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15th November 2023

Garms for good: Fast-growing phenomenon Charity Super.Mkt arrives in Manchester this autumn

Charity Super.Mkt is the first of its kind in the UK, a multi-charity supermarket which is being hosted in MediaCity until December 13
Garms for good: Fast-growing phenomenon Charity Super.Mkt arrives in Manchester this autumn
Credit: Anna Hindmarsh @ The Mancunion

On November 2, Charity Super.Mkt set up camp in MediaCityUK and will be stocking its rails with curated second-hand looks until December 13. This is the UK’s first-ever multi-charity supermarket and it has never been to Manchester before.

This charity initiative is aimed at young people in the hopes of promoting sustainable shopping habits and circular fashion. It typically chooses locations like MediaCityUK and has previously taken place in Brent Cross Shopping Centre, both of which are hotspots for fast-fashion shoppers. The aim of this is to situate second-hand clothing where people already are, rather than people having to go out of their usual shopping spots to find them. 

It also highlights the benefits of charity shopping, as it’s located in the midst of highly-priced high street chains. Charity Super.Mkt demonstrates a contrast in the cheaper pricing and uniqueness of the charity second-hand rails. Shoppers are likely to be drawn into rummaging through the rails all day, rather than spending much more money for something much less original in a fast-fashion shop.

It is the brainchild of fashion designer Wayne Hemingway who co-founded the brand Red or Dead, and Maria Chenoweth, the CEO of sustainable clothing charity TRAID (which is my favourite charity shop!). They began by selling at The Classic Car Boot Sale, and together they’ve crafted a way to level up second-hand shopping, launching their first shopping centre pop-up earlier this year in January 2023.

On arrival, the pop-up was packed from wall to wall with colourful rails of clothing from charities including All Aboard, Age UK, Havens Hospices, and St Vincent de Paul Society, as well as community donations. It felt like one long high street packed into a treasure trove of rails.

Credit: Anna Hindmarsh @ The Mancunion

Despite the charity supermarket being aimed at young people, looking around there were shoppers of all ages and the rails reflected a vast diversity of sizes, styles, and prices appealing to all genders. From personal experience at other second-hand pop-ups that claim to be ‘curated’, this diversity of style and sizes can be hard to come by. A lot of the time pop-ups like this will only stock ‘trendy’ pieces for smaller sizes which only appeals to a small group of shoppers.

However, these rails had everything, which was something I really appreciated. It was for everyday shoppers and day-to-day fashion. It really made sure to send the message that second-hand shopping is for everyone and can be great for everyday looks as well as striking one-off vintage finds.

The types of brands available ranged from lower-end clothing like Pretty Little Thing and H&M to more high-end like D&G. It gave the impression that the clothes were compiled with the intent of encouraging people to buy their usual wardrobe but second-hand, sending the message that there’s no need to deviate from your usual styles and favourite brands to shop sustainably.

Based on this I would say that it’s not somewhere to go if you’re looking to rummage through really unique and vintage pieces, because the majority of the rails are everyday clothing essentials from high street brands.

The pop-up was very well thought out and lots of effort had been put into creating a memorable experience while shopping. There were decks set up so that people could shop to music and the walls were decorated with colourful adverts. These are all features you would rarely find in a local charity shop on the high street, so it made the shopping experience feel more like a boutique.

As mentioned, this is happening in the era of the major popularisation of second-hand shopping. There has been an increase in Depop and Vinted users, and The Guardian reports that “Charity shops experienced an 11% rise in sales in the three months to the end of September, according to the Charity Retail Association, while Oxfam said sales rocketed by 40% in the run-up to Christmas as shoppers turned to their local high street for sustainable presents.”

There have been lots of similar initiatives to this one, such as companies like LoveNotLandfill which advocates for similar causes, but most of these pop-ups tend to be in London. It’s great to see that Charity Super.Mkt is beginning to make its way across the UK.

As a student, charity shopping is a good way to go as it’s budget-friendly and eco-friendly, so essentially guilt-free!

This new pop-up is open in MediaCityUK until December 13. If you’re in need of some new winter essentials that won’t break the bank, then this is a great place to go treat yourself after a long day of studying.

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