In 2012, Kingfisher Treasure Seekers officially became a social enterprise. A small shop on College Street, Gloucester was set up to give volunteering opportunities to people with learning disabilities, and those stuck in an unemployment cycle. It was a new model to help those who had been let down by other systems at the time. It was so exciting to offer this opportunity to all the people we already knew through our activities for people learning disabilities. The shop at this time was ran by Craig, and sold beautiful items that Jan, one of our directors, made in her living room!
In 2014 a large, four story building at 52 Westgate was purchased and transformed into a community space. A coffee shop (The Cavern) was set up in the basement, an art space was created upstairs, and the shop moved from around the corner to become the front door to this space. This building was the beginning of many new activities that we were able to offer for the 100's of disadvantaged people being reached by Treasure Seekers. The shop at this time sold 'retro sweets', 'American candy' and some jewellery.
This was a big year for Treasure Seekers, when a mental health support service was set up in the building, which has gone on to reach 400 people a week! But the shop was without a manager for the first sixth months, and was facing challenges commercially. In June 2016, Nathanael was hired as manager and he began establishing a vision and strategy, for the shop to be a Fair-trade shop: selling high quality gifts, that would match the ethos of Treasure Seekers- to value all people.
On this day, our shop re-launched into 46 Westgate Street as a 100% ethical and Fair-trade shop! It was new and exciting territory for us, and the sales of the shop increased by over 70%, compared to before it was a Fair-trade shop! This brought much greater training experience to our volunteers, who were proud to be part of a thriving high-quality retail environment. December of 2017 saw an increase of 80% in sales on any previous year! In April 2018, our shop joined BAFTS (The Fair-trade Network UK), and we were fully recognised as a Fair-trade Shop.
At this time, Jake heard about a Deputy Manager vacancy at our shop, and decided to leave his career in care work in Nottingham, to be part of our vision. Jake had always been passionate about giving opportunities to vulnerable people. This passion began at a young age, when his youngest brother was diagnosed with Autism. Jake set about to improve our training programme, bringing to life the vision for it to be an established employment training centre for any disadvantaged person in Gloucester.
In mid 2018, Nathanael stepped into a different role in Kingfisher Treasure Seekers, and Jake stepped up to be Acting Manager. Despite a challenging year in retail nationally, our little Fair-trade Shop on Westgate was able to continue growing- including running a second branch in Cheltenham over Christmas. 2018 saw many volunteers move into paid work, and Jake introduced many changes to improve the training programme further. We were gaining new customers all the time, as the word spread about the ethos and quality of what our shop has to offer. 2018 also saw the launch of this online shop!
We will continue to sell Fair-trade gifts that empower people around the world, as we believe everyone deserves the chance for meaningful work! We will be continuing to improve our training programme: we have a vision to be the key employment training centre for disadvantaged people in Gloucester. We don't want anyone to miss out on the chance for meaningful work if they want it, wherever they live and whoever they are!
Thank you for supporting us, we rely on your gift purchases to see this vision fulfilled! #GiftsThatEmpower