Guest blog written by Anna Hughes, Retail Marketing Manager, Crest Co-operative
Social shopping is trending across the UK and the demand for low cost furniture with a social purpose is on the increase.
If you walk down any UK high street, you will find retail stores offering furniture for sale, with a high-interest re-payment plan. This often leaves low income families locked in a struggle with high monthly re-payments.
So it’s no surprise that social enterprises are at the forefront of providing services to modern families on low incomes. Many social businesses are offering an alternative interest-free furniture re-payment option, in a bid to urge shoppers to avoid high interest rates and opt for financial peace of mind.
Crest Co-operative in North Wales has been offering interest free payment plans for more than two years at two community shops.
Thanks to the National Lottery Community Fund, the community co-operative, can now offer low cost furniture, electricals and clothing to hard-to-reach communities in rural areas. Last year Crest Co-operative received a £2, 500 cash injection from the National Lottery Community Fund’s National Lottery Awards for All Wales programme and introduced pop-up shops in rural towns, every month for a year.
Furnishing homes for less
As the Retail Marketing Manager for Crest Co-operative, I often help people to furnish their homes on a low budget. Families can buy small items of furniture from as little as £5.
Crest Furniture Reclaim, in the coastal town of Colwyn Bay, is situated in the heart of a residential area, which has featured in the top 10% most deprived areas in the Welsh Multiple Index of Deprivation. Crest Co-operative works to unlock peoples’ potential, through inclusion, innovation and enterprise, for the benefit of the community.
Pop-up shops in action
Last month the Crest Co-operative retail team, headed along the scenic countryside roads of rural Conwy to the market town of Llanrwst and set up a pop-up shop at Glasdir Conference centre. We met Gareth Hughes from the National Lottery Community Fund, who was keen to see the pop-up shops in action. The funds from the National Lottery Community Fund covered the hire of a room, staffing and transport.
Social shoppers fled to the pop-up shop to browse a range of Crest Co-operative’s refurbished electricals (including fridge freezers, washing machines), second-hand furniture and hand-sorted, nearly new clothing.
Pre-loved items were given a new home and a second-life and Llanrwst shoppers were keen to see the return of pop up shops.
Jean Griffiths said: “It’s a good idea. There are so many good things. It’s great if you’ve got a family. I would definitely come back.”
Jane Smith said: “The standard of the furniture and clothes is high quality. The prices are excellent.”
Catherine Towers said: “It’s ideal. We could do with one every week.”
The Crest Co-operative and National Lottery Community Fund pop-up shops have had the support of Aberconwy AM Janet Finch-Saunders. She said: “What a brilliant idea they are, giving those who cannot travel the opportunity to view and possibly purchase the low cost items provided by Crest, with the added benefit for those on low income of being able to pay by interest free instalments.
“Crest is such an innovative social enterprise, always striving to expand the services to the benefit of the community,” she added.
Crest Co-operative has teamed up with housing association Cartrefi Conwy, to offer pop up shops in Kinmel Bay and Old Colwyn. The pop-up shops have also proved a hit in Llanfairfechan, a town situated on the North Wales coast. For further information about Crest Co-operative visit www.crestcooperative.uk, @crestrecycle on Twitter and crest co-operative on Facebook.