SHOPPERS hoping to bag a bargain in Herefordshire are in luck as the county's biggest charity shop opens its doors today.

The new St Michael's Hospice shop in Whitestone, just a few miles outside of Hereford, opened at 10am today (May 23), and we went along this morning to find out what it has to offer.

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The site, which was previously home to the I&JL Brown furniture shop and workshop, is now the Bartestree-based hospice's main base of operations for their 18 shops around the county.

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Downstairs is the donation centre, a warehouse packed to the rafters with donations. It is open seven days a week for donations, but also acts as a hub for the rest of the county's shops.

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Items donated at the other shops are brought here for sorting, storage, and redistribution.

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Warehouse and distribution manager Nick Hooper, who showed me around the donation centre this morning said the charity is "really lucky that the relentless amount of donations is non-stop!"

"We have filled every corner and more," he said.

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Also downstairs are some very useful items left behind by the shop's previous owners on their retirement. This includes spray booths, which the hospice hopes to use to upcycle furniture themselves.

Upstairs is the huge new retail space and cafe, offering a vast array of items.

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The new shop has areas dedicated to furniture, upcycling, books, decorative items, and more.

It also boasts a large array of clothing, including St Michael's Hospice's first foray into bridal wear. 

Ledbury Reporter: The new cafe at St Michael's Hospice shopThe new cafe at St Michael's Hospice shop (Image: Hereford Times)

The cafe, set in the middle of this space, offers shoppers the chance to take a break with a slice of cake and a hot drink.

The shop itself is bright and airy, largely painted white with the odd mural scattered through the building.

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Whitecross artist Dermot Clarke, who was also behind the mural in Hereford's Capuchin Lane, has created one of the murals. 

Mr Clarke said when asked to create a mural for the shop he had thought about what the hospice itself does. 

Ledbury Reporter: Artist Dermot Clarke with his mural at the new shopArtist Dermot Clarke with his mural at the new shop (Image: Hereford Times)

"They support people," he said.

"The design itself represents a supportive community. Each shape is both supported and supportive. The perfect community is beautifully balanced, with each member feeling valued and important to the whole structure.

"I have tried to create a vibrant composition that shows both fragility and strength."

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Creating the shop itself has been a labour of love that has taken the team months. 

Income generation, marketing, and communications director Rachel Jones said it had been "really quite horrible" news when the hospice was told that their landlord at the former Holmer Road site was selling up, meaning they would need to close the shop.

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That shop, she said, had brought in more than half a million pounds each year for the hospice, and the team quickly embarked on a "very intensive" search for a new site.

A rumour that the I&JL Brown site was soon to come up for sale proved to be true, and a viewing confirmed that it would be the ideal site.

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"Designs and refurbishment took a huge amount of work over months and months," she said, thanking the whole team for their hard work. Many of the team from the Holmer Road shop have moved to the new Whitestone shop, she said.

"Every bit of profit that comes out of this site will be helping our patients and families.

"We will be there for them thanks to this site and our others and the profit it will make."

The shop will be open seven days a week, 9am to 5pm Monday to Saturday and 10am to 4pm on Sundays and bank holidays.