The world’s first shop where items are bought with kindness opened in Carlisle today.
The Kinder Shop looked like any other high street store with a range of stylish items that ranged from barbecues to garden chairs and hampers.
The only difference was that to pay for items shoppers just needed to show some kindness – by volunteering a suggested number of hours at a local charity.
So a deckchair could be ‘bought’ for two hours of volunteering and you could walk away with a new barbecue if you committed to five hours.
Customers at the Carlisle shop promised over 200 hours of time to local charities, many of whom had never been involved in volunteering previously.
The first customer was Sara Talebaoui, of Wigton, who just happened to be walking down Paternoster Row as the shop opened.
She walked away with a table and chairs bistro set for her garden, a bird box and some relishes. But Sara will be ‘paying’ for those goodies by volunteering for 24 hours with Age UK, Anti Racist Cumbria and English Heritage.
“This is my lucky day. I didn’t know it was happening and couldn’t believe it when I was told all these lovely things are free.
“I am a bit of a history nerd so working with English Heritage is ideal and I hadn’t heard of Anti Racist Cumbria so I am really looking forward to helping them.
“This is such a nice idea to give some time back to the community.”
Also among the many shoppers who flocked to the Kinder Shop was Martha Winn, of Baines Wilson solicitors.
She picked up some impressive wooden chopping boards, vases and a bottle of gin and will be volunteering to help at Eden Valley Hospice’s torchlit procession in October.
“There were so many nice things to choose from and it’s lovely to see how many people are coming here and offering their time to local charities,” she said.
The purpose of The Kinder Shop is to show what a difference kindness can make in communities.
The Cumberland Building Society is funding the project as part of its campaign to promote kindness and hopes it will help boost the number of volunteers at charities taking part.
Charities taking part include the British Heart Foundation, Shelter, Acorn Bank, Oakt Tree Animals Charity, Cumbria Deaf Assoication and West Cumbria Rivers Trust.
Jonny Irving from Eden Valley Hospice was invited to officially open the shop and was delighted that the charity would be gaining new volunteers thanks to the Kinder Shop project.
“Volunteers are hugely important to the hospice so an idea like that will introduce new people to volunteering with the hospice will be a massive boost.
“We are here for the people of Carlisle and Cumbria and this project will help us build some new relationships with people who gave their time to support our fundraising events.
“I think it is a fantastic idea,” he said.
Phil Ward, brand manager with The Cumberland, said: “We believe that this is the first time anyone has tried this. It’s unusual, but we hope that it will really put the spotlight on what a difference kindness can make.
“As a business we are committed to being kinder to our staff, our customers and our planet and this is our way of encouraging others to join us on that mission.
“We hope the charities involved will benefit from the extra exposure and find some new volunteers too.”
The Kinder Shop will be in Kendal on Friday in Finkle Street between 10am and 4pm.