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Opening of charity shop at Kirkby Lonsdale causes a stir
A SOUTH Lakeland town is split over the arrival of its first new charity shop in 25 years.
Kirkby Lonsdale’s Chamber of Trade and Allan Muirhead, the chairman of the town council, have expressed disappointment at the opening of the Save the Children store.
They claim it will have ‘no direct benefit’ for the town and are concerned that the North West Air Ambulance is believed to be opening an outlet soon.
Bosses at the new store have tried to fit in with Kirkby's image by decorating the premises – the former Animal Emporium on Market Street – with chandeliers and Laura Ashley wallpaper.
Robin Sadler, the chair of the Chamber of Trade, said his objections were 'tempered' by the shop's boutique style.
“There are only about six of these shops in the country and the others are in London or Edinburgh,” said Mr Sadler. “We want to avoid the normal look of a charity shop because if it looks grubby then it drags the town down with it. “Kirkby Lonsdale is not big enough for more than one charity shop. We need to have some sense of proportion.”
Mr Muirhead said he was worried that one charity shop would bring more.
“It's not something that does the town any good,” he said. “I have no criticism of the charities themselves – they support worthwhile causes – but Save the Children will be selling upper market brand goods which will be in direct competition with other retailers. This could damage trade as generally charity shops are excused from paying rates and they use volunteers so have no wages to pay.”
Diane Heaton, regional man-ager for Save the Children North West, said the town had 'embraced' the shop since its opening on August 26.
“Everybody has been positive and we have been really busy,” said Mrs Heaton. “Nothing we sell will be new except our gift cards so we will not be competition for anyone. The shop gives people a chance to buy quality goods, recycle and help a valuable cause.”
China Bull Emporium owner Michael Hodgkinson said he was sitting 'on the fence' in the debate.
“It's a little bit of a shame to see charity shops creeping in,” he said. “But there is room for all.”