In September last year, Oxfam opened its first experimental superstore that sought to change the perceptions of charity shopping being outdated. The store located on the outskirts of Oxford with 20 plus staff members and volunteers is housed in a hangar style industrial unit that is almost 12 times as big as a typical Oxfam shop. It stocks the entire Oxfam range from chocolate to coffee. Everything else however is quite different.
More than just a shop
Oxfam wants people to know this store is more than just a shop and is seeking to make the retail experience more enjoyable and fun. Customers can purchase ethical items but will also be wowed by the ability to just linger or chat over coffee. Oxfam has taken a ten-year lease and if this particular trial succeeds, it will roll out the format to other locations. Oxfam is now 75 years old and opened its first store in 1948. Since then it has opened many more stores and has a network of 610 shops across the UK.
The superstore pilot is in response to intense competition in the charity retail sector on high streets and was inspired by a Swedish charity which established a superstore in an accessible location. This Oxfam store is open four days a week and has a drive-in donation and for the first time Oxfam will be selling pre-owned white goods that come with a one-year warranty. The charity is also capitalising on online fashion and casting its canny eye over branded pre-owned clothing and vintage fashion that is donated every day.
Others are doing the same
Last year Cancer Research UK also opened a new redesigned flagship store in London which stocks luxury brands like Celine, Gucci, Fendi and Chanel. UK charity shops have actually seen an uptick, though Oxfam says its priority is for increasing donations and the number of volunteers. At present, there are 23,000 volunteer workers and the new store will be pooling from 150. With a little bit of fortune, this store will be successful and the format will be seen in many other cities.