UK’s first ‘pre-loved’ clothing charity supermarket opens

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Thrifty shoppers can track down potentially cool finds at Charity Super.Mkt, serenaded by DJ sets and fuelled by ice cream as they go.

Ten charities have clubbed together for the new concept at a ­former Topshop store in Brent Cross shopping centre, north London.

It is the brainchild of designer Wayne Hemingway, co-founder of British brand Red or Dead, and Maria Chenoweth, CEO of sustainable clothing charity Traid.

And the idea is to exploit the trend for vintage fashion and fight off commercial competition.

Wayne is confident it will help breathe new life into the high street as well as saving people some money.

The 62-year-old designer said: “The rent-free spot in a large and well-known shopping centre such as Brent Cross could help change hearts and minds. It would bring new shoppers to the centre and give existing visitors something different.”

Wayne believes local councils sometimes push out charity shops from high streets, seeing them as a mark of failure.

But Charity Super.Mkt is a far cry from how things used to be. Browsing could be a grim task, full of stale denim and fraying polyester. You were as likely to find a chic designer dress as you were a bag of gold.

This superstore will offer a curated selection of second-hand goods, from ball gowns to ski goggles, and will be staffed by volunteers “inspired by ethical and sustainable shopping”.

Contributing charities include Age UK, All Aboard, Barnardo’s, Cancer Research, Emmaus, Havens Hospice, SCT, Marie Curie, Shelter and Traid.

The latter’s boss Maria Chenoweth said: “Having been in charity retail for over 30 years, being part of the first collaboration in an old Topshop store is iconic. Charity Super.Mkt hits the circular economy and sustainability ­aspirations, while also ­hitting the cost-of-living crisis. [It] provides everyone with the opportunity to buy good and do good.”

The store – which is open until February 25 – aims to build on changing perceptions of thrifty shopping. The rise of online sites such as Depop and Vinted is inspiring young people to look beyond fast fashion and dress more ethically.

There were plenty of satisfied ­customers at Charity Super.Mkt’s launch event on Thursday. Jasmine Fleur found six “treasures” within five minutes of arriving.

The 29-year-old art teacher from Brixton, south London, added: “All of my favourite charities are in one place. There’s such a buzz and everyone seems so happy – I love that.”

Coffee shop owner Simon Higginbottom, 50, from Bucks, said: “I have found my home. I love charity shops and can see this working on a bigger scale. It could be the future of thrift shopping.”

The UK market grew by 149 percent between 2016 and 2022 and is set to grow by 67.5 per cent from 2022 to 2026, according to analysts at GlobalData. Meanwhile, charity shops had an 11 percent rise in sales in the three months to the end of September, said the Charity Retail Association, while Oxfam sales rocketed by 40 percent in the run-up to Christmas.

Sarah Tinsley of Hammerson, joint owner of Brent Cross, said: “We’re excited to bring this innovative concept to our customers first.”

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