Disrupting the charity sector

Gary - 3 rd December 2019

Retailing is changing before our very eyes and as well-known brands vacate the high street some are being replaced by charity shops.

Now, I don’t know what jumps into your mind when you think about the charity sector, but to me it has a few real big pluses such as being a great place to get rid of stuff and make me feel good about myself or a good place to do a bit of volunteering… and make me feel good about myself. I have to confess though that since my poverty-stricken student days I haven’t actually shopped at one (as a student I picked up a karate suit for 20p, it was wonderful, I only threw it away when we cleared out my dad’s house last year… I gave it to a charity shop).  So, imagine my thoughts when I bobbed in to see the Oxfam superstore in Oxford a couple of weeks ago. I thought it would just be a bigger version of the jumbled mess you see in this image, but I was surprised, it sets new standards.

Messy shop1
So, let me take you around this little beauty.

It’s got a nice, efficient entry point which reminds you of why it is there and where your money goes. It can’t be too flash of course; it has to align with the charity’s proposition.

Unquestionably, the basics are being delivered at every turn. You feel that you are going to like it the moment you walk in as you are hit with an explosion of colour and joyfulness.  A whole mass of ornaments, trinkets, small tapestry’s, purses and all sorts of other stuff. All new but made in Africa. Authentic and unique, I loved it, and immediately went into ‘buy’ mode. It was well merchandised and everywhere there was colour, colour, colour and a fabulous busy, bazaar type atmosphere.


The till area was excellent, efficient and clear but there are constant reminders of why you are shopping there but done in a happy way.

At the end, as you leave there is a café designed in the style of a large water container which is a unique place to sit and a clever way of reminding you of what is needed.

I also reminded me that this is actually a great example of peak-end theory in retailing. A stunning opening and a great goodbye. It’s captured the mood of the moment and hopefully it will capture a few more quid to create ‘a just world without poverty’, that is their vision.


Gary is the chairman and one of the original founders of Brand Vista. With over 20 years of brand experience both on the client and agency side he loves finding out what customers and consumers are really thinking and turning this knowledge into compelling brand propositions that succeed in the real world.
Find out more about Gary