Step inside Choose Love: the shop where customers can spend hundreds, walk away with nothing, and feel great about it
Are you tired of buying stuff for the sake of it? If so, the Choose Love pop-up shop might be just up your street. Based in Soho in London, it’s a collaboration between UK charity Help Refugees and creative collective Glimpse. It stemmed from the question: instead of gadgets and jeans, what would happen if the items we bought could make a real difference to someone’s life?
The shop takes people through three phases of a refugee’s experience: arrival, camp and the future. Each table contains a selection of items that represents these stages, from warm gloves to children’s art materials. The shop also stocks hats, gloves, blankets and phone cards.
“We’re hoping this is the start of something big,” said James Turner, Glimpse co-founder. “Imagine if every high street had a Choose Love store, where you could learn about what’s happening out there in the world and do something practical to help. It feels like so many of us have had enough of mindless shopping, and we’re looking for a positive alternative. Perhaps this is it.”
The shop opened in Foubert’s Place on ‘Black Friday’ (23 November) and will remain open until New Year’s Eve, closing only for Christmas Day. There is also an online store. Turner explained that the project is based on a simple insight: most of us enjoy giving gifts that will be loved and cherished. But, we’re tired of buying stuff for the sake of it.
It feels like so many of us have had enough of mindless shopping, and we’re looking for a positive alternative
“We want to reimagine the shopping experience as something we can feel good about. We want people to leave the store with a spring in their step, having done something meaningful to help,” he told Positive News.
This is the second year for Choose Love: in 2017, the project raised nearly £1 million. The sale of life jackets from the shop last year, for example, raised £38,594. This allowed Refugee Rescue to help 1,399 people braving the treacherous sea crossing from Turkey.
“When the media spotlight had turned away, the generosity of people at the Choose Love shop kept our rescue boat running, helping us ensure the safety of people making this desperate sea crossing,” said Hannah from Refugee Rescue.
In photos: Choose Love
Photography: Help Refugees / Alex Green