Two months ago Mary Portas dropped into Grazia's office to chat with us about how we could improve the dire quality of donations given to the majority of charity shops in the UK. In the course of the meeting we came up with the idea that we should become shopping-neutral, this being like off-setting your carbon emissions; i.e when you go shopping you drop off some old clothes. Then Mary piped up with 'Let's open a charity shop in Westfield.' Little did we know what we were letting ourselves in for!
Of the two months that followed, five weeks were spent gathering top-quality donations – and the last three weeks and three days involved us running the shop. Our ambition was to raise £50,000 in three weeks.... But when we closed the shop on Saturday evening at 7.45pm, we did our sums and found we had raised a whopping £113,000!!!!
Amazing don't you think?! But to achieve that we have a lot of people to thank. Four hundred volunteers have been involved, some from the charities – Save The Children, Mind and Trees for Cities, others from Mary's retail consultancy Yellowdoor, many from Grazia magazine and those at Westfield London. We've had stock from Oasis to Vivienne Westwood, from Mulberry to Topshop, and everything in between. Customers have literally poured through our doors with every single one of them leaving with a smile on their face. This has been a chance to drop off clothes, buy new items at a good price, support a charity that saves children's lives and have a great shopping experience. The energy and buzz that the shop created felt quite unprecedented. And when we closed the doors, we have to admit it, we shed a tear. We all want to keep this going, so we are in talks with Save The Children to take the Living & Giving concept to their new store in Stockbridge, Edinburgh, which opens in August. We will keep you posted on developments as they happen, and check back for the BIG THANK YOU LIST later!
- Melanie Rickey