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Charity Shop SuePhotography by Tom Morley

50 Questions With Charity Shop Sue

God-tier “hun”, longtime LGBTQ+ advocate and manager of Sec*Hand Chances in Bulwell, Nottingham, Charity Shop Sue is one busy laydeh – but she made the time to answer AnOther’s 50 Questions

Lead ImageCharity Shop SuePhotography by Tom Morley

Charity Shop Sue knows exactly what people think when they hear her name: “Manager.“ Fans of her cult YouTube series will know there’s no room for slacking at Sec*Hand Chances, her charity shop in Bulwell, Nottingham, where a donor will always be put right if they bring in a Royal Lady figurine that is actually, sadly, just a “Cheap Laydeh“.

Sue Tuke – to use the name on her payslip – has poured her years of managerial experience into a new audiobook, Charity Shop Sue’s Tools for Management and Success. It’s filled with personal stories – prior to her charity shop era, she worked as a fashion stylist in Paris and Milan – as well as “real-life drama from the shop floor“ and “exercises to help you succeed“. According to Sue, “there is no one in this current world who wouldn’t benefit from listening to this“.

As a god-tier “hun“ and longtime LGBTQ+ advocate, Sue has also appeared on RuPaul’s Drag Race and DJed at Mighty Hoopla festival. She’s so busy, in fact, that on the day we speak, she’s just realised she’s late with her tax return. “They’ll have to take the money from charity then because I ain’t paying that fine,“ she says with a shrug, being pragmatic as always. Sue still has lots to do, though, so let’s plough on with her 50 questions.

1. Where are you right now? In the shop on my lunch break. It’s a bit of an inconvenience doing this interview but I’m a lady of my word.

2. How would you describe your managerial style? Hot and cold. I like to keep the volunteers on their toes.

3. Do you think you can train anyone to be a manager? Yes. I’ve trained hundreds of my volunteers to be managers. And now with my audiobook, Charity Shop Sue’s Tools for Management and Success, I’m gonna build a generation of better managers.

4. What is the hardest part of your job? Answering to Head Office. My area manager Janet is gunning for me 24/7, but she’ll have to shoot quick to catch me.

5. How do you deal with shoplifters? I know there’s a lot of people struggling to get by with the cost of living. If they’d just ask me, I’d do what I can to help them – it’s a charity after all. But if someone’s trying to wind me up, I take matters into my own hands.

6. How do you unwind after a hard day at Sec*Hand chances? A hot bubble bath with a sensual self-massage.

7. Aside from Sec*Hand Chances, what is your favourite shop? My Sight in Nottingham city centre. Lynne is a fab manager, they’ve a great window display and fantastic stock. Thumbs up!

8. How many loyalty cards do you have in your purse? My loyalty cards have their own purse ...  currently 37.

9. What did you learn growing up in Bulwell? Not to swim in the Bulwell Bogs for more than 15 minutes. Because you will get a bad tummy.

10. What did you learn when you worked in Paris and Milan? Fashion is fun and liberating but also has a dark underbelly.

11. What have you learned from your various TV appearances? That it’s where I belong. I think I should be on Real Housewives of Salt Lake City. They could do with a salt-of-the-earth gal like me – too much money pickles the brain.

12. When did you last change your mind? This morning. I ordered an Americano at D Cups coffee shop, but as I took the first sip I thought about how nice a silky latte would be. So I asked them to swap it. The manager, Denise, gave me a funny look, but I told her I’d mention her in this interview so she hugged me and made the best chai latte I could have wished for. So yes, changing your mind can taste great.

13. What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given? My mama used to say: “You have to get ahead to stay ahead. And if that doesn’t work, learn how to trip people up.“

14. Do you consider yourself a people person? When I’m awake, yes. When I’m asleep, no. I hate seeing people in my dreams. I absolutely hate it.

15. Do you consider yourself a stylish person? It’s not about what you wear, it’s about how you wear it. I’ve got a lot of pzazz – like Grace Jones.

16. How do you dress like a manager? It’s all about shoulder pads because you want to look strong. If someone thinks you look weak, they’re probably gonna come in the shop thinking they can get a refund.

17. How does it feel to be featured on the @loveofhuns page? It’s always an honour. I love those hunnies – they’ve had my back since day one and I’ll never forget that.

18. In your opinion, what makes someone a hun? A hun is someone that loves to live, laugh and love, but will also fight you if you drink the last of the fizzy Freixenet.

19. Why do you think so many gay men love you? Cos I love them. It’s a two-way street with me and the LGBTQ+ community. When I was at school my best mate Dean came out to me. I was the first person he told he was gay. I promised him I’d always have his back and got into a fair few fights sticking up for him. I even helped him to experiment with his sexuality, but you’ll have to listen to my audiobook to hear more about that.

20. How do you measure success? Targets being met, money in tills, extremely happy customers and very tired staff.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given? My mama used to say: ’You have to get ahead to stay ahead. And if that doesn’t work, learn how to trip people up’” – Charity Shop Sue

21. What is your most prized possession? My gold watch, which my dad gave to me when I was 11. He apparently found it walking back from the bookies. It didn’t matter to me that it wasn’t trendy or that people said that it looked like it belonged to an old lady. I loved it because it was from my dad. He wasn’t around much but this watch always made me feel like he had time for me.

22. Do you believe in love at first sight? No, I don’t. But I do believe in second chances.

23. Do you believe in the concept of a guilty pleasure? I believe pleasure without guilt is much better. I once dated a guy who loved to feel guilty. At first I liked it because I could shout at him until I got my way. But then it felt like he was doing things to piss me off just so I would shout at him. I think he got a kick out of feeling guilty. And to be honest, I liked shouting at him but it got very confusing.

24. Do you believe people can really change? Yes, unless they’re snakes. The problem with snakes is you think they’ve changed when they shed their skin, but they’re always the same underneath.

25. Is there anything you would never talk about? The figures I send to Head Office. They’re for managers’ eyes only!

26. What is the latest you have ever stayed out? Hard to say. When I was a holiday rep in Corfu I didn’t sleep for five straight nights so it’s tricky to give a time.

27. Where is your happy place? In the shop with my gals. Don’t get me wrong, if I could get away with slapping them at least once a day, I’d take it. But when I’m sipping a cup of tea and watching Viki price up an antique, I feel so proud of how far she’s come since she started here.

28. What is your karaoke song? Cher’s If I Could Turn Back Time.

29. When you’re DJing, do you take requests? No way! My set, my songs, my choice.

30. Did you enjoy DJing at Mighty Hoopla? I loved it, though I will say it’s a bit of a blur because I do like a tipple after a performance and I do like a few shots before. I crawled on stage because the love that the community was showing me was so amazing I nearly collapsed. But I got back on my feet and thought, “No, I’m gonna give them a good set.“ And I did – it was absolutely banging. 

31. Who do you call when you really need a laugh? My sister Belinda. We laugh about all the things we got up to when we were kids. We used to get into loads of fights. She always says that I would start them with my big gob and she would finish them with her big fist.

32. What makes you excited? Seeing my area manager’s face when I succeed. Janet’s gonna regret not doing the foreword for my audiobook.

33. What keeps you awake at night? Figures. Sometimes numerical and sometimes ghostly. Sometimes a combination of the two.

34. What is your favourite tipple? Baby Guinness for a shot on a night out, a nice crisp savvy B if I’m out with the gals, shandy when I’m at work, snakebite after a long day at work, G&T in the bath before bed, and Horlicks and whisky if I wake up In the night.

35. Are you good at saying no? An expert. Even when I know I should say yes, I enjoy saying no. There’s an exercise for this in my audiobook because “no“s are like rainbows – they have so many colours and shades.

36. Are you good at saying sorry? Things are rarely if ever my fault, so there’s no need to say sorry. If I have to say sorry, I usually do it with a hot drink like peppermint tea ... 

37. How many hours of sleep do you need at night? Three and a half. Doctors say it could be anxiety; business people say it’s planning. Do you think Madonna is getting six hours a night? No, she’s getting two.

38. How much money do you need to be happy? Raising money makes me happy.

39. Should you meet your heroes? Probably not most of the time because so few have that electric personality. But after people meet me they’re always starstruck.

40. Do you ever feel misunderstood? All the time, which is why I’ve learned to not require anyone’s ideas, opinions or feedback.

What would you like on your gravestone? “She didn’t change the charity of the world but she changed the world of charity“ – Charity Shop Sue

41. What’s the weirdest rumour you’ve read about yourself? That when I was landlady of the Moon and Stars, I reported some of the other local pubs to health and safety to wipe out the competition.

42. What is the rudest word you know? Refund.

43. What was the last film or TV show to make you cry? Fellow Travelers with my pal Jonathan Bailey. When Matt Bomer’s character visited the Aids memorial quilt I was in bits.

44. What is the nicest compliment you’ve been given recently? That my YouTube series and charitable work help people through difficult times in their lives.

45. When you look in the mirror, what do you see? A laydeh that’s been through a lot but is still standing. Or sitting, if it’s the mirror on my dressing table. 

46. When did you last tell a lie? It was to my volunteer Vera yesterday. I thanked her for all the hard work she’d done, when in actual fact she hadn’t done eff all.

47. Who would play you in a film of your life? Probably myself, but if not, then BAFTA winner Vicky McClure. Not many people can do the Notts accent and she’s a bloody good actress. She tries to get freebies when she comes in the shop, but I tell her: “No darling, you’ve got enough TV work.“

48. What would you like on your gravestone? “She didn’t change the charity of the world but she changed the world of charity.“

49. Where is the most unusual place you’ve been recognised? On a train from Carn Eige to Loch Ness. I was in the toilet and forgot to press the lock button and suddenly it opened up. I was in a very compromised position but the family who opened it said: “Excuse me laydeh!“ They knew it was me and just stared until I hit the lock button. It was a very awkward moment.

50. Finally, have you enjoyed this interview? It’s been nice, but on a personal note I think you could do with my audiobook to help you improve on a couple of things.

Charity Shop Sue’s Tools for Management and Success releases on February 8, and is available on Audible.