Jun 30, 2015

Ponto Vermelho

Ponto vermelho (Red Dot) - Clothes, toys and other materials store, selling the items at lower prices to people with lower incomes and donating them to those families in extreme difficulties.

Another official text, that is just full of words, but it does not have a soul, and I cannot leave it like this.

First of all, Ponto Vermelho is a social shop. All the people working there are volunteers who want to give their time and effort to community. They welcome everyone with a huge smile on their faces and with open hands. It’s not just another shop where all the workers want you to spend more and leave faster; here you can even have an espresso while shopping around.

For me Ponto Vermelho is both hell and heaven at the same time. And I am going to explain why. It is heaven, because I am the first one to see all the donations and, of course, if I find anything that I want I can buy it before it makes to the shop. The hell part comes when the “Carrinha” (Mini Bus) comes with all the donations and you think that it’s impossible to check everything in one day. You kind of drown yourself in that pile of bags, boxes and other stuff. However, the feeling then you open the last bag, is impossible to explain in words. It seems like you made it, you climbed the Everest, and now nothing is impossible for you!

While working in Ponto Vermelho you can learn how to know the size of the clothes just by one glimpse of the eye. You can learn how to fold anything just using your hands and body in a second and not needing to put it on the table. And, of course, now I know the main sizes of babies, girls and boys, and women and men.

But let’s start from the beginning. Ponto Vermelho in Braga has three different rooms or as we call different stages. Firstly, all the clothes get to “Triagem” – choosing place. Where the work, I think, is the hardest. All the clothes have to be carefully checked, if they are good to go to the shelves or need to be put to trash. The next time I will want to donate something I will think more carefully, because the clothes that are being checked sometimes have huge holes, or big stains of paint, that for sure cannot be washed, or even huge sweat stains that makes the checking process even more unattractive. I think sometimes, when we donate clothes, we don’t think about the part that someone else will have to wear it, we just think that by donating we are doing a good deed and that's it. But we should think of the reasons why we want to get rid of some clothes, is it because we bought new ones and we don’t like them anymore or because they are not wearable? Sometimes, I really cannot understand people who donate just for the fact of donating and when you open the bag, you can’t do anything else just to through it out, because nothing inside is wearable no more.

Second stage or room is “Armazém” – storage room. After Triagem all the clothes that are already in the shelves are being checked again and then go to the Armazém now according to the sizes. This is why now I know all the main sizes not only for men or women, but also for children. Sometimes it is really funny, cause half of the labels are cut and you can either pick other thing with a label and size them both together to know what is the size, or after some time you just start using your body as a metric object and size t-shirts, sweaters and blouses according to your shoulder size. Or pants by your hips size and it works for both men and women. This is also a very good place to learn how all the clothes are called in Portuguese. Before moving clothes from Triagem, you need to do an inventory and write the quantities of all the things that you move.


 The last, but not the least place is Loja - the shop. All the double selected things from Armazém finally go to the shop. As they are already put in the sizes not only distinguished by pants, t-shirts or sweaters, but also by the size it is very easy to go and search for something, if a person wants more examples. The main work in the shop is obvious – making costumers happy. What is more, it needs to be arranged from time to time. The clothes need to be changed, to show what we have more, because it is impossible to fit all the things from the Armazém. Also ideas can be given how to improve the display, to make it more attractive or more visible. I love this part the most and from time to time I allow my imagination run wild.

All in all, Ponto is a place, there you can learn a lot. Not only how to fold clothes, but also how to arrange them efficiently. You can improve your Portuguese vocabulary with all the possible words for clothes, toys and things for the house. It’s a wonderful opportunity to see how things work from the other side and change your opinion about what should be donated.

Ponto Vermelho is more than a shop; Ponto Vermelho is a second chance for things that are still good! 

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