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Charity Super.Mkt at Salford Quays Quayside shopping centre

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Pre-loved fashion lovers can shop to their heart’s content at a new pop-up store at Salford Quay’s Quayside shopping centre

Charity Super.Mkt brings together thousands of fashion items donated to charity shops and offers them for sale in a location where charity shops generally don’t get a look-in. The first was held in Brent Cross in January 2023, popping up in a now empty Top Shop space. The first to be held in the north of England has popped up in the Quayside shopping centre at Salford Quays.

Great British Life: Something for everyone, thousands of items all in one spaceSomething for everyone, thousands of items all in one space

The concept was created by designer and co-founder of fashion label Red or Dead, Wayne Hemingway, and Maria Chenoweth, CEO of sustainable clothing charity TRAID.

“My whole mission has been to get people to wear secondhand clothes,” she says. “At first it was for the joy of it, but now it’s a serious need. We are in the situation where clothes – production and waste – impact the environment dramatically. Apparently, there are enough clothes on the planet right now to dress the next six generations.

“Charity Super.Mkt was founded with the desire to bring multiple amazing charities together under one roof, in places and spaces they would not normally be able to access,” Maria adds. “Launching at Brent Cross and then as pop-ups in multiple places, such as now at Quayside at Salford Quays. We’ve created a brand that has made charity retail palatable to landlords, who trust us to go into their venues and not have any negative impact.”

In turn, of course, this places their charity offering in front of a whole new audience – Gen Z, for whom a musty old charity shop on the high street holds no appeal. A large, light and bright store, with music pumping (and a live DJ at weekends) and even table tennis tables, right in the middle of your usual fashion hunting territory, is far more attractive.

Great British Life: The queue started early - showing the appeal of the conceptThe queue started early - showing the appeal of the concept

Wayne adds: “The important thing is that this was just done as an experiment, at first, just for four weeks, where we were trying to prove a point that charities could be in locations they hadn’t been in before. We knew the charities would like it, but the acid test was the public – and clearly they absolutely love it.”

So, how did it all come about?

“Wayne and I worked together 25 years ago,” Maria says. “By chance we bumped into one another on the Tube and he invited me to go with him to the annual Charity Retail Association conference. We listened to them talking about how they wanted to reach Gen Z, how they could see the market changing as commercial players were coming into the secondhand market, with the sustainability message.”

Maria and Wayne returned to the Charity Retail Association conference 12 months later and learned that nothing had changed, no progress had been made.

“Going back a third year with no change was not an option,” Marie says. “With Wayne’s background in retail and knowing all the people who could give us access to the places and spaces that charities had never been able to get access to, we came up with the concept of Charity Super.Mkt and went to pitch it.”

They pitched the idea to Harry Badham, of Hammerson, which owns Brent Cross.

“He totally got it and offered us a space. We were given four weeks to open, we didn’t even have a brand, it was Christmas, and we hadn’t linked yet with any charities. It could have been a total failure.”

Great British Life: Students Callum Ewing and Megan Walton modelling some of the clothes for saleStudents Callum Ewing and Megan Walton modelling some of the clothes for sale

It was a total success. Since launch, Charity Super.Mkt has raised £1.2m, has sold over 126,000 items of secondhand clothing, and estimate by the end of the year to have hit £2m. In just six months of operating in the UK and with six pop-ups under its belt, Charity Super.Mkt has sold over 100,000 secondhand items, stopped 30,000kg of clothes going to landfill, and prevented more than 260,000kg of CO2 emissions. It has also helped fund nearly 200 extra days of cancer nurses for Cancer Research UK, 15 days of emergency helpline cover for Shelter, 3,000 hours of nursing care for Marie Curie, and more.

Each charity invited to participate provides the clothes to sell. They are then allocated their own section within the store, with information about their work alongside. A centralised till system, just as in a normal shop with brand concessions, makes it an easy process for shoppers, and a clever QR code set-up ensures that the money for each item sold goes directly to the charity that brought it for sale. Shoppers can choose pieces from any section, pay for it all at once, and the charities don’t lose out. The charities receive 80% of the sale price for each item sold, with the rest covering the overheads of the pop-up and logistics of the event.

The concept has proven itself in ways both measurable and immeasurable, so should we expect more pop-ups in the Manchester area?

Wayner says: “The figures show that when we go to a place, it increases overall footfall – in Brent Cross it was an eight per cent uplift. So it makes sense to have us there; it’s not simply us asking them to be generous.”

“For me, as an avid charity shopper all my life, I’ve never been able to walk past a charity shop without going in. Quite a lot of the time there’s just not enough stuff there for you to find something you like, and I want to spend money in charity shops – I feel disappointed if I can’t find something.

Great British Life: Daisy Jeavons, Lydia Johnstone and Megan Walton model items available at the Salford pop-upDaisy Jeavons, Lydia Johnstone and Megan Walton model items available at the Salford pop-up

“When you do something on this scale, it’s impossible not to find something, because of the sheer size of it. Because it’s all different charities with all different people picking things out from their warehouses it’s the most amazing amount of variety – it is a supermarket; there are rails and rails of items to look through and find something you’ll want to buy.”

At the Salford event, on opening day there were more than 12,000 items put out for sale, which will be topped up daily to ensure there’s plenty to browse during the full six weeks of the pop-up. And of course – every item is different from its neighbour, you certainly won’t end up wearing the same top as your friend next time you go out.

“It's serving the human need of wanting choice and wanting to purchase,” Wayne adds, “and here we’ve done it for an industry that’s never had it before. You know you’re going to buy something, and you know your money is going to a good cause.

“It was a bloody obvious idea and has been a roaring success wherever we’ve taken it.”

CharitySuper.Mkt is open at Quayside until 13 December. Pop along and shop, or make your own clothes donation to a good cause.


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