Charity Super.Mkt is the first ever pop-up charity shop hosting multiple charities inside one large retail unit. It has launched today at Brent Cross Shopping Centre and Emmaus is one of 10 charities to be sharing the space.
Emmaus became involved through Wayne Hemingway who was taking part in Celebrity Mastermind – his specialist subject being the history of the charity shop. Wayne connected with me in October 2022 asking for some history on Emmaus and then he followed up to explain this new concept for a charity supermarket.
Straight away, I loved the idea of Charity Super.Mkt and knew some of our Emmaus communities and shops would love to be a part of it too. The concept is unique as it’s not only collaborative, working between communities, we are also working together with nine other charities. This will not only raise awareness of sustainability and charity shopping, but also raise awareness around our charities and the people we support.
One of the most exciting parts for me about the whole process was being able to work together on a large scale with Emmaus communities, companions, staff and outside organisations. Hemingway Designs, TRAID and the other charities have all contributed together really well, having key inputs to ensure everything is in place ready for launch.
It has been an amazing experience working with the companions and staff from Emmaus Hertfordshire and Emmaus Greenwich on this shared initiative. The enthusiasm and support for a new project has at times been overwhelming. The welcome I received when I went to take equipment down was amazing, with companions keen to show me their stock. They had already sorted for the event and one companion from Greenwich who had previously attended a workshop with me knew what to sort and select for this venture. That was a key moment for me.
Project managing store setups and launches in previous roles has enabled me to ensure everything we needed to succeed was in place. Having the knowledge and experience to ask the right questions to the right people has ensured things have run pretty smoothly. I had created a visual merchandising guide and gave the teams the brand awareness list when I first came to Emmaus. This supported the expectations on standards, with both communities already having a high level of visual merchandising within their shops. This meant the conversations we were all having were from the same page which made it a lot easier to engage remotely.
As soon as we agreed to be part of Charity Super.Mkt at Brent Cross Shopping Centre, it was all systems go. The key thing for me has been good communication all the way. On some days there has been numerous emails and Teams meetings with regards to the logistics behind everything – from merchandising and support with the till systems to ensuring health and safety compliance. The list goes on!
It might sound a bit of a cliche but I have honestly enjoyed every minute of the build up to the launch of Charity Super.Mkt. Knowing how much potential for raising awareness and also the opportunity to engage in different projects in the future, has kept me so positive throughout. There is so much potential for us to be involved in future Charity Super.Mkt pop-ups as it’s a different model which forms part of the future of charity retail and we need to be ready to develop and embrace those changes with a positive impact.
One of the biggest challenges I encountered was being based so far away from Brent Cross and the two Emmaus communities involved. I kept in regular contact and connected with each of the charities and their lead contacts. I ensured I attended all the meetings and went prepared with lots and lots of questions to ensure I was up to date, aware of everything and able to share information with the teams. The other challenge I had was that previously, when doing new store set ups, I had always worked with a guided checklist. This time we had to create one as we went along.
Since joining Emmaus, I am a strong ambassador for the amazing work happening throughout Emmaus in the UK and keen that we do more to shout louder. When the Charity Super.Mkt opportunity first arose, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to raise awareness for the whole of Emmaus whilst having a positive impact for the Emmaus communities involved. Both communities are very keen to raise our profile, not only with the general public but within the charity sector, and this makes me feel proud to be part of.
My hope for the Charity Super.Mkt concept is that it grows across the country. It’s a great opportunity for all Emmaus communities and groups to take part in. Through learnings, a best practice guide and checklists which I am in the process of completing, we’ll definitely be ready for the next one. By taking part in initiatives like these, working together better and shouting louder about who we are and what we do, my hope is that more people will come to Emmaus to shop, donate items, volunteer or support us in some other way.
For those of you able to get to Charity Super.Mkt over the coming weeks, my message is “you snooze, you lose” – get down there as soon as you can. Seriously, this is an amazing opportunity to bag some fab items and see what charity shopping is all about. There may still be the stigma in some people’s eyes around smelly shops and holes in clothes, but this is nothing like that. Charity Super.Mkt is a high end, quality retail experience which supports a range of good causes. It’s also an opportunity for you to shop more sustainably and hopefully for new people to fall in love with charity shopping too.