Everything you buy in this pop-up store will be given to refugees
“Choose Love” in central London is a peculiar kind of pop-up store where you purchase stuff but don’t actually bring anything home.
Do not worry, though, we are not talking about a scam or a twisted art installation, but a particularly effective and visually catchy way to help refugees and asylum-seekers in Europe and the Middle East.
With an all-white, sleek design inspired by the Apple store, completed with long wooden table and giant words “Choose Love” is the concept of UK-based grassroots charity Help Refugees, which supports over 80 projects in Greece, Iraq, and Syria.
It is indeed quite simple — customers can pick and buy real products for refugees splashed on the table (space blankets, sanitary items, tents, sleeping bags), and the charity will distribute a similar item to people in need.
“We wanted to reimagine Christmas shopping as something you do for people in need, but which also feels enjoyable and desirable – shopping with meaning,” said James Turner, founder of Glimpse, a collective that helped the charity come up with the idea of a store for refugees.
Each customer then gets a card which they can give to someone else as a token of their choice.
The wooden table is split in 3 sections — “Arrival” (emergency blankets, warm clothing and food), “Shelter” (tents, sleeping bags and hygiene packs) and “The Future” (educational materials, a dictionary and keys to a home).— one for each stage of the refugee journey, so that customers can experience firsthand the items they actually need for their survival.
Cost will range from £4.99 to £499 — an option to “buy the store”.
At the back of the store is a giant ‘Choose Love’ sign, created using gold emergency blankets from Calais.
The store, which opened on Black Friday, had more than 1,500 customers in one week but hopes to get to 10,000 by Christmas. Unsurprisingly, the most popular items has been the child’s coat (£10), followed by the emergency tents and sleeping bags.
It’s been so successful that Turner now wants to extend it to other cities in Europe and the US. “Employees in Soho offices are coming here to do their Secret Santa,” he says. “Companies are coming with their teams to do events here. People from other parts of the world are buying items for refugees on our online store.”
One of the reasons for the success for “Choose Love” is the tireless team of volunteers that works in the office all day, every day of the week.
Turner says he got the idea during his honeymoon in Croatia. “I wanted to do something for Black Friday — turn the retail upside down — and I got the idea of a store where you can’t buy anything for yourself, you buy it for people who actually need it,” he says.
“People are tired of buying presents they don’t like for people who know won’t really appreciate them. How do we create a store where every gift is a winner?”