Thrift store

Nool: a Chennai thrift store for survivors of gender-based violence

The store is run by PCVC, an organization that works with survivors of gender-based violence, and was created with survivors’ right to choose in mind.

The International Foundation for Crime Prevention and Victim Support (PCVC) has opened a shop in Chennai for victims of gender-based violence they work with. The thrift store is full of cute clothes from well-known brands, handbags, children’s games, jewelry and household items. Nool: Weave your Future, is exclusively for survivors of gender-based violence who have left their homes and need to start their lives afresh. It’s a space where survivors can worthily purchase things beyond what the PCVC shelter already provides in its kits. Items can be purchased against coupons provided to them by PCVC.

“Anything they buy should not just meet their basic needs,” says Swetha Shankar, PCVC’s Senior Programs Manager, “It can also meet a need. This ambitious aspect of the store is also what we are focusing on. When survivors can choose what they can wear and how they can keep their homes, it’s also about being able to take back control, she stresses. “Many survivors may not have been able to choose what they wore on a daily basis before leaving their homes,” says Swetha.

Princella Suresh, Domestic Violence and Psychosocial Intervention Manager at PCVC, recalls an interaction with a survivor. “She told me how at home she was not allowed to wear a skirt and top. She was told, “You are a married woman with a child. You should only wear sarees. It is our tradition. Her family said it was ‘not right’ to wear a skirt and a top,” Princella says. Thus, for a survivor to exercise choice, it becomes empowering.

Nool’s two-room boutique is lit with cozy yellow lights. Soothing murals adorn the walls with a thickly curtained test room in one corner. Rows of ethnic and western clothing for adults and children hang from neat shelves. The aesthetic is every bit as pleasing as the boutique showrooms across town. Survivors who work with PCVC can access the store by appointment, and it is also open to survivors who are referred by PCVC’s partner organizations.

Sandhya, who joined PCVC about a month ago, works at the store. “The clothes come from various donations. We spent weeks sorting, cleaning and setting up the store. If the clothes given to us are too old, we throw them away,” says Sandhya. There are also a few new items, like cloth face masks which of course shouldn’t be used second-hand.

PCVC is always open to donations of clothing, bedding, accessories, bags, shoes and more as long as contributors keep the guidelines below in mind. Those looking to donate can contact PCVC at [email protected]