The youth charity vInspired has today opened the doors of its first charity shop, a boutique fashion store that will be run by young people and sell stock for a young audience.
Research by the charity found that young people identified a number of barriers to shopping in traditional charity shops, often complaining that the stock was old-fashioned. The charity said it aimed to depart from this image with its Goodstock store in Manchester. As well as selling donated goods, it will incorporate event space for regular events, gigs and workshops across its three floors.
Young entrepreneurs will also be invited to use the space to sell their own products and services.
The move represents an attempt to diversify vInspired’s income stream after its turnover fell by about £50m between 2011 and 2012 when the Office for Civil Society significantly reduced its funding. The charity had an income of £7.3m in the year to March 2014.
Jayne Cartwright, director of retail at vInspired, said it had received large numbers of applications to work as volunteers in the store. The experience, she said, would equip these young people with retail and entrepreneurial skills they could use later in professional environments.
Asked if it was a challenge to launch a retail arm for a charity that was not a household name, Cartwright said vInspired viewed this as an opportunity to do something different and create an identity that resonated strongly with its young beneficiaries.
If the Manchester store was a success, she said, the charity would open more in large cities around the country.
She declined to say how much had been spent on the store but said the charity had saved tens of thousands of pounds by getting the shop’s interior design done for free by the London-based design consultancy Atelier Kenelm.
It had also received stock donations from commercial stores, free equipment from universities and discounts from various contractors.
Cartwright said the average charity shop brought in £2,500 a week, but the charity hoped Goodstock would exceed this.
All profits will be reinvested in vInspired to fund the charity’s programmes to increase the skills, confidence and employability of young people.