NCBI launches its first online clothing shop with Thriftify

2 Apr 2020

Image: © Anthony Hall/

With Thriftify, Irish charities can move their retail stores online to deal with the impact that Covid-19 measures have had on revenue.

To adapt to the difficult circumstances retailers are facing during the ongoing Covid-19 crisis, the National Council for the Blind Ireland (NCBI) announced that it has launched an online fashion store.

The charity offers a range of services to people experiencing sight loss, including counselling, employment advice and emotional support, as well as access to assistive technologies and low-vision solutions.

Each year, NCBI needs to raise €3m to keep operating at existing levels and, in the current economy, that is becoming increasingly difficult, the charity said. It raises a significant amount of its revenue from the 120 charity shops that it has across Ireland.

Adapting to the situation

Due to the ongoing Covid-19 physical distancing measures, NCBI has closed all 120 of its stores in Ireland, leading to a decrease in income that is expected to have an impact on the charity’s public services.

To bring products from the bricks-and-mortar stores online, NCBI has now partnered with Irish start-up Thriftify to provide an online outlet for thrift shoppers who are now limiting their activities outside of the home.

Dublin-based Thrifity was set up to help the charity sector bring their products online, and so far has focused on products such as books, CDs, DVDs and games. With Thriftify, NCBI has now uploaded hundreds of clothing items from its stores.

‘There’s a great opportunity for bricks-and-mortar retailers to embrace digital commerce as a way of making more money, but also as a way of building resilience’

Rosie Henson, NCBI’s head of retail, said: “As retailers, we are always seeking to innovate and improve how we do things. With the temporary closure of our shops, we’ve had to act fast to find a way of maintaining a connection with our customers and develop alternative ways to raise funds for our services.

“We were one of the first charities to begin working with Thriftify, initially selling books and other small items so it’s great to now be able to sell our fashion as well. While it’s still only a small percentage of what’s available in our stores, we want to let people know that they can still support our work and get a bargain at the same time.”

According to NCBI, orders are being organised from its warehouse in Naas, where workers are following government guidelines regarding physical distancing. It added that all of the items the charity has put on sale have been steam-cleaned and many are brand new.

Designed specifically for the charity sector

Thriftify has been helping other charities based in Ireland since retailers closed their doors in March. Other charities it has partnered with include the Dublin Simon Community, the Irish Cancer Society and Oxfam.

Rónán Ó Dálaigh, CEO of Thriftify, said: “Fashion is a new area for us. Up until now, we’ve focused the technology on items that are barcoded. We’ve had to turn things around incredibly quickly to get the solution for fashion working, but we’re delighted to be able to help in whatever way we can.

“I suppose the great thing about digital technology like ours is that it enables retailers who would have typically just relied on the punter walking in the door for sales to broaden their reach to the global market.

“I think there’s a great opportunity for bricks-and-mortar retailers to embrace digital commerce as a way of making more money, but also as a way of building resilience.”

Kelly Earley was a journalist with Silicon Republic