After reading a post from a charity shop showing a display under the heading ‘looking more like an upmarket retailer than a charity shop’, I wondered is there anything really wrong with being a charity shop that looks like one? Today charity shops have come on leaps and bounds, with the vast majority of stores that you might visit, being not so much a jumble sale but a neatly presented selection of different departments. Hasn’t this notion of charity shops changed, why does it still seem to have negative connotations. There is a danger in the kind of stores that have really started standardising themselves and aiming to appear very high street, starting to loose all sense of individuality which is what charity shops do best. There are quite a few chains of charity shops that have adopted this approach, where they all look the same, all white walls, identical windows, wooden floors and standardised pricing. Whilst this can be pleasant for the shopper, the shop becomes a bit bland and unmemorable, but of course if it makes money for the charity then that approach has to have its place. But is it really what charity shops should be aiming for. It’s hard to find the balance between presenting your stock attractively and appealing to a wide customer base whilst still creating an environment that invites your customer to explore and get excited by finding unexpected items. Some of the most interesting shops to visit are those that create their own character, embracing their local market and making the most of the donations they get. These treasure trove stores are more like an experience to visit, with there unusual displays and quirky merchandising. Better for a shop to aspire to look like itself and be a little bit rough around the edges than a run of the mill high street retail store. At the end of the day the charity shops you will find yourself remembering are usually those that have embraced their community and let their teams drive their creative identities….