Thrift stores in Dubai

Why one of Dubai’s oldest charity shops is facing a bleak future

Area Guides
Area Guides

Dubai is now home to ever-more recycling points, dotted outside apartment buildings and in the centre of communities, encouraging the city’s residents to do their bit for the environment. Though the initiative is undoubtedly having positive results, there has been one unexpected casualty. Donations to the Dubai Centre for Special Needs’ Karama charity shop are drying up fast, leaving the 20-year-old shop’s fate in the balance, and the organisation’s senior manager, Hanane Younes, is convinced the bins for clothing and household items are responsible.

‘We’re getting fewer and fewer donations because it’s easier for people to just take everything to the donations point nearest to them,’ she explains. ‘The number of donations bins for clothes and things on the streets is increasing.’

Not only is it affecting the quantity of unwanted items being given to the centre, but it has also had an affect on the quality. ‘We’re trying to spread the word now. In any shop, you always need fresh items and products to keep the business going, and we’re not going to wait until it’s really dramatic before we do something about it. If we don’t do something now, people will stop coming to the shop because there won’t be anything nice to buy.’

Younes believes the importance of maintaining a steady stream of donations cannot be understated. First and foremost, revenues from the outlet provide a lifeline to the centre itself. ‘Over the years, the funds generated from sales have sponsored lots of children who couldn’t afford to pay their tuition fees,’ she explains. ‘It helps with purchasing wheelchairs or equipment. Recently the centre needed to install a new lift for the swimming pool where the children have hydrotherapy, which gives them the physical exercise they need. It all goes directly to the children.’

But the charity shop’s work doesn’t stop here. By selling clothes and homewares in good condition at very low prices, it is also able to support lower-income members of the surrounding Karama community. ‘Shirts cost from Dhs5 to Dhs20, and prices go up to maybe Dhs100 for larger items, such as a crib with a mattress, for example. We have everything – strollers, baby toys, shirts… and books! We have a wide variety of books, and they’re all about Dhs5 or Dhs10. It doesn’t matter that they’re second hand. The shop is great for book lovers.’

If convenience is still a factor in your decision-making when it comes to donating unwanted items, Younes explains that they are happy for donations to be taken to the centre itself, near Safa Park, where they can sort through the items before arranging for them to be moved to the charity shop. ‘If it’s a huge amount of donations, then maybe we can help with picking them up,’ she adds. If you don’t have any wares to give away, but still want to help in some way, the centre is very much open to suggestions. ‘It can be monetary donations, but any generosity is appreciated.’ If you have goods to donate, we recommend dropping them off yourself at the store and making the most of the shopping opportunity. A great new read for just Dhs5 is surely worth the trip.
Charity Shop, behind Choithrams, Karama (04 337 8246). Dubai Centre for Special Needs, Al Safa (behind Gulf News), (04 344 0966).

More worthy causes for your donations

Whether you can offer storage space for free, organise a grocery donation drive or use your skills and donate your time to help the group, organisers are always keen to hear from you. (055 862 2606).

Aid in Motion
Give your unwanted clothes to this organisation and it will distribute them directly to those in need. (06 503 4535).

Mission to Seafarers
Got lots of magazines and DVDs that you’ll never watch again? The Flying Angel support boat is always looking to restock its library. (04 357 6060).

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