An Amazing Success Story

We’ve kept you up to date with the progress of the CIKA Pop Up Shop in Balaclava during the lockdown months. It has finally closed its doors after raising over $40,000 so the shop team met for lunch on Monday May 9 to celebrate their success with this venture. So successful was it, that CIKA’s RCH Stalls Coordinator, Sala Rubinstein, was invited to give a presentation at the Auxiliaries AGM on April 18. Her speech (reprinted below) inspired others with her creativity and commmitment. Thank you Sala for taking the time to prepare and present at the meeting in addition to raising funds and CIKA’s profile.

Celebrating the success of the shop at Linger Cafe in Camberwell.

Sala’s speech:

Thank-you for giving me the opportunity to share our CIKA shop experience with you all. Eleven and a half years ago, I was introduced to CIKA, by my partner, Israel Rosenfield, who was a very committed and generous patron of CIKA. Being a Cancer survivor myself, I knew that one day I would like to give back, but I didn’t know in what capacity. After meeting the ‘CIKA people’, who were so warm and inviting, I knew it was going to be with them.

Israel’s business was commercial shelving and he obviously had some kind of premonition that I would need this one day as he installed wall to wall shelving in my double garage and shed. Let me tell you that every bit of that shelving is now completely full with CIKA stock!!!

The 20th March, 2020, was the last day we had a stall at the hospital. Two days later we were all in COVID lock down!! The longer we had to stay home, the more I was thinking ‘what could I do’, firstly to sell some of my stock, and secondly, to raise some money for CIKA. At the end of 2020 it was looking like we were finally going to be let out again!! Yeah! Again I was thinking ‘What can I do?’ One of CIKA’s volunteers (Vivian) from Linger Cafe in Camberwell offered to set up a couple of trestle tables outside her cafe for a few weekends in the lead up to Christmas. It was great fun and, yes, we raised some hard-earned cash, however, it was very intense as we had to pack up at the end of the day and set up again the next morning. After that, I thought ‘there had to be an easier way…..’

Then, there was another lock down! Again, frustrated, the brain was hurting a bit from too much thinking. Eventually I came up with a brilliant idea.…..A SHOP. The process of getting it, however, wasn’t as easy as I thought. Although there were a lot of vacant shops, no one wanted to DONATE a shop. I started with asking my family and friends and their friends, but no one had a vacant shop. Then I started looking for shops in areas close to home and calling the different real estate agencies. As soon as I mentioned “rent free” the answer was always NO.

At that time I was very disappointed and angry but still determined to get this shop somehow. My last port of call was an email to Jacqui (from Moose Toys) who has donated lots of toy products over the past 6 years. Within an hour, she responded with “my son has a shop and if it is still vacant OF COURSE you can have it”. I couldn’t believe my ears, I was like a kid in a lolly shop. I was excited and didn’t know what to do next. Who to call, Sandra or Angela, my best friend. My brain was in overdrive with what to do next but by the end of the day I had the shop!!!!!!!!!

Now the PAPER WORK!!! I don’t do paper work. Just give me the keys and let me do what I do best – the set up of the shop and the selling! But, both the real estate agent and the hospital paperwork. Finally, a few days later, it was all completed. It was end of February 2021 with Easter and Passover approaching. We had to search for trestle tables, people to staff the shop, and people to move all the stock from my garage. In addition we had to follow instructions to comply with Hospital and COVID policies. It was certainly full steam ahead. We finally opened on the 7th March and the community in Balaclava was amazing. Once people knew it was for the Children’s Hospital they came back many times to support us. So we, in turn, extended our original 4week retail experiment to 8 weeks.

I am a glutton for punishment and the success of the Easter period was still buzzing in my brain in October. When I again approached Jacqui from Moose for permission to use her shop again, “YES” was the answer “for as long as you like”. The hunt for more stock began – word of mouth happened and, before I knew it, donated stock was coming in including a great assortment from the Geelong auxiliary. Sales for Christmas were enormous so we continued in the shop until March, having had a lucrative seven months of trading. Without all my helpers this could not have been achieved. Thanks to all at RCH and CIKA and my wonderful friends for lending a hand and giving me the opportunity to feel useful after ‘coviditis’.