‘Don’t blame charity shops for South Shields’ decline’

King Street, South Shields.
King Street, South Shields.

A retail boss has defended the contribution charity shops make to our high streets - as another outlet prepares to open its doors in a struggling South Tyneside shopping thoroughfare.

The British Red Cross is to move into the former jewellers and pawnbrokers, Herbert Brown & Son Limited, in King Street, South Shields.

The premises closed in April last year after its parent company, Albemarle & Bond Holdings Plc, went into administration.

The new shop is due to open at the end of August, and joins the British Heart Foundation and Marie Curie Cancer Care charity fundraising outlets in the street, together with a handful of similar premises in nearby Fowler Street.

It has led to criticism that the presence of such venues was damaging the retail viability of the town centre.

That’s not a view not shared by Michael Bartley, retail field manager with the British Red Cross, a volunteer-led humanitarian organisation that helps people in crisis, whoever and wherever they are.

Mr Bartley believes it is unfair that charity shops should take the blame for a high street downturn.

He said: “Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but surely it is better for an empty shop unit to have someone in it, rather than it to be standing there empty.

“I don’t believe most people believe charity outlets are to blame for the high streets’ problems.

“We are opening two shops, the first in Barrow-in-Furness and then in Shields.

“We couldn’t open them both at the same time. We’ll be selling the usual mixture of clothes, bric-a-brac and DVDs.”