Louise Wilson

‘Using design thinking to help local charity shops’

The project used design thinking and social research combined to help solve the challenges facing local and independent charity shops.

Recent developments such as Oxfam boutique shops, ‘vintage/retro’ privately run shops, celebrity supported and ‘swap shops’ are successful models of charity shops aimed at increasing second hand shopping. However, local charity shops do not always have the support and public relations backing of national charities. Using the national models as a basis, I looked at how the challenges that face local charity shops could be resolved using design thinking.

The design project was carried out to look at the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats facing local/independent charity shops so that a big picture of their key challenges could be identified. Using design thinking and creative social innovation skills the key challenges faced by these shops were identified.

Co-opportunity/partnership projects could then be developed between the shops and the local community. The aim was to help improve an aspect of the chosen shop with the intention of increasing sales by increasing community involvement.

The main output is a tool kit which allows the results of the study to be rolled out to other shops in a similar situation. This leaves a legacy which helps charity shops to be more appealing places to work in and shop in, therefore improving sales and raising money for their charities in the future.

The outcomes of the study showed that charity shops can resolve a large number of the challenges they face by being creative and employing a design thinker to help generate solutions. Tools that are simple to engage with can be created to encourage the end user (volunteers) to think more creatively.

drop louise a line at: louise@cactusdesign.info