Community notice re: Warehouse damage and temporary closure
Detailed information on what happened and what's next
March 14, 2023
Dear Customers & Friends of RGQ,
Although the clean-up and repairs to our warehouse have taken longer than we hoped for, they are now in their final stages, and we now have a very clear picture of the damage, so we thought this would be a good time to update everyone on the anticipated road map from here, and also to provide some more details on what happened in the first place.
The roof replacement was meant to be a straightforward procedure, though during the process, a section of roof was damaged. During attempts to repair the damage, an accident occurred which caused significant sections of the ceiling, which was suspended from the roof, to collapse. Fortunately no one was injured, but unfortunately, many of the ceiling tiles that fell and broke during the collapse were found to contain asbestos. The asbestos found in the tiles was classified as a type B, or bonded asbestos.
At that point, the warehouse was declared off-limits to everyone, staff and the general public alike, and the only people that have been allowed to enter have been licenced professionals under strict health and safety rules.
Following the collapse, a series of tests and air monitoring was carried out throughout the warehouse by a licenced asbestos hygenist. Although the bulk of the positive tests occurred directly below the areas of collapsed ceiling, there were some positive tests across a significant proportion of the shop floor, and consequently a decision was made that the entire shop floor should be considered as potentially contaminated.
The affected area of the shop floor, including the Emporium, was sealed off from the unaffected areas, and a full clean-up and decontamination of the entire shop floor and fittings was carried out by licenced asbestos removalists under the strict supervision of the asbestos hygenist. The vast majority of the stock on the shop floor had to be disposed off (we estimate around 90%), but thankfully, there was no contamination detected in the sorting and storage areas at the rear of the warehouse, which will make the restocking process a lot easier.
The clean-up has now concluded and the final air monitoring and dust swab tests have all been negative, which means the building is now safe to enter. We’re extremely confident in the professionalism and thoroughness of the experts who carried out the job, but if anyone has any ongoing concerns about safety in the warehouse, please get in touch via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There are currently some final roof plumbing and electrical repairs taking place and we anticipate they will be completed in the next fortnight. At that point, we will have full access to the warehouse and can begin the process of putting it back together. As you can imagine, everything had to be moved around during the cleaning and decontamination process, so it currently bears little resemblance to the shop floor we’re used to.
We think it will take a few weeks of reconstructing, then at least another month, perhaps two, of restocking the shop floor before we’re able to open to the public again. Whilst we have some things in storage, we’re going to have to do a lot of collecting from our regular suppliers to get back to the point where the shop doesn’t look mostly empty. That would be a bad impression to leave customers with and would probably hurt us in the long run, so we just need to be patient.
We hope that we’ll be able to reopen the mail order service before that (some time in April perhaps), though the majority of our focus must be on getting the warehouse back into a trading state as quickly as possible. That means we’re unlikely to be able to respond to requests to purchase items over the phone, via email, or through social media before that happens. We hope our customers can understand how responding to enquiries (and probably quite a lot of them) through these channels could distract us from that main objective.
Another consideration for our recovery is how to recommence accepting drop-off donations. After almost four months of not accepting donated goods, we suspect there will be a lot of people (with the best intentions of course) very keen to bring donations to the warehouse.
This could potentially be chaotic, and overwhelming, so it will be some time before we commence this. When we do, we will put some specific procedures in place to manage it, and ask that people wishing to donate their items respect those procedures. Stay tuned for further details.
The Workshop program will continue to operate normally as it has done these past four months, and booking into one of our school holiday or monthly adult workshops is a fantastic way to support us during the recovery process.
What can you do to help?
At the moment, the scope for voluntary help is very limited, and this is likely to be the case for the next month or two. Once we have the warehouse properly reinstated and the restocking processes are firmly bedded down we may put the call out for volunteers to help. We'll update our website and post on Facebook when that happens.
Support RGQ with a financial donation - This is something we rarely ask for, but not being able to conduct our material sales business for the past four months has taken a significant toll on our finances. We still believe that the best way to support us is by doing business with us, but the opportunities to do that at the moment are limited, so if you'd like to make a financial donation, we've set up a link here to make that easy. Donations are handled securely through Stripe.
Please note that although we're a registered charitable entity with the ACNC (you can check our registration here), we don't have Deductible Gift Recipient status, so donations made to us are not tax deductible, but we're still allowed to ask for and accept them. We are enormously grateful for anything you think you can spare.