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Chapter Six: online charity shop from RSPCA Manchester and Salford

Let us introduce ourselves!

Chapter Six is a brand new online charity shop from the RSPCA Manchester and Salford branch.

We were created by two of the retail staff at the branch who could see the effect of the current pandemic on the charity and wanted to find a new way to help. With the shops being forced to close for around 4 months, the future of the charity looked bleak. The shops had always been relied upon to provide the majority of the funding required to run the charity. That means everything, from running our animal centre, paying for vet treatments, and providing support to the large network of animal foster carers. The loss of such a huge amount of funds weighed heavy on our hearts, and we just had to find a way to survive as we enter another phase of lockdowns.

The name Chapter Six came to us one sleepless night as we mulled over our options for the future. It was a bright light, epiphany style moment and from the beginning it just made sense. Chapter Six will be our sixth retail venture following the success of our five brick and mortar stores based in Chorlton, NQ, Didsbury, Urmston and Withington. It also signifies the new beginning that this project has presented to us, a new chapter in our life if you will. And who could forget that famous quote tiled on the side of Manchester’s famous Affleck’s Palace: “And on the sixth day, God created Manchester”.

Why we do it!

We have always wanted to move our retail operations online, but when you’re elbow deep in donation bags and busy filling rails and shelves you barely have the time to eat lunch, let alone think about effectively opening a whole other shop. The events of 2020 completely changed that line of thinking, as people became more wary of leaving the house and less likely to step foot in their local charity shop. The drop in foot fall meant that our retail staff finally had the chance to realise a dream that has been years in the making, and we’re throwing ourselves into it head first.

We’ve never been the kind to do things by halves (our Northern Quarter shop is a wonderful example of how we commit to an innovative idea and see it through), and so when we decided to create our own website we also wanted to create our own brand. We feel that this is a really important step, because we don’t just want to appeal to the charity shop lovers out there, we want to face the fast fashion brands head on and win over people who might not otherwise shop second hand. Once people realise the quality and uniqueness that slow fashion can provide, we hope they’ll consider ditching their old buying habits and adopt a more sustainable lifestyle. Like we said, we don’t do things by halves!

Having previously dipped our toes into online selling sites like eBay and Depop, we felt it was really important to cut out the middle man. If we can find a way to divert all of the proceeds made from sales to the animals in our care, then we’ll do it! This is why we’ve also set up our RePackaged initiative, meaning everything we ship is sent in recycled and second hand packaging, and all our promotional materials are printed on recycled paper. We’re constantly looking for ways to be more environmentally friendly and reduce waste, so we’re working with local businesses who are saving their packaging for us to reuse. It means we can save money and help save the earth all at the same time!

How have we done it?

Two of our long-standing retail staff have been splitting their time between working in the shops and setting up Chapter Six. It’s been an exciting, exhausting and ultimately rewarding experience as we’ve had to learn a massive amount of new skills (photography, cataloguing stock, graphic design, social media management) to go alongside our old skills (brand awareness, stock sorting, visual merchandising). Almost everything you see across our website and social media channels has been achieved through the generosity and kindness of individuals and a company. For example, the web development and website building was kindly provided by the team at One Education, the photography equipment and much needed training support was provided by a colleague from the national RSPCA and the majority of our social media content was created by one of the branch’s trustees.

Signing Off

Ultimately our goal is to create an online store and community through social media that can match what our physical shops do so well, as we face challenging and uncertain times on the high street. We have worked really hard to present our preloved items to the highest standard, and show everyone that just because something is second hand doesn’t mean it’s outlived its usefulness! We also hope to encourage more people to use second hand packaging (who here hasn’t received an item from an online order that isn’t swamped in unnecessary layers of paper and cardboard) and be more conscious about the effects this might have on the planet.

If you want to support us there are many ways to do so. You can start by following us on our social media channels and sharing us around (@chaptersix.mcr on Facebook and Instagram) – The more people who know about us the bigger our impact will be. You can visit our online store at www.chaptersix.co.uk and find a carefully selected range of preloved goodies to purchase. Rest assured that the proceeds of these sales will have such a positive impact on the lives of animals who are also in need of a second chance. In the future you will also be able to donate your unwanted items to any of our five charity shops across Manchester. Without your help we simply cannot survive, and no gesture you make is too small!

We’re so unbelievably excited to take this next step into online retail, and we really hope you’ll follow us in creating a more sustainable future by dropping fast fashion and shopping with us instead!

Lots of love, the whole team at Chapter Six! xox