Retail innovation seems to be all the rage at the moment. Enterprising folks are continually coming up with new and ingenious ways of improving our shopping experience, and creating technologies which make it easier than ever to find and pay for the things you like.
But the fundamentals of retail have remained unsurprisingly static - with the ‘money in exchange for goods’ not seeing much (if any) challenges over the past few years.
However we were recently delighted to learn of the opening of the UK’s first ever share shop, which injects retail with the mantra of the sharing economy, and replaces the standard cash - product relationship.
The aptly named SHARE opened for business in Spring 2015 in the town of Frome, Somerset and is (as far as we know) the first and only shop in the UK where sharing and borrowing, rather than buying and owning is the main activity. It is the UK's first 'library of things'.
Generous people donate high quality and desirable items to the shop which then loans them out for a small fee (between £1 and £4). Once the loan period is over, the item is returned to the shop and the process can start all over again.
But this shop seems to be about much more than just providing an inexpensive way for people to enjoy certain high quality items; equally important to its operation is promoting the idea of sharing, and fostering a sense of respect for the items on loan. To this end each item within the shop comes along with a personalised story of the owner who donated it, developing a sense of shared history and creating a more substantial connection with the items on display.
The innovative and socially responsible shop came about when 8 unemployed young people were set a challenge by a local community enterprise called Edventure: Frome.
Edventure are folks after our own heart! They are a school for community enterprise that tries to foster a culture of enterprise that has positive and sustainable impacts on the community of their area. They take an innovative and community-centric approach to the work they do and see it as their goal to inspire, train and support diverse, unemployed young adults to create sustainable livelihoods locally, and to help build a more resilient, sustainable and fair community.
The hope is, that over time SHARE will continue to grow until eventually it becomes an independent and self sustaining permanent feature on the high street!
Well done to the guys at SHARE, hopefully we will see more of this kind of enterprise springing in more locations soon.
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