Purchase with a Purpose

The UmhlangaJune 17, 2024

Within Glenore Centre in Durban North, there’s a piece of the uplighting spirit of LIV Village, where people come together to shop and eat in support of this organisation. Welcome to LIV Store.


If you’ve been a KZN local for a while, you’ve probably heard of LIV (Lungisisa Indlela Village meaning ‘The Right Way’), an NGO focused on changing the lives of vulnerable children. Whether you’ve visited LIV Village or not, this organisation is close to many hearts. 

Founders Tich and Joan Smith had always wanted to open a space for the greater East Coast community to come together – to bring the Village to town. During COVID, against all odds, they took a leap of faith and opened LIV Store in Durban North towards the end of 2020

A challenge was figuring out exactly what the store would offer. Joan wanted a thrift store, while Tich thought a coffee shop would be a great idea. So, they decided to put the two ideas together! LIV Store has become a haven of shopping and eating, where all proceeds go towards the beloved non-profit.

As you walk in, you’re greeted by a treasure trove of decor pieces from mugs and glasses to pillows and paintings. Racks of the most unique pieces of clothing fill the store and shelves are packed with various books, CDs and DVDs. There’s also a kids section with a variety of toys, games and clothes for the little ones. It’s very easy to spend hours in this shop looking through their varying collections to find a gem to take home. 

Most of the stock are donated, secondhand items, but you can pick up some new pieces they sell on consignment, such as Kookaburra cricket gear, end-of-sale products from shops and Lavender Linen clothing and bedding. LIV has branded clothes and accessories, and one of their baristas sells his own clothing range, Be You, in-store. LIV Creative pieces are also available – homeware made by two local ladies using stunning shweshwe fabric.

Towards the back of the store is the cafe – a peaceful setting that’s perfect for getting some work done, chatting with friends or meeting with colleagues. They even have a quaint boardroom with a TV that can be booked by businesses. Their menu is simple yet delicious. From build-your-own breakfasts and toasted sandwiches to cakes and baked goods, they try to source ingredients and items locally as much as possible. Their counter is also often frequented by people picking up their takeaway coffee or a quick bite to eat. 

All of this is managed by Jan-George, along with the help of Esme, who had been part of the LIV family for a while before taking over the store. Running LIV Store is no easy feat. The items go through an extensive process before they ‘hit the shelves’. All of the donations are moved from their store to a warehouse, where Esme, staff, volunteers and LIV interns (young adults who grew up in LIV Village) work together to sort, categorise and clean the items. LIV Village has first option on all the items – on top of the proceeds from the store, the organisation gets some budget relief through the furniture, clothes and toys that local people and businesses kindly donate.

Almost nothing is thrown away! Pieces that can’t be sold at LIV Store are sold to the local community at very discounted prices. They also have a programme that upskills and trains women from local townships to sell their items and make a living. If all else fails, they try their best to recycle the things that are too old or broken. “We generally don’t say no to anything!” Jan-George says.

The rise of thrifting has also helped to shape the store into what it is today. “I like to say that we’re a boutique thrift store,” says Esme. “We push the idea of ‘purchase with purpose’. There’s a purpose in upcycling and selling our stock, and the profits go towards making an even bigger impact.”

Growing the cafe was also a community effort. The team from We Are Food, a Durban North-based business that offers delicious frozen meals, helped to create the menu. The talented ladies in the kitchen trained through LIV’s culinary school and make every meal and drink with love. Their scrumptious dishes and great coffee, made by expert baristas, have gained this spot many regulars. 

Great things are on the horizon for LIV Store. They recently opened a pop-up store in Cornubia and are planning to open two more stores with coffee shops in the next year. Many more interns from LIV Village are set to join the team, teaching them the value of working and earning a living. Jan-George and Esme are also passionate about growing their online presence and eventually creating an online store, including auctions on rarer, more expensive items. 

“We are extremely grateful to everyone who donates, buys our items or spends time in our cafe,” Jan-George and Esme conclude. “We are all about bringing the community together to help those who need it most.”


Words: Jordyn Trollip