In two series of BBC Two’s Mary, Queen Of Shops, retail guru Mary Portas turned around the fortunes of struggling independent fashion boutiques across the UK. Now Mary’s taking on her toughest challenge yet, turning her steely gaze to a much neglected sector of the fashion market: charity shops.
Mary believes charity shops represent a key part of the future of shopping: a vast number of consumers worry about ethical shopping and the environment and charity shops provide a route to a greener way to shop where everybody wins.
But by getting to grips with the likes of MIND, Barnardo’s, The North London Hospice and Save the Children, will she be able to work her magic on places more famous for the smell of their clothes than the smell of success? We’re about to find out.
All but the top three charity shops are struggling to grab the attention of shoppers in a climate where they should be cashing in. A recession and the environmental crisis mean customers are counting the pennies and trying to live greener lives, yet they’re ignoring these shops, despite their low-cost stock and a free recycling service to anyone that wants to clear out their homes or wardrobes.
Mary believes the time has come for charity shops to become a serious contender on the high street but most are crying out for help.
In Mary’s words: “They’re where clothes and bric-a-brac go to die and I’m making it my mission to breathe new life into them and to make them a shopping destination.”
In Mary, Queen Of Charity Shops, a three-part series for BBC Two, Mary has five months to change the nation’s attitudes and prove that charity shops can be as good a place to shop as the nation’s favourite high street retailers and to do it she’s going to be donning a tabard and running her own charity shop.
And she’s promised to help every charity on every high street by solving the biggest problem facing them today – the terrible donations we land at their doors.