Oxfam’s Superstore: B Corp Market, Library & Photo Studio
UK charity Oxfam is bidding to overhaul charity retailing – and offset its own PR crisis in the wake of the Haiti scandal – with its first superstore. The UK destination will feature a market space for local B Corps, an appliance lending library, and a photography studio for shooting high-value fashion pieces for its e-commerce site.
Located in Oxford in southern England, the 18,500 sq ft superstore (12 times the size of its standard stores) is housed in a hangar-style building within a retail park. Standout features include a lending library for electrical appliances, a gender-neutral clothing department, and a 12-stall market area for local B Corps – businesses certified as meeting the highest standards of social and environmental performance, public transparency and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose. A drive-in donation point has been created to make donating and accepting items easier.
The space also includes photography booths in which to shoot higher-value vintage fashion and homewares pieces, to be posted on Oxfam’s e-commerce site and social media.
The charity further intends the space to be used as a social hub, with community groups and social enterprises able to use in-store meeting spaces for a minimal charge. The shop will also regularly host talks, activities and workshops on eco-focused topics including crafting and upcycling.
The store’s opening coincides with shifting consumer attitudes towards reuse and recycling: the number of people in the UK buying second-hand clothing for sustainable reasons increased by 22.5% in 2017 (Ethical Consumer, 2018).
It’s not the only brand premiumising charity retail to capture this burgeoning consumer interest. In 2017, British department store Selfridges collaborated with US filmmaker, author and artist Miranda July and London arts organisation Artangel on an interfaith charity pop-up designed to comment on the need for inclusivity, integration and borderless support.