Shoppers help Bishopston's charity shops buck the national trend

August 30 2013

Gloucester Road is well known for its numerous charity shops, and despite the difficult economic climate, it seems sales of second-hand clothes, furniture and homeware are still going strong.

by Lucy King

Gloucester Road is well known for its numerous charity shops, and despite the difficult economic climate, it seems sales of second-hand clothes, furniture and homeware are still going strong.  Shelter, Bishopston

Last month Oxfam reported a 9.9 per cent drop in net income from shops nationwide, but Gloucester Road’s often-busy charity shops seem to be bucking this trend.
Cancer Research UK has had a store on Gloucester Road for more than 20 years.

Store manager Gemma Fisher said the shop has seen an increase in profits every year and this year has been no different. “I think the number of charity shops on Gloucester Road is a really good thing,” she said. “It seems to be a destination for people who want to browse in all the charity shops and business is doing really well this year.”

Earlier this summer, housing and homelessness charity Shelter opened a new store on the Promenade, Gloucester Road, and it has been a busy first few months.

Julie Kenworthy, head of retail at Shelter, said: “It’s been great to see how busy our new shop has been, but with sales doing so well we now desperately need more donations to keep the shop well-stocked.”

She added: “We’d like everyone locally to search through their wardrobes and donate a bag of pre-loved clothes, books, DVDs or homeware to Shelter. With homelessness in England at a five-year high, we urgently need more donations to help us reach more people. Every item donated helps homeless families find and keep a home.” 

Little Steps, a charity shop  supporting Children’s Hospice South West, has recently celebrated the first anniversary of its launch on Zetland Road. The shop sells a mixture of pre-loved and new goods for under sevens.

Manager Gemma Schofield said it had been a great first year. “We are doing really well, we had a slow start but now lots of people are talking about us and we are always busy with a mixture of regular visitors and new customers.”

Gemma added: “We receive lots of donations from the public, more so here than at our other shops – once we received 58 sacks in one day! We always welcome more donations as they can be shared out across our other stores.”

A spokeswoman for Marie Curie Cancer Care said some of their shops are doing better than others, but overall the charity has been boosted by the warm weather, as people look for second-hand summer clothes while high street shops are already stocking autumn trends.  

The area is also home to the city's first department store style charity shop. The St Peter’s Hospice shop opened in 2011 and is set over two floors with sections for menswear, childrenswear, furniture, books, wedding dresses and vintage clothing. The shop, previously home to Tile Flair, was taken by the charity after its smaller Horfield shop closed. St Peter's Hospice shop, Bishopston

Janet Loud, head of shops, said: “Since opening our Gloucester Road shop we have been overwhelmed by the support from the local community which continues to shop with us and donate unwanted items. Our previous Horfield shop was also a great success and we wanted to remain within the heart of the community.

“This shop is in the centre of our support base, and as the city’s only adult hospice we care for Bishopston families when they need us the most. It’s lovely to see people giving back to the hospice which means so much to many. As a local charity we were started by the people of Bristol, for the people of Bristol and I'd like to say a huge thank you to the Bishopston residents who continue to help us carry on our vital work.”