Charity revamps store to create designer boutique

Manager Julia Carruthers opens the shop. Picture: Jane Barlow

Manager Julia Carruthers opens the shop. Picture: Jane Barlow

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While the Capital has no shortage of charity shops, a new one that has opened in Bruntsfield is a little bit different.

That’s because rather than picking up well-thumbed paperbacks for 50p or a faded checked shirt for a pound, shoppers will be leaving in designer suits and shoes.

The Salvation Army opened its first “boutique” store in Scotland yesterday.

Among the items on the racks were an Yves Saint Lauren suit and shirt with a combined price tag of just under £160. In the footwear section, a pair of Vivienne Westwood-inspired American flag platform shoes stood out at just £14.99.

And there was no shortage of interest in an Oska bolero jacket for £47.99.

The opening of the Bruntsfield Place branch comes after the success of Shelter Scotland’s annual sale of designer items in Stockbridge.

Manager Julia Carruthers, a fashion graduate, said fresh ideas were key to sustaining the role of charity shops on high streets across the country.

She said: “There are hundreds of charity shops, they are everywhere, and so we wanted to do something different to keep it going. The high street is changing and we needed to find new ways of attracting new customers.”

The Salvation Army shop in Bruntsfield has been around for many years, but was given a complete overhaul prior to yesterday’s grand reopening.

Julia oversaw a week-long refurbishment and will personally select the items which will grace its shelves.

She said: “I studied as a fashion student part-time and then worked here part-time, so I know the area and what sells well.

“I’m good at selling luxury items. That’s why I wanted the things we sold in the boutique to be high-end items because it stands for quality and exclusivity.”

But she stressed that the new look shouldn’t dissuade customers from handing in unwanted goods, as anything that Julia doesn’t choose for the boutique is sent to other Salvation Army charity shops.

She will also source specific items for customers who can’t find what they want in-store and has promised top-notch customer service.

“I’ve got a very discerning eye, I often get people asking if I can track something down for them,” she said.

“Our volunteers are invaluable. This shop is really all about the service as well, that’s what makes a difference.

“The Salvation Trading company runs the charity shops and by selling high-end items that are very popular, we are making a lot of money to contribute to Salvation Army projects all over the world.”