When I was younger and first discovered the joy of charity shops, I fantasised that one day I would open my own and instead of a dull interior and lifeless, mismatched garments, I would have vibrant window displays, an area for customising clothes and generally make this (imaginary) shop look like the complete opposite of its friends further along the high street. When I first walked in to the newly opened CLIC Sargent Shop on Gloucester Road, it felt as if my dream had been realised.
Once home to cafe-cum-bar Hatters, the retail space had been deserted over the winter months but the location, in the heart of Gloucester Road, has proved perfect for CLIC Sargent’s first ever dedicated vintage shop. A lot of thought has gone in to the visual merchandising of the store, which opened officially a few weeks ago on 5th February. In many charity shops it is a given that it takes a certain amount of rummaging to find a a vintage gem but here kitsch crockery, costume jewellery, decades worth of dresses and old vinyal records are par for the course. The rail of fake fur coats and artwork by local artist Hugo Good adds to the boutique feel of Shop.
When I popped in a couple of weeks ago Shop’s deputy manager Helen Bowden even remarked that “many customers don’t even realise we are a charity shop – passers by are curious and looking for vintage clothes or accesories”. Although the work the shop does is paramount (as the UK’s leading cancer charity for children and young people CLIC Sargent support and fundraise for families and individuals across the nation) the fact that they are capitalising on the current trend for all things vintage will be key to it’s success. Along with Cotham Hill and Clifton Village, Gloucester Road is a hotspot for some of the city’s best charity shops and it is fantastic that CLIC Sargent have identified what savvy shoppers want from charity shops.
CLIC Sargent already have eight charity shops in Bristol but Shop on Gloucester Road is their first dedicated vintage clothing shop. The staff are young and stylish, though this isn’t a prerequisite for volunteering, and the stock is regularly updated, and promoted via their Facebook page. There are knitted jumpers, strings of acrylic beads and furniture too, as well as handmade goods by local Bristol craft makers, all at reasonable prices.
If Shop proves to be a success CLIC Sargent may well roll dedicated vintage stores out across the country so make sure you check it out next time you take a wander along Gloucester Road.