Designer store? No, it's a charity shop

Forget rummage boxes and sticky carpets – Britain's charity shops are being given a design makeover to "contemporise" them for modern shoppers who no longer like picking over old shoes, bric-a-brac and incomplete jigsaws in fusty surroundings.

One of the country's biggest charities, Age UK, is turning all its 500 shops into bright outlets with white walls, smooth lines, wooden flooring and trendy furniture. Shoppers will be able to receive information on the charity's work and advice from a series of "interactive touch-screen kiosks".

Age UK, formed from the merger of Age Concern and Help the Aged, opened its first version of the "innovative new concept" in Ashstead, Surrey, this week and will convert shops in Colne, Chesterfield, and Kentish Town, north London, by June. Over the next four years it will refit all its 500 outlets – almost as common a sight on the high street as W H Smith.

The overtly-styled shops are part of the modernisation of the country's 8,000 charity stores, which sell donations of clothes, furniture, books, crockery and other miscellaneous gifts. Nationally, the fundraising shops make £120m a year from a turnover of £600m.

Save the Children is slowly switching its 123 shops to a funkier "Living and Giving" format following a televised experiment overseen by the retail expert Mary Portas last year. At its Orpington branch in Kent last year, "Mary Queen of Shops" cleared out the clutter – and some octogenarian staff – and replaced them with clothes made by local fashion students and brought in a professional manager. Since then the shop's takings have soared from £900 to £3,000-£4,000 a week; BBC2 will screen an update to the series on Monday.

According to David Moir, head of public affairs for the Association of Charity Shops, leading charities are seeking to adapt the "pile-it-high" multi-purpose format. "Many more charities are looking at diversifying and specialising, into boutiques, bookshops, furniture and electricals," he said. "We are moving away from the model we all know and love and towards what consumers are demanding."

The biggest player, Oxfam, which has 750 shops, has been experimenting with online fashion sales and opening specialist bookshops. The British Heart Foundation, which has 600 shops, has been creating furniture and electrical "superstores".

Age UK's 500 shops will be fitted out in its colours and "incorporate contemporary shop fittings and signage". To reinforce the recycling element of buying from charity shops, goods will feature the slogan "I've been loved before, so love me again". The charity, which supports a global network and funds research into ageing, said: "The concept stores have been launched with an ambition to become a community hub.

"As well as stocking a range of donated items, including clothes, books and homeware, they will be the first in the UK to feature interactive touch-screen kiosks, giving internet access to other Age UK services, including the new free information and advice line."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there