One of Bristol’s oldest reuse shops is reopening its doors as coronavirus restrictions are eased by the Government.
The SOFA project sells appliances, furniture, and paint and has shops on Old Market and Gloucester Road.
The project is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, and reopened its West Street store on Monday, July 6, with the Gloucester Road shop opening on Wednesday, July 8.
The project doesn’t just sell sofas, however. “The name stands for shifting old furniture around,” says Nicci Peck, the CEO. “One of our main social objectives is to stop things going to landfill.”
The reuse shop has a contract with Bristol City Council, providing household goods to people with low incomes as part of the local crisis and prevention fund.
After being forced to close due to the virus, the business’s priority when reopening was to make sure that items got to those in need, especially electric cookers and fridge freezers.
The shop sells products at a range of prices, catering for all budgets, and every week a sofa is put on sale for just £10.
The SOFA Project is also a member of the Community RePaint Network, and sells used paint at a lower cost than new. It has donated paint to homelessness charity St. Mungo’s during the pandemic to help with rehousing efforts.
The shop accepts donations of a minimum of half a can of paint. Nicci says: “If it’s still in usable condition, people can bring it to us, and it can be bought by someone else at a fraction of the price.”
The SOFA Project has changed the way the stores operate to ensure the safety of staff and customers.
Plastic screens, footplates on doors, and a policy of quarantining all donations for 48 hours are just some of the changes in place to stop the spread of coronavirus.
The shop will continue to adhere to a social distancing policy of two metres, rather than the new one metre plus rule.
A sink has also been built at the back of the warehouse, so staff can wash their hands before entering.
Customers will be required to sanitise their hands before entering the shop. “It’s all about minimising touch,” says Nicci. “We’ve got signage up saying please don’t touch the items unless you would like to buy them.”
Main photo: Furniture Reuse Network.