Obligations and Risks Associated with Running Op Shops

November 9, 2016 - 5 minutes read

chairsA not-for-profit Opportunity Shop can provide a good way to generate some extra income and benefit the local community at the same time. Depending on your church’s vision, your op shop could be used to raise funds for missions, outreach, or for other charitable or ministry purposes.

But whatever your goals and vision, setting up and managing an op shop is a pretty involved exercise. While it may be a non-profit concern, it still requires considerable skill in terms of overall management and staff supervision – in fact in much the same way as for any small retail business.

Read on for a brief guide to op shop management considerations and risk management practices.

Not-for-profit insurance requirements

You will need to ensure that your shop is covered by property and liability insurance, and that you have personal accident cover for volunteers in place. Contact Russell or Liz to discuss this further if required.

Shop management

People involved in the management of your op shop will need to have skills in sales, basic financial accounting, staff management and supervision, legal and council requirements, and overall premises and business management. You will also need to decide whether to hire any paid employees to manage the business or to staff it totally with volunteers.

Staff / volunteer matters

Some of the considerations here include:

  • Skill level of employees and / or volunteers (such as in sales and cash handling).
  • Roles, responsibilities and tasks.
  • Hours of work.
  • Drawing up of work rosters.
  • Assigning of appropriate tasks – i.e. according to skill level.
  • Police checks – especially for any workers holding keys to the premises.
  • Minimum age requirements.

Health and safety obligations

Legal responsibility for health and safety falls to the church or affiliate in charge of the shop, and include:

  • Safe working policies and procedures.
  • Provision of safe work environments.
  • Training and supervision of workers in all required tasks and safety matters.
  • Workplace bullying and harassment policies.
  • Procedures for dealing with aggressive or abusive customers.
  • Incident reporting procedures.
  • First aid procedures and supplies.
  • Fire, electrical, and chemical safety practices.
  • Removal of slip and trip hazards.
  • Good lighting and clean, uncluttered premises.
  • Emergency and evacuation plans.

Security of premises and cash management

Good security measures help to reduce the risk of burglary and vandalism occurring. This involves the following:

  • Procedures for opening up and closing the shop.
  • Lock and key management policy.
  • Cash handling procedures – such as floats, cash counting, register tallying, segregation of duties, and banking procedures.
  • Secure storage of cash and valuable items.

Goods for sale

Not all donated items will be suitable for resale – second-hand bike helmets, child car seats and baby capsules for example.

Certain other items will need to meet ‘mandatory safety standards’ before they can be sold. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has more information on product safety laws (see link below).

Other considerations

Of course there are many other matters to consider when running an op shop! Such as:

  • Legal and taxation matters – including which legal structure to use and whether an ABN and GST-registration are required.
  • Planning permits and council regulations.
  • Sorting and pricing of goods.
  • Maintenance of an inventory register.
  • Disposal procedures for unwanted or unsuitable goods.
  • Areas for sorting and storage of goods.
  • Disability access.
  • Marketing and advertising.
  • Repairs, maintenance and cleaning.
  • Rubbish disposal.

Where to go for more information

The links below provide more information relating to this topic.

External links:

Australian Tax Office – information for not-for-profits
Australian Charities and Not-for-Profit Commission (ACNC)
Product Safety Australia – mandatory standards

CCI Articles:

Work safety matters for volunteers
Healthy work environments
Prevention of slips, trips and falls
Workplace bullying, harassment and discrimination
Building security and crime-proofing
Disability access in CofC buildings
Cash handling and security tips
Key and lock management
Fire prevention strategies

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