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Green Ladies boutique sells second-hand clothes for charity

by Gloria Lee

Would you buy a second-hand wedding dress? A shopper at Green Ladies actually considered it, which surprised Michelle Lai Wai-ting, the manager of the social enterprise store.

“A wedding is a big day in a person’s life, but she didn’t mind using a second-hand dress,” Lai says.

Ultimately the customer didn’t buy the dress, but the fact that she even tried fits in with the store’s mission. Green Ladies on Queen’s Road West is no ordinary boutique; it’s the first consignment store in Hong Kong. The charity St. James’ Settlement started it in 2008 to promote the reuse of fashion products. It collects and resells trendy clothes, shoes, and accessories at reasonable prices, so people realise second-hand clothes aren’t necessarily old and yellowing.

“When customers enter the shop, they realise that second-hand clothes can be new and clean,” says Joyce Lin, Project Officer of Green Ladies.

New consignors have to sign a contract with Green Ladies, and the staff will shortlist available items for sale afterwards. The boutique only collects current season items, and they mainly collect casual clothes rather than business atire. The recycled clothes will be on sale for two months. If a product is sold, the individual consignor can get 10, 20, or 30 per cent of the price, or give all the revenue back to support the boutique. The revenue is used to train employees and to promote green living.

If the items remain unsold after two months, they will be sent to different St James’ Settlement centres and sold for charity at even lower prices for middle-aged women who are less well-off. This helps lower-income groups, and ensures that nothing is wasted.

Another major goal of Green Ladies is to provide job opportunities and training for middle-aged women. The three branches employ 40 workers, and four-fifths of the crew are middle-aged women. They get regular training to hone their skills and team spirit.

“Working here has helped me physically and mentally,” says Vivian (who prefers not to disclose her full name), a middle-aged salesperson at Green Ladies. “I am proud of working here and I recommend this place to my family and friends.”

Green Ladies now has three branches, with a fourth one opening soon. Check out their website or sjsgreenladies on Facebook and Instagram for more details.

Edited by Jayce Lai