The Empty Shop

There are just a couple of days to go now before the Empty Shop project begins in Manchester’s Arndale Centre.

Starting on Thursday 23 January, for the first time in the UK, the concept will bring a unique way of donating clothing to charity over a ten-day period. In a subversion of the traditional shopping process, The Empty Shop works on the principle that the public “bring clothes to the shop instead of taking them from the shop”, according to a promotional video.

A novel approach to giving to charity, the concept is very simple: donate; style-up; empty. People contribute their pre-loved clothing, which is then displayed by the shop’s team of stylists and fashion bloggers. At the end of the day, the clothes will be taken over to Mustard Tree, where they will be distributed to those in need, given to other charities, or sold in our shops.

A collaboration between Mustard Tree, shop and bar fitters Clarke Gough, and Manchester Arndale, The Empty Shop is a Mancunian take on an idea pioneered in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The VillaLobos shopping mall was originally home to ‘A Loja Vazia’ (Brazilian for The Empty Shop), which, in attempting to reinvent the clothing drive, managed to collect 3.2 tons of clothes for charity.

Loducca, the ad agency behind the initiative, also open-sourced the project by making available the shop’s blueprint, key visuals and communication packs so that “anyone who wants to spread goodwill” can use the idea. That’s where Clarke Gough came in; they have been building the wooden pop-up shop over the past few weeks which will be set up on the ground floor, outside Next of Manchester Arndale on Wednesday night, ready for the launch on Thursday.

Mustard Tree extends special thanks to Ben Davies of Clarke Gough, whose dedication to getting the project off the ground has been inspirational. It was Ben who approached Mustard Tree about getting involved, negotiated with Manchester Arndale to provide a free space, and arranged PR for the shop, after seeing the video about the very first Empty Shop.

Speaking to the Manchester Evening News, Ben aimed to dispel any confusion about how the project will work: “You don’t buy the clothes, they get donated by the public each day, displayed in the shop and then the shop gets emptied every night. The clothes are the spectacle and act as a form of exchange to bring people closer to the issue. We think that’s more engaging than asking people for money.”

Mustard Tree is privileged to be in such esteemed company and part of such a great scheme which will raise awareness about homelessness, clothing drives, and the necessity of charity. Here’s hoping the people of Manchester will show their generosity in donating clothes over the ten-day period.

During the shop’s short lifespan you can keep up with what’s going on using the social media handles below:
Twitter: @EmptyShopMCR Facebook: /EmptyShopMCR Instagram: EmptyShopMCR

Written by Jamie Faulkner, Firecask