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Glad Rags co-op: Making a city feel like a village

Case study

Published
17th June 2021
Topic
What is a co-op?
Image
Glad rags co-op
Gladrags co-op sell vintage clothes (photographer Robin Mitchell)

Glad Rags Thrift is a not-for-profit co-operative selling pre-loved clothing and provides employment opportunities in the community.

The store was opened as part of Glasgow’s Glad Cafe a community focused arts venue and bar. Both the Glad Cafe and Glad Rags’ profits are used to support their charity, the Glad Foundation, which was set up to provide music workshops to young people of all backgrounds and abilities.

Jennie Lööf is Glad Rags’ General Manager and one of four members of the co-op.

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I’ve always been passionate about sustainability and recycling, We divert around six tonnes of clothes from landfill every year. Everything in the shop, from our shelves and rails to everything on them, is all re-purposed and pre-loved. Sustainability is so important to us.
– Jennie Lööf Glad Rags’ General Manager

We get 100 per cent of our donations from the local community and take any wearable adult clothing, jewellery or vinyl records and CDs. We pass on what doesn’t suit us to other charities or local artists who would benefit from them more.”

Jennie was one of the original founders of the co-op in 2014. “We had no idea what a co-operative was! A friend suggested it and when we looked at the values and principles, we realised it was for us,” she recalls.

Being a member of the Glad Rags co-op gives Jennie a sense of community. “We’re more than just a charity shop,” she says. “We are a part of the community and I love when people come in for just a chat, whether they’re having a rubbish or great day.”

Once safe to do so there are plans to extend the shop’s use. Jennnie says: “We’re making it so people from the community, as well as us, can organise fun events in the shop.”

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Watch a short video about Glad Rags co-op
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Benefitting the community is such a big part of what we do – making a city feel like a village is such a nice thing. All the shops on the street look out for each other and help each other out.
– Jennie Lööf

Being supported by other co-operatives is another benefit of co-op membership, as Jennie discovered early on. Greencity Wholefoods, a long-established Glasgow worker co-op, helped Glad Rags set up. They also donate food and other goods to the café. “We’ve passed on that love to co-ops that opened after us,” smiles Jennie.

For her, being part of a co-op is empowering, reassuring and provides a strong footing from which to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic. “Co-ops have so much control and you’re part of a team. You have people who can help you out. We don’t know what’s going to happen in the future. This whole year has been really difficult but we’re stronger together as a community. Together, co-operatives can roll back out into the new world in a safe way.” 

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