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Thames Hospice

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About Thames Hospice

Thames Hospice is a charity providing care for people living with life-limiting illnesses. It cares for physical, social, and psychological needs of its patients. Its services include therapy, nursing and medical care, as well as practical and emotional support.

Headquarters Location

Windsor, England,

United Kingdom

+44 1753842121

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Latest Thames Hospice News

Charity clothing stores turn to Depop and Instagram as they head upmarket with vintage and designer items

Oct 30, 2022

download the app Email address By clicking ‘Sign up’, you agree to receive marketing emails from Insider as well as other partner offers and accept our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy . Britain's charity shops are changing. They're selling more designer and vintage items, creating listings on Depop, and carefully curating their social-media profiles — all targeted mainly at appealing to the growing number of Gen Z shoppers. Clothing displayed in an Oxfam store in Chiswick. Grace Dean/Insider Even before the pandemic, charity shops had been experiencing a fall in visitor numbers and sales volume, Kate Avenell, head of retail development at Save the Children, told Insider. But coming out of the pandemic, customers showed a "significant shift" both to vintage and retro fashions and to charity shops as more people focused on sustainability , Maria Broomheadsmith, Sue Ryder's retail sales manager for the Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire region, said. Donna McGinnigle, project manager at the British Heart Foundation, said there had been a "huge surge" of Gen Z and student shoppers who were visiting stores "in droves." "Things don't stay on the shop floor for long," Avenell added. Clothing displayed in a Mary's Living and Giving store in Chiswick. Grace Dean/Insider Tamara Sender Ceron, associate director fashion retail at market-research company Mintel, told Insider that 26% of people aged 16 to 34 had used marketplace apps like Depop and Vinted over the past year. Ceron added that while many Gen Zs are expected to continue to buy from fast-fashion giants, "there is growing awareness about the impact on the environment and a pushback from some in this generation is likely to turbo-charge the second-hand and rental/subscription markets." Charities have cashed in on this. Some have opened stores just for vintage or designer donations. Sue Ryder, for example, has opened dedicated Vintage and Retro stores, while Save the Children has partnered with retail expert and TV personality Mary Portas to create upmarket Mary's Living and Giving stores. The exteriors of a Thames Hospice Vintage & Retro shop in Windsor; a Shelter Boutique store in Peckham; and a Mary's Living and Giving store in Chiswick. Grace Dean/Insider Other stores still have rows of secondhand clothing from the likes of Topshop, Primark, and H&M, but have an aisle or display specifically for vintage items. A focus on bargain-hunting, changing fashions, and sustainability is driving young people to buy clothes secondhand, the managers told Insider. Charity shops typically have much lower prices than vintage stores – and shoppers get the feel-good factor when they buy from them, knowing their money will help a worthy cause, the managers said. Clothing displayed in a British Heart Foundation store in Newcastle. Grace Dean/Insider Buying online on fashion-resale sites isn't as much fun as scouring charity shops for bargains, either. "That kind of treasure hunt experience is magic," Avenell said. But Britain's more than 11,000 charity shops , in the past often stigmatized and associated with elderly people and cheap, poor-quality goods, have had to work hard to change their image and cater to what young shoppers want. Shops have been overhauling their interiors to make them more akin to vintage stores, with staff and volunteers getting training on visual merchandising so that they can curate attractive displays. Products displayed inside a Thames Hospice Vintage & Retro shop in Windsor. Grace Dean/Insider This includes using chalkboards, neon signs, and plants to make displays more attractive. In some cases the products are displayed using items of vintage furniture, like tables, chests, and shelving units – which are sometimes for sale themselves – and it can feel more like you're in a boutique than a charity shop. Items displayed on a table in a Shelter Boutique store in Peckham. Grace Dean/Insider Often the clothing displays are peppered with books, shoes, accessories, and bric-a-brac, which drives interest in the other items and means displays can be curated to match certain color schemes, trends, or moods. The interior of a Mary's Living and Giving store in Chiswick. Grace Dean/Insider The managers told Insider that they decorate each store differently, reflecting on the building's architectural features as well as the local community, history, and people of interest. Features include painted windows, murals by local artists, and even a greenhouse in a Save the Children store in Glasgow and a mini glass house at the Mary's Living and Giving store in Kew in tribute to the buildings at the nearby Royal Botanic Gardens. "We show up on the high street with a bang," Avenell told Insider, adding that there was "lots of work on retail design, on the experiential aspect of charity shopping. "  Clothing displayed in a Mary's Living and Giving store in Chiswick. Grace Dean/Insider Avenell said that Save the Children works with local artists who create works such as murals for the stores. She said that there were "lots of things going on to really bring spaces to life rather than that cookie-cutter corporate approach." Stores have to be quick to adapt their displays to constantly changing trends. McGinnigle said the British Heart Foundation's stores are quick to tap into what consumers want, with displays both inside and in the window dedicated to trends like music festivals such as Glastonbury, the TV series "Love Island" and "Stranger Things," and the Kate Bush revival in the summer. "Because they can put their hands on such a diverse range of stock, you can pull all that out the back that yesterday probably nobody wanted and today it's hot topic, it's at the forefront and they get it out there on the shop floor," McGinnigle said. Clothing displayed in a Shelter Boutique store in Peckham. Grace Dean/Insider But these store formats don't work everywhere. The managers told Insider their retro and vintage stores were largely in urban areas with large student populations. McGinnigle said the British Heart Foundation had stores with dedicated vintage sections in cities including Nottingham, Bristol, Manchester, and Newcastle – all of which are heavily populated by students. Avenell said Save the Children developed its Gen Z-focused stores in urban areas, and its premium stores with designer goods in affluent markets. But the stores can sell their goods for more if they list them online, where they can reach a much wider audience. "If something lands in your shop that's bang on trend, but you are in a traditional village-y town with older people, it's not necessarily gonna sell," McGinnigle said. "Yet, if you put it online, it will be snapped up in minutes." Clothing displayed in a Shelter Boutique store in Peckham. Grace Dean/Insider E-commerce for charity shops is completely different than for retailers that sell large batches of new products. Listing items on fashion-reselling sites like Depop can take a significant amount of time and effort for the stores, which are mainly staffed by volunteers. Listings are only worth uploading if the items will fetch a significant amount of money. COVID-19 lockdowns were a main catalysts for charities starting to list items online. Non-essential retail stores had to shut their doors for months during the pandemic, which the Charity Retail Association estimates cost UK charity shops about £28 million ($32 million) a month. McGinnigle said the British Heart Foundation started listing items on Depop following a suggestion from a store manager. She said some of the items the charity listed were vintage but they were predominantly "hot right now" items, including coveted items that had sold out at retailers. Individual store managers upload the items to Depop, McGinnigle said. In total, the British Heart Foundation has sold more than 3,000 items on Depop. Recent sales include a pair of mint green Nike Air Jordans that sold for £40 (about $46), and a vintage Burberry skirt that went for £50 ($57). Oxfam has thousands of items listed on its website. Some charities are also listing items on Thriftify, an ecommerce marketplace specifically for charity retailers. Clothing displayed in a Royal Trinity Hospice store in Angel. Grace Dean/Insider Another way charity shops have been targeting Gen Z shoppers is by carefully curating their social-media presence. Gone are the days when each charity just had one Instagram account – some stores now have their own pages where they post photos of new stock and show off the shop's decor. "It's a great vehicle for talking to that younger audience," Avenell said. A post shared by British Heart Foundation (@britishheartfoundation.glasgow)   It's not just the stores creating their own content. At Sue Ryder, customers are sharing content, too, including posting clips of what they buy on Instagram and TikTok. Some people choose to resell their clothes online on sites like Depop, Poshmark, and Vinted, where they can fetch considerable sums of money if they're vintage or designer. But, as the aisles of charity shops across the UK show, a lot of people do choose to donate them. Clothing displayed in a Shelter Boutique store in Peckham. Grace Dean/Insider Compared to reselling online, donating to charity shops creates a feel-good factor and community spirit, the managers told Insider. Broomheadsmith said that some people donated good-quality items because they were clearing out the home of a late loved one and didn't have the capacity to sell items online while they were grieving. And some people donating vintage items simply don't realize they're valuable, McGinnigle said. "A lot of it comes from that older customer that's just clearing out what they were wearing 40 years ago." Products displayed inside a Thames Hospice Vintage & Retro shop in Windsor. Grace Dean/Insider The one-off nature of donations can make it hard to maintain attractive displays as items are constantly sold and new donations are brought in. The managers said that staff and volunteers at the charity shop had guidance, and in some cases training, on how to spot vintage, designer, and on-trend items to showcase — as well as on how to price them. Clothing displayed in a Royal Trinity Hospice store in Angel. Grace Dean/Insider "Our shop teams are very much always on the hunt for the treasure," McGinnigle said. "Half the fun of it is you never know what you're going to get." "We've just got that constant stream of donations coming in all the time, which the guys just then fast track out to the shop floor," McGinnigle said. "It's like an ever-continuing cycle." Broomheadsmith said Sue Ryder analyzed sales data to decide which items to feature where. "Even though it's a charity, we run the retail side, like I would've done as a regional manager at Coast." Bric-a-brac displayed in a Shelter store in Chiswick. Grace Dean/Insider As well as donations of vintage items, a seamstress at Sue Ryder's Hockley store upcycles old items including curtains, bed sheets, and blankets into clothes, Broomheadsmith said. Some of the designer items, meanwhile, come from corporate donations. Avenell said Save the Children had received stock from "high-end" brands including Vivienne Westwood, Matches, and Alexander McQueen. Cashing in on the demand for vintage and designer items could be crucial for charities as they emerge from the pandemic. Sign up for notifications from Insider! Stay up to date with what you want to know. Subscribe to push notifications

Thames Hospice Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

  • When was Thames Hospice founded?

    Thames Hospice was founded in 1995.

  • Where is Thames Hospice's headquarters?

    Thames Hospice's headquarters is located at Windsor.

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