Op-shopping in China (2)

14:18, October 19, 2009      

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Left: Zhang Huixiang, owner of Brandnü. Photos: Zhu Shanshan (Global Times Photo)

"My shop is a platform to help people and provide customers with cheap stuff. I combine charity and environmental protection together. People can buy clothes in Brandnü while doing a good deed and protecting the environment," Zhang said.

Brandnü has proven a success and this month Zhang organized an exhibition of work by Wang Hongfeng, a boy with a developmental disability. Zhang used monies earned from his shop to help fund the exhibition.

"Many visitors to the hutong fi nd the products in my shop are of quite good quality, but when I tell them the clothes are used, some put them back immediatelyand leave the store," he said. Zhang explained that most Chinese people do not like the idea of buying secondhand goods, vastly different from the situation overseas.

In most Western countries, the idea of recycling clothes in charity shops is considered chic and ideal for those who love old vintage items and bargain hunting. It also is considered perfect by those who want to help the exploitation of natural resources and do less harm to the environment.

"It feels so good to pick out clothes at a low price and it is even better thatyour purchases will help many people living in poverty," said Jiao Pei, who wasna regular shopper at charity stores when she studied in the UK.

However the widely-popular concept abroad is yet to catch on in China.

"I don't think I would buy secondhand clothes," said 23-year-old Li Yuan.used to wear my cousin's old clothes when I was little because my parents could not afford to buy new clothes for me. Now people are getting richer and kids seldom wear secondhand stuff from their sisters or brothers like I did."

Despite such prevailing attitudes, Zhang still has faith in his business.

"I think charity shops will be accepted bit by bit since more Chinese care about charity and want to do something to help others. A charity shop is a good platform for those who want to contribute and those who need our help," he said, hoping to take Brandnü to other cities in China in the future.

Source: Global Times
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