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This mega charity shop is changing the way we think about fast fashion

Britain's first mega charity shop has launched to incredible success and has big plans for the future

mega charity shop

This is Charity Super.Mkt, Britain's first mega charity shop. Image: Jannine Newman

Bargain hunters listen up. Britain’s first mega charity shop has launched and has its eyes on supplanting fast fashion at the heart of the high street. And every penny has gone to social good. 

Founded by a fashion designer and a charity boss, Charity Super.Mkt just finished a six-week trial at a former Topshop store in north London, selling almost 1,000 items a day to eager customers. 

Started by Wayne Hemingway, founder of iconic fashion brand Red or Dead and Hemingway Designs, and Maria Chenoweth, chief executive of sustainable clothing charity TRAID, the idea is now ready for its second home in an old Topshop in Reading.

“We wanted to make a stir, make noise, change opinions and change hearts and minds positively,” Hemingway said. “We know it works as a concept but the scale of it has taken even us by surprise.”

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Shopping for preloved clothes has boomed over the last decade and the frenzy is only expected to grow in the next few years. It is set to double by 2026 – three times faster than the rest of the clothing market, according to ThredUp’s Resale Report for 2022.

Young shoppers are paving the way. Image: Mykola Romanovsky

An estimated 92 million tonnes of waste is created each year across the globe. That’s the equivalent of a rubbish truck full of clothes ending up in landfill sites every second. So what if we could stop those trucks in their tracks? 

In comes preloved shopping, with climate-conscious Gen Z shoppers driving the hype. Secondhand clothing app Vinted has been downloaded by 75 million people across Europe, the US and Canada, and its rival Depop has more than 26 million users. And in a sign that reselling has gone mainstream, eBay sponsored ITV’s hit Love Island for the second time this year.

But what does this mean for the humble charity shop? Weekend crawls through local secondhand shops might be all the rage, but it also means more competition. When people have a whole new wardrobe ready to be purchased on an app, they are less likely to head to the charity shop frequented by their nan. 

Charity Super.Mkt is making every effort to make bargain hunting cool. There are DJs and bright pops of colour, and every pound goes towards social good. It has partnered with a range of brilliant causes including Marie Curie, Shelter and Barnardo’s. 

Wayne Hemingway and Maria Chenoweth. Image: Jannine Newman

Chenoweth said: “Everybody just seemed to start selling secondhand and using it as a greenwashing exercise. Our challenge was to get charity retailers into a position where they could raise mega bucks for amazing causes and be seen to be the best thing on the high street. We have created a new business model where people are collaborating as opposed to competing.”

The megastore sold 40,000 items of clothing, bringing in £380,000 over its six weeks in Brent Cross, and it is blazing a trail as the industry continues to look for new ways to tackle fast fashion. After Reading, they plan on moving to Manchester – and the possibilities are endless as to where they will go next. 

“We have created a new business model where people are collaborating as opposed to competing,” Chenoweth added. “That is just my dream come true.”

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The Big Issue’s #BigFutures campaign is calling for investment in decent and affordable housing, ending the low wage economy, and millions of green jobs. The last 10 years of austerity and cuts to public services have failed to deliver better living standards for people in this country. Sign the open letter and demand a better future. 

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