Trefoil in Edinburgh charity superstore plan

Bodies would band together in single shopping centre. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Bodies would band together in single shopping centre. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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A CITY charity has unveiled ambitious plans to revolutionise second-hand shopping in the Capital.

Trefoil, which supports children and young people with special needs, hopes to create a large charity “superstore”, in partnership with other charitable organisations which would then take a share of the profits.

David McArthur, chief executive of Trefoil, believes that many of Edinburgh’s charity shops have become run-down and unattractive to shoppers, while some areas have become overpopulated with the outlets.

He said that by creating a brand new larger store, which would stock goods donated to a range of charities in modern surroundings, the social stigma of charity shopping would be removed with benefits for wider society.

Mr McArthur said he believed the model could prove more profitable for charities, as it would reduce overheads, attract more shoppers and appeal to a younger demographic.

Trefoil, which has funds to invest in the ventre, is now hoping other charities will come forward which are willing to enter into partnership.

“In some places, Stockbridge and St John’s Road in Corstorphine, for example, there is a glut of charities competing with each other. They’re taking money out of each other’s pockets,” Mr McArthur said.

“We think it would be a far better utility, both for charities and the public, if we could bank together in one big charity shop.

“It would be good quality, low cost and in a competitive and attractive part of the high street.”

The shop could also stock ethically sourced new goods and include each charity’s branding so that it would retain a noticeable presence in the community, Mr McArthur said. Items would also be put up for sale on the internet.

“We want to make charity shops a positive choice rather than a necessity,” he added. “If it proves a success, Edinburgh could be a blueprint for a roll-out nationally.”

The Charity Retail Association said it was intrigued by the proposal, but said that existing charity shops already brought significant benefits to communities.

Wendy Mitchell, its head of policy and public affairs, said: “The idea of charity shops co-locating an interesting, however it’s important to note that there is enormous social and economic benefit to individual charity shops on the high street.

“They are occupying shops that might otherwise be empty, paying rent to landlords, employing around 1,700 people in Scotland, and investing considerably in creating attractive shops through investment in premises and shop refits, which increases footfall in Scottish town centres.”

City economy leader Councillor Frank Ross said: “We are always interested in new ideas to develop and improve our town centres.”