Personal effects on sale in public interest

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The shop displays a collection of art and accessories donated by singers and actors. The owners of the unique store, including Truc Linh (in black), donate all proceeds to charity.

It is difficult to have multiple parties in a transaction and close it with a win-win situation for all four of them, but the aptly named Nhip cau (Bridge) store is confident it can be done.

Owned by famous emcee Do Thuy, an editor and anchor on Ho Chi Minh City Television (HTV), and businesswoman Nguyen Thi Truc Linh, the recently opened store sells and auctions mementoes donated by celebrities, and donates the proceeds to charity.

Since it is a project driven by purely altruistic motives, the donors, the store owners, the buyer and the target beneficiaries will derive satisfaction from every transaction, hope the owners.

The store opened last Thursday on 108A Pham Viet Chanh Street, District 1, putting on display hundreds of items donated by celebrities ranging from hats, sunglasses, dresses and even a painting by famous composer Trinh Cong Son.

Supermodel turned actor and emcee Binh Minh said that the sunglasses he donated was a gift from his wife.

"No matter how much (they sell for), the glasses are a gift from my wife and me to the poor. We, and other artists, will do our utmost to help Thuy expand her store in the future," he said.

Truong Ngoc Anh's clock was a special gift given by her husband while they were on their honeymoon in Italy.

While Giang My's portrait by Trinh Cong Son is probably the most valuable keepsake on sale with a starting price of US$10,000, most other items are priced between VND50,000 and VND20 million.

While small items can be bought on the spot, those interested in bidding for higher priced mementoes can register their details with the store to receive information about when and where the item will be auctioned.


Actress Truong Ngoc Anh's clock will auctioned in June at a starting price of US$900

On the opening day, it appeared that celebs were interested in making a few purchases of their own. A series of tiny hats donated by singer Pham Thanh Thao was snapped up by photographer Long Thuy.

While it's early days yet, Do Thuy is already planning ahead about taking the initiative further. She said if things go smoothly with the store, she plans to organize a music and fashion show called Nhip cau nhan ai (Bridge of kindness) where keepsakes donated by artists will be auctioned for charity.

A reality show featuring the celebrities is also in the offing, she said.

Thuy said she was inspired to use celebrity mementoes as a means of helping the poor while hosting the realty show Ngoi nha mo uoc (Dream house). The show identifies needy households and surprises them with a house of their own.

The show, with every episode featuring touching scenes of families in tears on having an unexpected roof above their heads, made its hostess an audience favorite.

First aired in 2005, the show hosted by Thuy donated more than 200 houses costing VND25 million each to needy families from all parts of the country.

Thuy said the relationship she struck with celebrities gave her the idea of appealing to their generosity.

"Instead of donating money, they could present some of their beloved souvenirs to auction for charity. It would also be a chance for them to come closer to their fans, who in turn, can support a great cause by buying their idols' mementoes.

"The stars will fix the price of their own tokens and bidding will start when customers come to my store. Everyone acts out their hearts."

Thirty celebs have responded to Nhip cau so far, but finding fans might not be as easy.

One of the sales girls at the store said that since the opening ceremony, the shop has welcomed several visitors who had no idea that the items were celebrities' mementoes.

"Some of the real fans did not buy anything, while the others who did not know about the shop actually made some purchases. Some newspapers have interviewed our owners about the shop, but they did not give the readers the address," she said, smiling.

Linh, the store's co-owner, said she does not worry about the business because she knows they are doing the right thing and will be supported by increasing numbers of well-known local artists. And she had one more piece of information to share.

"Thuy is also recording an album that has her singing for the first time. My friend and business partner has good voice and I hope the album will be sold out. All the album's profits will be donated to charity, of course."

Nhip cau is setting up an official website, www.nhipcaunhanai.vn, to announce details regarding auctions, charity events, and sales. Many artists have pledged to help find disadvantaged people that need help.

Linh said they aim to be completely transparent about their activities so the public is assured that this project is not being used to boost personal images. She said they hope that once the website is up, more people will join hands to take the social project further.

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