Belgium’s first circular shopping centre has opened in Brussels, on the Chaussée de Charleroi in Saint-Gilles. A circular shopping centre has nothing particular about its shape. Rather, the name refers to the principles of the circular economy: ensuring that products and materials used remain as long as possible in circulation, rather than being used once and then disposed of.
Yuman is a pop-up centre made up of eight shops housed in a former Suzuki car showroom. The businesses signed up so far offer slow cosmetics, bags and accessories made with recycled fabrics, environmentally-friendly wrapping, women’s wear, personalised accessories for men, cleaning products and maternity wear rental.
Food and drinks providers are planned for the future, the organisers say. The project is planned to last for six months, but hopes to be able to remain longer.
“The idea started in 2017 when entrepreneur Christel Droogmans, one of the initiators of the new shopping centre, came to see us,” said Ingrid De Roo of thrift store ViTeS, which is involved in the project. “We had noticed that more and more people want to be consumers in a different way, and that more and more shops are active in what we call the short chain. We wanted to bring them all together.”
According to a report by Bruzz, the businesses involved – some of which are too small to be able to afford retail premises of their own in the city – were screened to ensure they were in line with the philosophy of the project. “The shops were carefully selected for sustainability,” De Roo told the paper. “We weren’t simply looking for something hip, or getting involved in greenwashing,” referring to the practice of appearing to be sustainable without actually adhering to the principles.
“For that reason we even went a long way for the installation of the shopping centre, using second-hand materials brought from the WTC building”. The two oldest towers of the World Trade Centre complex by the North station in Brussels recently closed to be replaced by a new complex of offices, apartments and a hotel.
Still to come is a familiar part of any shopping centre: a food and drinks section. “The food and drinks section of the centre is not yet completed,” De Roo said. “But as soon as it is, we expect a lot of new visitors to come to find out about the concept.”