Oxfam shop to close

•  Fill-in Oxfam manager Fiona Casey helps Naziad Legendre choose a fair trade present for her daughter Mérissa. Photo by Steve Grant.

Staff in shock as charity exits retail

OXFAM Fremantle will be closing on June 14, leaving local staff and volunteers “horrified, shocked and disappointed”.

On Thursday the charity announced it was closing all stores and online sales portals across the country due to the “tough retail environment”.

Fiona Casey is one of the fill-in managers looking after the Fremantle store until it closes, and says the 15 staff and volunteers were left shellshocked when told of the decision a fortnight ago.

“We are going to lose our jobs, but then you have to think about our producers,” Ms Casey told the Herald.

“We haven’t met them in person, but we handle their products and we see them in videos.”

Ms Casey says Oxfam carries only hand-made goods from developing countries, and apart from providing a crucial income for struggling communities, sales help keep alive ancient traditions.

“Where else could you get a dhokra elephant made in brass – they will be no more,” she said.

“We also have a lot of indigenous artists from South Australia, so what are they going to do?”

Ms Casey said the store’s staff pleaded with head office not to close its retail arm, but it fell on deaf ears. Staff were offered counselling sessions to deal with the news.

“There are going to be 15 people who are going to be a little lost,” she said.

The Fremantle store has been operating for around 30 years, starting as Community Aid Abroad, and Ms Casey said one volunteer had been looking after the till for 25 years.

Oxfam chief operating officer Tony McKimmie said it was a difficult decision.

“The closure of trading operations in no way reflects the performance of our valued staff and volunteers over more than 50 years,” Mr McKimmie said.

“We sincerely thank them all for their dedication and significant contribution to our core mission of tackling poverty.”

Ms Cahill said there’d be a closing down sale, although they hadn’t yet been informed when it would be held.

by STEVE GRANT

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