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The Spirit of Christmas Shop
Every Christmas, Dennis Stevenson, with community help and at no cost, borrows an empty shop and gives away thousands of free presents.
Christmas shops held in:
2009 Burleigh, Gold Coast.
2010 Nundah, Brisbane, Queensland.
2011 Clayfield, Brisbane
2012 Norman Park, Brisbane
2013: Wangaratta, Victoria
2014: Wangaratta and Coolum
2015: Wangaratta and Coolum
2016: Ocean Shores, Northern New South Wales
2017: Jimboomba, QLD
2017: Ocean Shores, Northern NSW
2018: 24/7 for over 4 months, Brunswick Heads, NSW
2018: 17–24 December, Ocean Shores Shopping Centre NSW
2019 16–24 December, Ocean Shores Shopping Centre NSW
2020 Former Railway Station Billinudgel, NSW 2020, 24 hrs daily (2 years so far)
2021, 20, 21, 22, 23 December, at Ocean Shores, NSW
This is how Dennis does it. So can you.
Four key principles in running a shop
1. I never charge anyone, for any reason. The shops are about love, with no judgement or conditions.
2. I accept presents but never accept any money at, or for, the shop. Ever. People/individuals can create wonderous things when we put our heart into it.
3. I don't ask businesses for gifts, only for the signs etc, (see below) and, if I have a free daily draw, the prize is one special item for each day we are open (e.g. kayak etc).
4. The shops are created, run and the gifts are nearly always given by individuals, not groups. Groups can be wonderful in giving a hand but this is not a church, government or welfare group creation. We are building communities by doing things through local people. I am always happy to explain this further.
Gather some friends to have the time of your lives. Perhaps six* generous, reliable people. Meet up and each choose a task you enjoy. Write out some simple steps to do.
Find and borrow a large empty shop in a busy area that has free parking.
Call it ‘Spirit of Christmas (your town/ city)’.
Open from 9am – 6pm daily. Close the shop at 6pm on Christmas Eve.
Make a shift roster for all the shop helpers. Re-stockers and cleaners start at 6pm.
Get free Public Liability insurance.
Ask local businesses to donate window/ floor cleaning and shop signs. People are very helpful. Borrow tables, covers, stands and a mirror.
Collect new gifts (or anything that looks brand new). New gifts are vital as people need to wrap them as new presents. It’s a gift shop, not an op shop! Fill the shop for the grand opening.
Tell everyone. Write a News Release **. When the wonderful folk on TV, radio, newspapers, groups and clubs hear, they’ll tell everybody and people will bring in thousands of new gifts.
* All timings, numbers etc. are what I do. My recommendations though they work very well.
** Include in the Release, what, where, when, how as well as the phone numbers (mobile and home) of your chattiest person.
Use a large, say 16 point, Times font in black ink on one white A4 sheet.