The Empty Shop Manchester

During the Christmas period, I visited Manchester rather frequently and being from a small town and also being quite naive, I was in shock to see the amount of homeless people on the streets. It was a cold, blistery night when I was walking to Piccadilly rail station and four or five people approached me for change - all of which looked like they hadn't seen a warm fire or a slice of bread in months. What shocked me the most was coming across a frail old man with his pet dog beside him, it was raining heavily and he chose to cover the dog rather than himself. I searched my pockets for change and felt terrible that I had none. Upon returning home, I decided to write a post titled 'Spare a Thought This Christmas' as my way of promoting charities that help with homelessness. 

Only a month or so later, I saw a shop being promoted on Twitter and asking for bloggers to help out. I had no idea what I was applying for, but offered my services. Shortly after a little bit of googling, I came across the concept of The Empty Shop and after seeing that they wanted to help homeless people in Manchester, I wanted to help out more than ever.

The Empty Shop currently located in the Manchester Arndale is based on a Brazilian idea, where a pop up shop is created and people bring their old clothing to be donated to charity - in this case, the local homeless charity The Mustard Tree. The clothes are then styled on Mannequins and displayed around the shop to convince other shoppers to donate clothes and also to show off the fabulous styles which can be created with second hand fashion. This idea began in Brazil, has since crept into Europe and now Manchester Arndale is the first place to have this in the UK. The Empty Shop were looking for bloggers to come down, promote the store and style the shop and mannequins in their own unique way.

Yesterday I headed to Manchester for a few hours to offer my help. By the time I had arrived there had already been one donation on that day, but the store looked rather empty. The mannequins had no clothes to wear and the shelves looked bare. By lunchtime, the shop began rapidly transforming as the clothes started coming in and filling out of all the empty space. We now had items to dress the mannequins and clothing to show the visitors to the Arndale.

The Empty Shop have been lucky to receive a great amount of high quality clothing from the general public. Knowing that charity shops can often get torn pieces of clothes thrown into bin bags, all the donations we received yesterday were from the likes of Zara, Topshop and even Ralph Lauren. A highly stylish young man that you could instantly tell shopped in high end stores such as Selfridges and Harvey Nichols, walked proudly into The Empty Store donating several bags full of items. Another man that came in brought several pairs of walking shoes and insisted that each pair was given to man on the streets rather than been sold in the charity shop. It was fantastic to see the generosity of the general public and knowing that by the end of the day, all these clothes would be taken away, sent to a charity shop and sold with all the profits helping those that need it the most within our own country.

It wasn't just the people of Manchester donating clothing to the store, brands within the Arndale and Manchester donated brand new goods, including online dress retailer They donated some of the most beautiful evening wear from dresses with lots of sequins to others with beautiful polka dots and a bright red lace piece perfect for Valentines Day. 

It wasn't just Little Black Dress that took to the charitable spirit, Ann Summers from the Arndale also donated a small selection of brand new underwear, all in colours perfect for Valentines Day and the upcoming months.

Someone passing by also dropped in a bag full of clothes and in the bottom of the bag were these beautiful Steve Madden shoes. They looked almost brand new and became a fantastic centre piece for the shelves behind the desk. I would have loved these shoes for myself if they wasn't a size 4 - they looked tiny, yet charming.

Unfortunately I had to leave in the middle of the afternoon, but as I left the shop was already looking full. It was amazing to see this empty shop being transformed in a matter of hours to a pop up store full of wonderful clothing. As I left the team told me that over the space of just a few days 95 people had donated to the charity and behind the desk, they had pictures of everyone to prove it. When I came home, I checked Twitter to find out that @Emptyshopmcr had finally hit the 100 donation mark and with the store still open until Sunday, I'm sure they will be getting many more.

If you are local to Manchester or if you are popping by the Arndale anytime soon, please take time out to donate clothing to the Empty Store where all the clothing will be delivered to the Manchester based charity The Mustard Tree for selling. I donated a few clothes yesterday and my time and I'm feeling so much better for it.

The Empty Shop is open from 9am - 8pm until Sunday 2nd February.

Have you been to The Empty Shop?


  1. Oh my goodness i didn't know about this what an amazing idea ! I'm going to get a few things together to take! I live in Manchester and I hate seeing homeless people all the time its really sad but i am sometimes a bit unsure if to give money cause they often are alcoholics and i would want to give money so they can buy drink! This is a great idea and better than just giving spare change.
    Love this post :) Going to find you on twitter to share it !
    Love your blog too !!

    Alex ox.

  2. What a fantastic idea, well done for getting involved. I've done a few charity shop runs recently, need to do some more with my clutter :)


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