'˜Dream come true' as shoppers fill new charity '˜superstore' in Banbury
Click the link above to view a gallery of pictures from the opening*
The charity’s Major Ray Brown did the honours after a prayer for the Bridge Street store’s success in front of a large crowd, the brass band and a queue of eager bargain-hunters.
Sales were going through the tills and people were enjoying the cafe shortly after with the shop rammed with customers, much to the delight of store manager Gareth Samuel.
“We’re really excited to finally open, it’s been a long time coming for us with all the planning stages but we’re really pleased,” he said.
“It’s a lot bigger than most charity shops and has a cafe which makes a huge difference, I’ve had a lot of positive comments from customers, so I hope it continues.”
People of all ages started to gather outside the shop from around 10am, with many eager to grab a bargain.
The Salvation Army brass band came out to serenade the queuing customers before staff filed out for the grand ribbon-cutting by Major Brown.
“By donating to us, and by shopping here, you are supporting our work,” he said before cutting the ribbon.
“I’m really happy that by having this shop open, we can give some people a full-time job and also, very importantly, give people opportunities to volunteer with us.
“This is not the only Salvation Army centre in Banbury, we have a church as well.
“Xander Coleman, who with his wife Vanessa, run the local Salvation Army and they’re very important to us.
“There’s a big link between the local Salvation Army church and this shop and we all want to work together.”
Xander said he recognised complaints about Banbury having too many charity shops but believes this one is different.
“It’s really exciting, in Banbury our church has had a vision or a dream that we can have a shop with a cafe like this for decades and it’s become a reality,” he said.
“It’s a beautiful shop, it’s doesn’t feel or smell like a charity shop. People have been so excited about it, there’s been a real buzz around town.
“It’s good to have a full space and not another empty shop, people do complain about having too many charity shops but the way this feels, they won’t feel like the same.”
The ‘superstore’ is spread over 8,000 square feet and features a range of departments, a café, a jukebox to listen to records and more.
Profits from the store will go to The Salvation Army’s work nationwide for people in need, while donations will go directly to the Banbury church.
Head of development and project manager, Nick Morton, said the shop will be helping people without them even realising.
“We hope Banbury sees this store as a store for the community because we want to encourage people to come time and time again,” he said.
“You don’t have to go to a Salvation Army centre to get help, you can come here and read the messages around the shop, or just sit and watch the world go by in the cafe, which I think can be therapeutic especially for people who live alone.”
Many customers were impressed by the size of the shop, which replaces the old Peacocks store, and Littlewoods before that.
One woman said: “I think it’s nice, it’s bigger than I thought it would be, it’s nice to have a big one as most of the others are little so it’s great, I think it will do well.”
A group of elderly ladies enjoying a hot drink in the comfy seats in the cafe were just as impressed.
“I think it’s one of the best shops we have got in Banbury as it’s got everything in here, clothes, homeware, whatever you need,” one said.
“It’s nice as we can have a meal or a coffee, I really think it’s going to do really well as its bringing people together.”
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