NCBI’s new pop-up retail unit raises the bar for charity shops

Irish Life is letting unit in Dublin’s Henry Street to charity rent-free for two months

The National Council for the Blind of Ireland’s Re:Newed pop-up shop aims to deliver high-quality stock

The National Council for the Blind of Ireland’s Re:Newed pop-up shop aims to deliver high-quality stock


Irish Life has agreed to let a unit on Dublin’s Henry Street to the National Council for the Blind of Ireland (NCBI) on a rent-free basis for two months, to allow it set up a pop-up shop.

The unit, at 51 Henry Street, one of the city’s main shopping thoroughfares, was previously occupied by Vodafone. The NCBI has now set up a pop-up charity shop in the unit, under its Re:Newed for NCBI brand, which aims to deliver high-quality stock.

Irish Life had previously allowed the charity establish an earlier incarnation of the pop-up shop in one of its units at the bottom of Grafton Street before Christmas. The investment management firm has worked with different charity partners in the past, including St Vincent de Paul, to make units available for pop-ups.

Retail is a key focus for the charity, having recently opened new shops in Ashbourne and Killarney, as well as the acquisition of the former Age Action’s shops on Camden Street, Cherry Orchard and Dún Laoghaire in Dublin, and Ballincollig in Cork, Newbridge, Co Kildare and Monaghan town. In some cases leases were acquired, and in other cases the units were.

The NCBI is now Ireland’s second-largest charity shop chain, with more than 130 shops nationwide, behind St Vincent de Paul, which has more than 230 retail outlets.

Positive response

According to June Tinsley, head of advocacy and communications with the NCBI, the charity will run the shop on a pop-up basis for two months, and has already received a positive response from shoppers on the street.

“The new stores that we have are debunking myths,” she said, adding, “The fit-outs are fully sustainable, the stock is good, high quality and the interior is certainly fresh and modern.”

The Covid-19 pandemic has hit the retail sector hard. Dublin Town, which represents local businesses in the city centre, has indicated that Henry Street currently has a vacancy rate of about 31 per cent, on the back of closures from several high-profile retailers including Debenhams and Oasis.

The pandemic has also hit the charity sector hard. NCBI’s shops were closed for 19 weeks in 2020 and a further 19 weeks in 2021. This has led to a loss in income from the shops of some €7 million over the period, as well as a €300,000 drop in fundraising income, although Ms Tinsley noted that some of the loss was offset by “State supports, legacies and staff taking pay cuts”.