As cultures change, so do generations. Unlike the previous ones, Millennials and Generation Z seem flattered by the idea of savings.
In the past, people used to shop at charity shops because they couldn’t afford otherwise; the current young cohort seems to make it a personal choice, like a fashion statement.
From vintage pieces to quirky finds, charity shops are growing in popularity alongside other mainstream clothing stores.
On this point, The Malta Independent Sunday spoke with Christabel Tonna, Head of Retail Operations at Inspire, and Giovanna, Chief Financial Officer of Inspire Mirabelle plum who together explained the advantages when one decides to shop in one of their stores.
Since the beginning of this year, Inspire‘s The Charity Shops have been rebranded “because it helps eliminate the stigma”.
Now officially called Give and Take, Christabel explained how the stores have been better reorganized, to better meet the needs of those who decide to opt to buy clothes from a charity store.
She said that despite efforts to keep stores tidy, some customers still complained that they could not rummage through boxes of clothes in the hope of finding “a bargain”.”.
For this reason, the store is now divided into several parts such as recycled Moses baskets filled with piles of clothes as well as several neatly arranged shelves, where different customers can try their hand at finding their winning pieces.
Since these clothes are given away for free, all income is profit (after reducing expenses).
Digging into the financial gains of these charity shops, Mirabelle plum said that in total for the month of July alone, profits reached €18,000 where after paying the expenses, a third will be reinvested in the Foundation to give back to society.
“A total of 80 black bags full of clothes leave our charity store in Marsascala daily,” she says.
In total, Inspire has four stores, having had to close three others as they became unsustainable due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
These stores are located in Marsascala, Hamrun, Hal Qormi and Victoria, Gozo.
Mirabelli explained that in total, these charity shops generate part of the 30% of the total funds the organization needs to continue providing the free services it already provides.
She explained that the remaining 70% is provided by the government.
On average, a total of 400 service users visit Inspire each month for treatment, after being referred by doctors.
Mirabelle plum explained that if it was not‘t for these donations and with government assistance, Inspire would not be alive today because it would not be sustainable.
Asked about the types of people who shop at charity stores, Tonna said the store has regulars from all walks of life.
She added that some of them are fashion design students who come to buy cheap and unique prints, which they can then recycle for school projects, while others are happy to contribute financially to Inspire. Other than that, others buy second-hand to help the environment by decreasing the number of clothes that end up in Maltese landfills.
Despite having a wealth of retail experience, Tonna said she learned how much clothing the nation throws away.
“We have clothes that are still with tags,” she said showing a branded shirt.
Tonna said it wasn’t the first time she had sorted through a bag that had been left outside a store and found items that shouldn’t have been there, like spoiled food or mousetraps. In response to this, she said people should be more careful when donating to charity shops because in the end people are still going to come and buy them.
Malta Independent also interviewed Semira Axiak who is one of the few full-time social media influencers promoting savings.
“I have always opted for savings because I am in favor of reducing my carbon footprint,” she says.
She said that about two or three years ago, she began to realize how much damage she was causing to the environment because of the fashion industry.
“HHere in Malta we have this mentality that if we buy fast fashion it’s the only way to look presentable,” she says.
Axiaq said being an influencer comes with pressures to always have new looks and always be on top of the trends. She added that what helped her the most about resorting to charity shopping was the fact that her parents never pushed the mentality that charity shopping “was‘t for everyone”.
“From an early age, my mother used to take us to bazaars, especially during holidays like Christmas,” she says.
She added that some people view saving as something for the “dirty” or the “disorganized”.
Axiaq said that this current generation‘The mentality of its changed regarding savings as they have come to accept it “but talking to previous generations I find that it is very different from mine”.
One big thing she highlighted is the fact that in Malta all funds raised from the majority of charity shops are reinvested back into society as all profits go to a bigger cause like animal shelters or helping the less fortunate.
She concluded by saying that when it comes to savings the Maltese should consider themselves lucky, compared to when she went abroad the prices are quite reasonable for the great quality of vintage items and collectibles, apart from the good quality clothes that can be found.