Raising fashion stakes
Clothing swap shop going from strength to strength
Environmental project R:evolve Recycle opened their new Cambuslang clothes shop this week.
After an official launch on Friday, the shop started trading on Tuesday.
Volunteers gathered to mark the occasion, and the Reformer was there to find out more about the project.
It is the fashion revolution that is taking Rutherglen - and now Cambuslang - by storm.
R:evolve Recycle, the clothing swap shop started by the Lightburn Elderly Association Project, has gone from strength to strength over the past two years.
From humble beginnings, they opened shops in Rutherglen, Halfway and Hamilton and were even held up as a clothes-lovers treasure trove by Reformer columnist Danielle Jean.
So, to see what all the fuss was about, I paid a visit to the opening of the new Cambuslang shop to chat to the volunteers who make the project tick. Started two years ago, the premise of the shop is simple – members of the public can trade in their old clothes for points to be used on other items in store.
Not content with making sure old clothes are recycled, they also offer ‘ make- do- and- mend’ classes so people can get more life out of their seemingly tattered garments. But for those who volunteer in the shops, there is much more to it than that.
I arrive to find operations manager Mel Robinson and shop supervisor Lisa O’Hara busy trying to get the shop ready for the launch on Friday, March 31, ahead of the opening yesterday, Tuesday, April 4.
Both are staff members and are keen to highlight the good work carried out by their volunteers and the part the shop can help play in the local community. “We had some work placements where they were here as part of a 30-week work placement,” says Mel.
“Some have been with us for two years now and quite a few have gone on to get jobs, which is great for them but bad for us because they are great volunteers.”
Two such volunteers are pals Ann Anderson, 71, and May Paton, 73, both from Rutherglen. They have been involved since the first shop opened in the town two years ago.
“It’s brilliant,” says Ann. “You get to mix with people from the start – and you even end up getting their life story. “There might be people who come in and all they want is company, perhaps they’re on their own and they want a wee chat, which we certainly provide.
“We didn’t expect this to be as popular as it’s turned out, it’s been better than we expected. It’s been massive since we went to Rutherglen Main Street.”
May adds: “We actually have one girl working with us and she was someone who came in to the shop. Her circumstances were not good so we asked her to sign up and she did. Now she really enjoys it.”
Ann and May are part of a growing number of people volunteering when they reach retirement age.
But at the other end of the age spectrum, there are benefits as well.
Former Cathkin High pupil Elaine Schwab, 19, arrived at R:evolve on a work placement. She has since secured a job at BT Travel in Cambuslang.
And she puts that down to the experience she gained at R:evolve. I wasn’t very confident but this has really helped me,” she explains. “I’ve learned a lot of skills like how to deal with customers and things like that. It’s good for younger people, a good starting point.
“The skills I learned are really transferable. For example, I didn’t have a great deal of experience of talking on the phone and that’s something I was able to pick up.”
There is much more to R:evolve than the swap shops. Their ‘make-do-andmend’ classes have been attended by 600 people this year alone and are fully booked for months.
Sixty-five-year-old Jean Broadfoot has been attending a sewing workshop for six weeks. And she reckons the environmental impact of the classes are what motivates her. She says: “It breaths new life into clothes I couldn’t wear anymore.
“I’m so pleased I got into this. The people I am in the group with, we have been going for six weeks and we know each other now, and we’re all looking forward to learning some more.
“Just imagine the amount of clothes you save and the amount you’re stopping from going to landfill.”
The popularity of the classes has not surprised Mel. She says: “People have skills that they have maybe lost with having a family and things like that and they want to start again.”
As well as providing a space where people can get new clothes or save old garments, R:evolve play a vital role in the community. They accept referrals from the food bank and will start a partnership with MacMillan Cancer Care who will fund workshops, while cancer sufferers who might have lost or gained weight through treatment can come in and have free reign.
But ultimately, the popularity of the shop is dependent on the quality of the stock. And far from being just another charity shop to pick up cheap second- hand clothes, Mel reckons it offers so much more. “It’s very boutique. The stock we get in is really very good quality. We’ve got high standards and the staff will only put out clothing that is of good quality.”
R:evolve’s Cambuslang store is now open Tuesdays to Fridays from 10am-4pm. The Rutherglen shop is open from 10am- 4pm Tuesday to Saturday. They also have a shop in Hamilton.
Ready to go Volunteers and friends at the shop’s opening
Opening day Volunteers are ready to start at the new Cambuslang store
Setting up Shop supervisor Lisa O’Hara gets the new stock ready 310317revolve_03 Excitement Operations manager Mel Robinson can’t wait to get started at the new R:evolve shop 310317revolve_01
Chatty Pals Ann Anderson and May Paton love talking to customers 310317revolve_05
Experience Elaine Schwab reckons she has learned a lot in the shop 310317revolve_06