Op-shopping in China

14:11, October 19, 2009      

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Above and inset: Handicrafts at Zhang Huixiang's charity store. (Global Times Photo)

When it comes to charity, many people in China think about donating money, clothing or equipment. Now there is another, new way for people in Beijing to help those in need, by means of "opportunity" or charity shopping.

Charity stores mainly sell donated secondhand or unused goods and the staff are usually volunteers. Goods are relatively cheap and profi ts are donated to charity.

Popular in many Western countries, op-shops in China are rare. When Zhang Huixiang came back to Beijing last year after spending 10 years in Canada, he was surprised that Beijing, an international city, did not have charity stores. Not long after, he decided to fill the void and set up one of his own.

Borrowing a 10-square meter space in Wudaoying Hutong near Beijing's Yonghegong, Zhang opened his store Brandnü two months ago.

Aimed at helping rural women, the name Brandnü not only hints that the concept is brand new to China, but "nü" also means "woman" in Chinese, as the main purpose of the shop is to help women.

"All of the profi ts of Brandnü will help to reduce the poverty of Chinese rural women who will become economically independent with social support," Zhang explained.

To help fulfill his goal, Zhang sells handicrafts made by rural women.Computer bags, pouches for cell phones and embroidered children's shoes are acquired from non-governmental organizations (NGOs) such as Beijing Cultural Development Center for Rural Women and China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation. The NGO's help him collect products from rural women in various regions in China. Zhang then sells the handicrafts at low prices fixed by the NGOs to make sure the producers will gain the main profits.

Besides promoting rural women's handicrafts, Brandnü, like many charity shops abroad, provides a space for people to donate used goods. All of the items must be washed and sterilized before they are accepted.

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