Are sustainable retail pop-ups the high street of the future?

National High Street Awards, Retail Awards, Sustainable Business Awards, let’s face it, the retail industry likes to celebrate what’s hot and what’s not in the world of shopping.

The more we delve deeper into our community the more the stories of local initiatives come to light.  Think sustainable business retail model, throw in some local businesses and a thriving community group and you have the Blue Patch Department Store.

We talk to Jane Langley, founder and curator of Blue Patch to find out more.


So Jane, tell us about Blue Patch and how it started?

“Blue Patch was born out of a quietly radical desire to foster positive change in the goods and services industry.   We wanted to offer customers the opportunity to buy from celebrated British businesses who are independent, responsible and ethical, so whether that’s by using local fruit and veg in their products, raw materials from sustainable sources, or renewable energy to power their workshops, we wanted to build a model around this.

“So in a nutshell, Blue Patch, part of Social Enterprise UK is a colourful catalogue of British made products and services with a sustainability edge. We’ve rounded up everything from eco-fashion to hand-crafted designer furniture, from artisan bread to biodynamic wine.”

How does Blue Patch invest in communities?

“Blue Patch is a Social Enterprise. It means we use 100% of our profits to make more good things happen in the UK. We’re keen on renewable energy – and we hope you are too – so we’re planning to invest in renewable energy companies. We’ll also be on the look out for local community, education and conservation programmes to fund.”

What do the Blue Patch collective businesses have in common?

“A commitment to improving sustainability. Whether they use local fruit and veg in their products, raw materials from sustainable sources or renewable energy to power their workshops – we celebrate their achievements to foster the spirit of positive change.  We love to encourage members to collaborate on projects, share expertise and take steps to close the loop on waste.  This creates a breeding ground for success to breed and enables the businesses to go from strength to strength.

“The Blue Patch mission is to prioritise the wellbeing of their members and any surplus income will be redistributed to community programmes, renewable energy and conservation – the circular economy is written into the very heart of the Blue Patch business model.  It is a virtuous circle and offers hope for a more resourceful and caring business model – a visionary new way to shop for good things.”

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In October you are going to launch Britain’s first pop-up sustainable department store, tell us more.

“This October 1st from 10am – 6pm, the Blue Patch collective will be in Dulwich Village High Street with the country’s first pop-up sustainable department store, showcasing the best of Britain’s ethical small businesses.  It’s the first time the Blue Patch community will offer shoppers the opportunity to browse a selection of innovative, sustainable and quality creations from some of Britain’s best designers and producers, who will also be on hand to answer questions and discuss their handiwork.

What can we expect on the day?

“In true department store fashion, there will be something for everyone.  From delicious chocolate, handmade rugs and bespoke cabinetry, to organic beauty products, hand built bikes and even cutting edge renewable technology in the form of a Tesla Power Wall. We’ll  also be running a hub throughout the day offering advice on how to set up a sustainable small business, with HR specialists, apprenticeship advisors, green energy, marketing and social enterprise experts all on hand to support people to make their creative ideas a reality.

“We have Madame Mayor of Southwark presenting the New Business Awards at 12:30, and at 2:20 in the Hub, the ‘Conversation – High Streets of the Future’ is going to be chaired by local MP for Dulwich and West Norwood Helen Hayes.”

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What are you hoping to get out of the day?

“With issues like climate change and resource depletion growing concerns for the British public, sustainable enterprises like Blue Patch are more important than ever and we’re anticipating lots of interest in our ethical department store.

“Everyone I speak to recognises the importance of supporting small, local businesses to safeguard jobs and create taxable income. We hope that the enthusiasm for the department store will lead to doing more in future – we’d really like to work with landlords to host longer pop-ups in disused shop and department store buildings.

“Our intention with Blue Patch is to help to create a new, principled economy, supporting sustainable British business, increasing money spent in local communities and bringing jobs and opportunities for everybody.”

The Blue Patch sustainable department store will be open from 10am to 6pm on 1st of October at St Barnabas Parish Hall in Dulwich Village.  Informal business advice sessions run between 10 – 6 pm in the Hub (in the back section of the Parish Hall). 

For more information about the event or Blue Patch call Jane Langley on 020 7738 7267 mob: 07792726842 (




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