Oxfam has opened its first “superstore”, a mammoth space which includes a drive-through donations point. But what are the impressions of customers trying it out for the first time?
“I’m 21 so hopefully I’ve got a bit of time left on the planet – it would be nice to keep it the way it is.” Eleanor Leahy is trying on a pair of trainers at the 18,500 sq ft (1,718 sq m) store in Oxford, which is 12 times the size of an average Oxfam shop.
“Charity shopping is so much better for the planet and so much more sustainable – but usually you can’t go out looking for something, you’ve got to find it at the right time,” Eleanor says. “So it’s just amazing to have so many options all under one roof.”
As she is speaking, another customer tries out a piano in the background, while the nearby clothes section is crammed with shoppers.
“Fast fashion is the second biggest cause of climate change so it’s important to make what difference you can,” Eleanor says. “People can see that there are more options to shop sustainably now. They’re also seeing how much of an impact the way we’ve been shopping in the past has made on the planet.”
A small queue gathered outside the superstore in the Oxford Business Park in Cowley when it opened for its third day of trading on Tuesday.
The charity opened its first shop in the city in 1948.
When Rachel Atherton heard about the store she came looking for something to wear for two upcoming social events.
The 28-year-old says it is “even better than she expected”, adding: “I’ve always been a charity shop-goer, so having a superstore just round the corner seemed ideal.
“Every time you buy clothes, money’s going to a good cause, and you can always donate some of your clothes back again, which seems much more sustainable.”
The store also sells larger goods, such as exercise equipment, washing machines, and fridge-freezers.
Primary school teacher Rosemary O’Reilly, 27, says: “It’s nice to see so much in here, because the small shops in town are difficult to get a lot into.
“I work with children, so I absolutely want to live out the kind of lifestyle I want to be able to encourage them to have.”
James Duke, 39, says he is “shocked” by the size of the store, which is run by 150 volunteers on four days a week.
“There are people who stay away from charity shops because they get this impression that they sell second-hand stuff that people don’t want, but that’s not the case. There’s everything from what I can see. I do like the fact that I go away with something I’m happy with, and at the same time I’m doing some good and helping. Everyone’s a winner, let’s face it.”
This month Oxfam is encouraging people to stop buying new clothes and instead buy used items as part of its Second Hand September campaign.
Hannah Britton, 28, has been buying only second-hand items since January. “I really love Oxfam and I love going to charity shops,” she says. “You find more exciting things when they’re second-hand.”
Hannah, who has picked out some jeans, adds: “I’ve had my eyes really opened to what fast fashion does to people and to the planet. “Lots of materials like dyes and plastics are harmful to the environment. If we reduce the number of things we buy then maybe we can change the face of the planet.”
Julie Neeve, the store’s project manager, says 650 bags and boxes have been donated since opening day on Saturday. She adds: “We’re hoping we’ll continue with the great support we’ve had from the local area, and if this is successful we’d look to roll out more stores next year.”
Via BBC News