Habitat staff had a month-long take-over of our charity boutique, Number 53 Leather Lane.
To celebrate 150 years of trading, the Sainsbury’s Group, which owns the furniture and design store Habitat, asked staff to connect with local communities and find ways to give something back. It was Lisa Hawkins, Senior Talent Partner, based at Habitat’s head office in Saffron Hill who popped into Age UK Camden’s shop to see about a summer collaboration.
“This shop really stands out in Leather Lane. You see all sorts of people pop in wanting DVDs, unable to resist the fashion rail or maybe starting up home and wanting pots and pans. We are only two streets away and there are lots of creative people in our business so I thought a lot of our team would really connect well with a make-over of a charity shop,” says Lisa, who’s popped over to Number 53 with colleague Amy Rich and already had a good catch up with the shop manager.
Sitting at the round glass-top table that Habitat donated, used by the shop’s crochet group, Amy picks out the highlights of their 22 July – 16 August guest residency during which Habitat staff volunteered for over 80 hours in total. “They get loads of donations here and the team do such a good job. We wanted to help sort out the stock and display it better,’ says Amy who is Habitat’s Creative & Visual Manager specialising in making Habitat’s lovely goods irresistible purchases.
“We said to the manager Jaycee, ‘how can we help and what do you need’, and her answers helped us organise the space. We really tried to be respectful so the team didn’t feel bulldozed and could know where everything was,” says Amy smiling. Habitat staff organised donation bags and unsold retail items, while Shadia from the Bright Team took on the task of refreshing the window display. The mannequins – famous on the shop’s Instagram account – have gone for a holiday and in their place are colour popping orange, pink and yellow blocks which allows more bric-a-brac to be on show. The shop window was given a good clean and a massive branded info board was created to go behind the till, ensuring that all customers know that they are in an independent charity shop where every purchase goes towards Age UK Camden’s work.
The book shelving is now organised by spine colour, which is a fun way to find literary gold. Anything for kids has been put at a lower level so that it’s a bit more inter-active and the shoes, once stored in a bucket, are now glamorously displayed to make them more tempting purchases. Another big change is the introduction of the sort of clothes rail used in boutiques that makes it easier for fashion hounds on their lunch hour to swish through the shop’s very best pieces.
And because the shop is also an info hub about all things happening in Camden a cork noticeboard (very Habitat) is on the left as you enter.
“It was really exhausting work,” admits Amy remembering some sizzling summer days on the shop floor and in the basement stock room. “I learnt how hard people work here and how incredibly committed they are. It’s given me a kick-start to do more volunteering as I had a real sense of how I could help using my retail skills from work.” It also allowed Amy to snap up an “amazing denim dress” that come the autumn she’ll have time to do her own alterations on. She also bought books for her mum’s care home in Grantham.
“We know we made a difference,” adds Lisa, “because Age UK Camden looked at the figures for the same period last year and sales this year had increased by 22%.”
Clare Askem, Managing Director of Habitat spoke about how the partnership had been fruitful for everyone involved. “We’re thrilled to have partnered with Age UK Camden on this project, creating something special and unexpected in store for customers in the Farringdon area,” she said. “As our Head Office is based in Farringdon it has meant that our whole office has been able to be involved with this project, from working on window displays to supplying donations of Habitat products and also helping with staffing of the store. Reaction from customers has been fantastic and we’re looking forward to continuing this relationship going forwards.”
53 Leather Lane, EC1N 7TJ Instagram: @ageukcamdenboutique To find out more about our shop, visit: For corporate volunteering, visit:
53 Leather Lane, EC1N 7TJ
To find out more about our shop, visit:
For corporate volunteering, visit: