I’ve always been a lover of charity shops – mostly for “vintage” clothing and books that have that good old library smell. I’ve bagged a few of my style staples over the years – simple cardigans or shirts that have long outlasted what has more recently been dubbed ‘fast fashion’ – and I’ve even bought items in charity shops as gifts for loved ones. I’ve grown to find comfort in the (admittedly) rare finds, as well as donating some of my pre-loved items too in turn.
So when the Oxfam superstore was set to open at the beginning of September, I was pretty excited to go and take a look. We’d rocked up early on a Saturday morning, partly to secure some bargains, but mostly to see what such a fantastic idea looked like in execution. Accidentally third in the queue, we really did have the opportunity for a first look. Following the ceremonious snipping of Oxfam bunting, the doors to the first ever charity superstore were opened.
A warm welcome
The place is amazing – and unlike anything I’ve seen before. We walked in and immediately couldn’t believe our eyes – a converted warehouse stacked with colour and culture. I immediately thought that whoever designed the layout of the store (and had the brilliant idea to stock everything by colour) is possibly the best visual merchandiser I’ve come across.
As all charity shops do, it took several sweeps to take it all in. There are hidden gems everywhere. With the Oxfam superstore, the need to circle a few times was magnified. I’d be wandering around and then see somebody walking about with a stunning piece of furniture, or clothing, or whatever else – and wonder how I’d missed it. There’s an air of exclusivity in a place like this too… after all, there’s pretty much only one of everything… but without snobbery. The employees and volunteers I spoke to were down-to-earth and united by the goal to help those in need. We genuinely spent about two hours there, socialising with people, wandering around, stopping for a coffee and soaking it all up.
Not just a charity shop
The thing about the Oxfam superstore is that isn’t ‘just a charity shop’. With a really cool little cafe which was actually built from a water tank just like those that are used in Oxfam’s humanitarian camps – and not a bit of plastic in sight too – the place lives and breathes sustainability, resourcefulness and recycling in every sense of the word.
Oxfam also has a really great range of products that are ‘Sourced by Oxfam’, like shampoos, bamboo lunch boxes (I’ve got one of these myself and I love it!), the well-loved Divine chocolate and more… including a refillable soap station!
Another thing I spotted – which got me pretty excited – was that Oxfam are planning to host several events at the store – things like upcycling with various materials, crochet plant hangers and sessions to get to know Oxfam. I’m definitely going to be signing up for something soon!
A #SecondHandSeptember to remember
Oxfam’s store opening has also aligned with their #SecondHandSeptember campaign, asking people to pledge not to buy anything new (or fast fashion) for the month of September. It’s a brilliant idea – and promotes an important recognition of sustainability and how we can be better.
Armed with a handful of bargains, including a piece of furniture ready for our future house, some books to take on holiday and an adorable Moomin tote bag – as well as a few other bits and pieces – we were surprised to have a bill of just £20. And of course, that’s another huge benefit of ‘saying yes to less’.
I’d definitely recommend checking out the Oxfam superstore – which is in Cowley, Oxford and open four days a week. At the very least, why not pop along and donate some stuff?