then using a chalkpen. We even made an open/closed sign by upcycling an old frame and using book & map pages to create the letters.
This day also saw an enthusiastic team visit our HQ to discuss advertising the new centre, press releases were written, our communications toolkit for the volunteers rewritten, new streamlined processes agreed and some great ideas put forward. We are also going to be able to reuse this for any new shops we open up which really helps build capacity.
saw us move across to the established centre in Shepherds Bush which we share with the lovely Petit Miracles team who upcycle and sell furniture.
We were kindly allowed by the West 12 shopping centre to have a stall downstairs to help spread the word about the centre which is up on the first floor, lots of people did not know we are up there!
We did this for the next 4 days with a few volunteers in the morning and afternoon coming to lend their support, they chatted to members of the public and helped out in the shop. It was really valuable and at 50% increase in visitors was reported in the shop upstairs due to the promo efforts.
We were also lucky enough to be chosen by Sophie Gasperment the Chairman of the Body Shop who are also part of L’Oreal we had a major reorganisation of the books to make it easier for visitors to find a great book to take home and also alphabetised the fiction section and Sophie was a brilliant book sorter up in the shop.
Finally we had another team visit the HQ to support the internal and external messaging for the Books for free centre, this team are from L’Oreal Paris and coordinate Marketing across a wide brand portfolio so they had some brilliant and creative ideas of ways we could layer our comms and encourage people to get involved with the centre.
This project has been really valuable to us as a charity it has offered us a chance to connect with retail and marketing professionals which would be worth thousands of pounds in consultancy.
As a thank you we are holding a little party to launch the shop on the 9th of July. RSVP http://booksforfreechiswick.eventbrite.co.uk
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