Bikes, books and ballgowns are a recipe for success (From Wiltshire Times)

BIKES, ball gowns, bangles and books – that’s the innovative new retail experience which has just opened in the Shires Shopping Centre.

The Julian House charity is behind the new outlet which is located in the Fore Street Mall just a few doors up from Waterstones.

In addition to a broad range of clothing, electrical items, books and bric-a-brac the shop will offer bikes which have been refurbished at the nearby Duke Street workshop.

Cecil Weir, Fundraising Director for Julian House, says the charity is confident that the unusual mix of items on sale will be a winner with Trowbridge shoppers.

He added: “Our shops make a valuable contribution towards the various projects that we manage. When we were offered the chance to open in The Shires we thought it would be a fantastic opportunity to do something a bit different.

“We already have a bike workshop social enterprise in the town, where we offer training and work experience opportunities to homeless and other marginalised individuals.

“By putting a constantly changing selection of bikes in The Shires’ shop we’ll be bringing great bikes closer to customers and highlight the massive range that’s available such a short walk away.”

Julian House is asking the public to support the new shop in a variety of ways – not only by shopping there, but also by giving a few hours of their time volunteering and/or donating stock.

Mr Weir is keen to emphasise the importance of volunteer support: “The ‘engine room’ of any charity shop is the stock room. Our policy is to steam and carefully present every item of clothing that we put on sale.

“Likewise, we sort through lots of books before we put the most interesting ones on sale. The work is really interesting. Likewise for those volunteers who like to be in customer-facing roles the banter on the till is great.

“Regarding donations, everyone has good clothing that they no longer want or gifts that weren’t quite right for them. By giving us those items we can give them a new life and support some of the most marginalised members of society.

“Occasionally we get quirky items, like the Vietnam era silk map of South East Asia which probably came from a pilot’s emergency pack. Any bike donations should be taken to the Duke Street workshop.”

The new Julian House shop in The Shires is open Monday to Saturday from 9.30am to 5pm. Further details on the charity’s work can be found at www.julianhouse.org.uk

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