Emmaus, a charitable movement, was founded in France and although now international, the majority of its outlets continue to be found in France – in most big towns.
Started in 1949 by Priest Abbé Pierre, the intention was to help combat poverty and homelessness and that is very much the principle that remains at the heart of this amazing organisation.
The name Emmaus comes from a biblical story, it was a town in which Jesus was seen to be resurrected by witnesses according to the Gospel of Luke, thereby offering hope. Abbé Pierre saw the Emmaus community as helping people regain hope for the future, and although it sounds biblical Emmaus is not a religious organisation – the name is symbolic of hope.
Emmaus help people who are homeless, in poverty and socially excluded to use and develop their skills to help make changes for the better in their lives and communities.
This is done through taking part in charitable projects, renovating and restoring furniture and home products and many other ways but what they are best known for is their shops.
The Emmaus shops in France are usually a veritable treasure trove of selling all manner of recycled second hand goods, from furniture, bric-a-brac, records, books and clothes to cookers, fridges, electrical goods, French antiques and bicycles.
The goods are sold to help provide for those who need it in the form of housing, employment and financial aid.
In France there are 191 Emmaus communities in 87 departments. Emmaus workers collect, repair, clean and stock the shops with second hand and donated goods and then sell them on at a modest price.
One of the Emmaus shop staff told us “We set a fixed price, please tell your readers – we don’t bargain, we’re not like a broc, we set low prices already!” The shops are almost always well stocked; they are immaculately clean and the goods are sorted and laid out well. At Christmas some shops stock an additional range of Christmas trees, gifts and decorations at a great price.
How do I find an Emmaus France shop?
If you want to find an Emmaus store near where you live, visit or travel in France the Emmaus France website will help. It’s in French so here’s how to use it to find a shop:
On the home page for Emmaus France go to the Donner et Acheter à Emmaus (I want to Give and Buy at Emmaus)
Click on Je Souhaite Acheter (I Want to buy)
You have the option to specify if you want “tout type de matériel et du textile” (All types of materials and textiles) or just “textiles” – choose one.
Underneath where it states “Mon Code Postale” – put in the relevant department code eg for Pas-de-Calais it is 62 and you must put a town name for instance Calais.
Then click “J’accède à l’adresse de la structure proche de chez moi” (Go to the nearest shops near me) and a list will come up.
Of course they are very happy if you donate to Emmaus too, the same procedure but instead Je Souhaite Acheter, click on Je Souhaite Donner
Happy Bargain hunting!
(All pictures in this article taken at Emmaus at Rue Charles Sauvage, Echinghen, Boulogne –sur-Mer (roughly 30 minutes from Calais. There are several buildings to the store and it has a huge collection of furniture, electrical goods, textiles, china, toys, bags, antiques and much more.)