Well, The Empty Shop has finished for another year.
For ten days the pop-up charity shop concept returned to Manchester Arndale to collect pre-loved clothes, which were then styled and sorted by volunteers. At the end of every day the clothes were taken away to be weighed and the whole thing would begin again in the morning.
Mustard Tree was once more overwhelmed by the generosity of the people of Manchester, not only those who were kind enough to donate their clothing but also those who helped with the day-to-day running of the shop.
Businesses gifted bag after bag of garments and some people literally gave us the clothes off their back: at one point a girl launched a bobble hat from afar and then offered a top she had in her rucksack!
The Empty Shop team was made up of Mustard Tree staff and volunteers, as well as staff from our corporate friends and local businesses: FireCask, Parsons Brinckerhoff, ThoughtWorks, Turley Associates & Manchester City Council all lent a helping hand.
The wider aim was to raise awareness of the problems faced by people who are homeless and marginalised in the Manchester area but we were also hoping to beat last year’s total because clothes either go directly to those in need or proceeds from their sale go to charity.
And…*drum roll*….WE DID IT!
8,225 items of clothing were donated, equating to nearly 2.2 tones and beating last year’s results. 24 business and 14 brands got involved, with the brands alone donating £42,000 worth of clothing. The quality of clothes this time round was even higher than last year – we spotted several gorgeous leather jackets in the mix – meaning they’ll have a better re-sale value, which in turn means more funds going directly back into Mustard Tree so we can continue to support those most in need. For comparison, The Empty Shop 2014 raised 7,550 garments, weighing 2 tonnes. So, well done everybody!
We weren’t the only ones involved too. The Empty Shop Manchester was one of 13 similar projects around the world, which managed to collect a total of 31 tonnes across 4 different countries.
To put that global total into perspective, imagine 31 polar bear-sized bags of clothes and you’ll get an idea. The first ever project took place in Sao Paulo and collected 3.2 tonnes – so that shows you just how far a simple idea can come.
After The Empty Shop came to an end, we held a sale of the items at newly-opened Ziferblat on Edge Street in the Northern Quarter, raising a further £860, with 230 people attending to buy the donated items. We’re planning to have more sale events throughout 2015 so please keep an eye on facebook and twitter for more details.
Once again, a great big thank you from everyone at Mustard Tree to all the individuals and businesses who donated clothing. To Clarke Gough, Manchester Arndale and Purple Riot for their continued support. And another thank you to all our hard-working volunteers; from carrying heavy bags of clothes to dressing the mannequins, we couldn’t have done it without you!
See you again next year…!
Written by Jamie Faulkner, FireCask