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Qanah – Charity Shop Pioneers in Croatia


Janet and Tomislav in front of the charity shop

Charity shops are a relatively new concept in Croatia. The first of its kind to open in the country was Qanah Charity Shop in Zagreb back in 2013…

The person credited with opening that shop is London-born Janet Tuškan, who moved to Zagreb in the mid 1980s as a student. Together with her husband Tomislav, the couple went from organising yard sales at their home to opening Qanah – the fist shop of its kind in Croatia.

So how did it all start?

Several years ago, in the process of decorating our living room, I realised that we have an awful lot of “stuff” that we never use, and which we only move from place to place when it gets in our way. As a result I decided to hold a yard sale at our home, to sell off some of our surplus “stuff” and engaged the help of some friends, who were familiar with that idea. The money we raised from the first sale was distributed to various worthy causes, including support for families affected by flooding around that time.

That was in the autumn and it seemed logical to follow this up with a “spring clean” sale early in the following year. And so a tradition was created and ever since then (about 5 or 6 years now) we have held spring and autumn yard sales regularly at our home. Many people, including most of our neighbours, look forward to the occasion and it is a real “day out” since we also offer food and drink in our garden to all who come.

Yard sale

Yard sale

A logical step on from this, and realising that most of us have way too much “stuff”, was to consider the idea of opening a charity shop. Of course anyone who has lived in the UK is very familiar with this idea, but in Croatia it is an unknown and extremely strange concept – that people would donate their surplus items for sale in order to raise money for some charitable cause. Encouraged by friends from the UK, who help run similar stores in Reading, we began to search for a location. This proved the hardest part since the rent for most properties is way too high to make any such project worthwhile. Finally we found a suitable property – smaller than we had hoped, but at a good price that we could cover from our own pockets if necessary. On 13th April 2013 we opened the doors of Qanah, the first charity shop of its kind in Croatia. The name is Hebrew and means “to buy” or “to redeem” and is also a reflection of our Christian faith, which is the foundation of all we do. In Qanah we “redeem” unwanted things and give them new life!

How is it all going?

Since the opening, Qanah has become a feature in the local neighbourhood, a place where people come not just to bring their unwanted things, but also to find hidden treasures, and to drink coffee and socialize with the volunteers and each other. A real community of regulars has grown up, and we hear nearly every day things like: “I don’t know what we would do without you”… Every day a variety of people come in: those in real financial need to whom we regularly give free items, or vouchers for a local supermarket (paid for from our proceeds); those who have some income but find it difficult to buy all they need for their children or grandchildren for instance, who find clothing and household items, even birthday presents in our shop which they can “buy” for small donations of money; those who are relatively well-off but enjoy finding “bargains” amongst the wide selection and often unexpected range of items in the shop; those who have not yet caught on to the idea that the shop is not just for the needy but also for anyone who enjoys a bargain, but who are glad to find a home for the treasured items they no longer have room for; and those who are simply looking for a bit of company, a listening ear and a place to spend a few minutes of their day with a free cup of coffee.

Over the two and a half years since we opened, Qanah has used its proceeds to buy school supplies for Roma children and others, paid many people’s bills (electricity etc.) when they were unable to do so, bought a window for a needy family to help repair their home, paid car registration fees for a family with many children, etc. etc. We do not make a huge “profit” but all of us who help give our time free of charge, so all the money we have left after paying our own bills goes to help the people around us.

You can visit Qanah yourself at Rudeška 160a, Vrbani, Zagreb, Tues-Fri from 11.00-18.00 and Sat. 10.00-14.00, or Omiška 7, Knežija, Zagreb, on Saturdays 10.00-14.00. If you have any questions, you can call 099 7800052. For regular up-dates “like” them on Facebook – Qanah Trgovina rabljenih stvari – Charity Shop

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