The public realm regeneration in Lisburn’s Market Square finally looks to be drawing to a close, much to the relief of retailers at the top of the town. Business owners have been vocal about the delay in completing the extensive building work, which has significantly restricted pedestrian access in the Square.
Perhaps this is why the Action Cancer boutique, which opened on Valentine’s Day this year, has yet to see the outpouring of love it so richly deserves. I discovered this little gem of a shop on Monday and instantly fell for it, heads over heels.
Shop manager Amy Brereton says although there is a steadily-growing stream of customers, every day she sees new faces, each (like me!) saying they are here for the first time.
Amy is an art graduate and her appointment really is a smart move. From her amazing handmade window-display dress to colour-coordinated rails, trend-aware outfits and artfully curated displays, her creative vision is evident throughout the store.
Action Cancer has transformed all of their clothing stores into boutiques – a rebranding trend I first noticed in Northern Ireland’s not-for-profit retail sector about ten years ago, with the launch of Oxfam Vintage Belfast and the Oxfam Bridal shop on Bangor’s Main Street.
Our ongoing love affair with vintage and pre-loved clothing, coupled with tough economic times, means charity shops are competing more than ever with thrift stores and cut-price high street retailers, and relying on donated clothes to do so.
It’s a challenge that fashion-loving Amy enjoys, and says she’s had no difficulty in keeping the store up-to-date: “The quality of clothing we get here is really good – every time I go through donations, I can see things that reflect the catwalk trends.”
Like every good charity shop, it doesn’t just offer fashion bargains. There’s an impressive record, CD and DVD collection, loads of books, a beautiful display cabinet full of ornaments and trinkets and even a guitar and musical equipment for sale.
Seeing vintage typewriters and Singer sewing machines dotted around the shop as well brought me real joy. Little touches like this really catch my eye, and it supports what Amy says about donation quality. I have bookmarked this as a little treasure trove I will return to time and again.
(Yes, I know I’m in shot in that last photo. Couldn’t get the pic at any other angle!)
You can keep up to date with the Action Cancer boutique and furniture store on social media via the links below.
The Lisburn boutique holds a fashion show on 12th November in Crumlin Road Gaol, which the PQ is really looking forward to! Working with local designers, they will showcase a range of outfits upcycled from their own pre-loved shop stock. Tickets are £25 and I’ll update the post with ticket purchase info and a poster as these become available.