I like to think of it as 'Treasure Hunting for Grown Ups', although I may be kidding myself because I am actually just
a tight wad thriftily minded. There is just something about finding something wonderful, that fits, is keenly priced and is no longer wanted, needed or badly fitting to someone else. In fact, the majority of my wardrobe is now cobbled together from the excessive mores of other people's fashion whims, or the remnants of a bored housewives' desparate attempt to achieve some semblance of peace & purpose via the extensive flexing of an ill-advised credit card. And God bless every last one of them!
Now this is a charity shop that I had been in countless times without realising that there was a whole world of wonder upstairs. It reminds me of the charity and retro shops I used to visit as a student in Nottingham in the early 90's and has therefore become one of my favourite charity shops. Venture up a snug little staircase to find small themed rooms (apologies for the pics: I'm just getting the hang of my new phone..)
everything you need for a shimmery shiny, sequin-tastic night out, or just to make that Friday night takeaway curry a little more special
everything for the bride on a budget with a lust for meringues and sexual amnesia
'Rehab'? More 'Retox'
...a welcome for 'groovy chicks'...
Just behind me in the mirror, you can just see one of three rails, packed with every shade of man-made fibre ever knitted. I think my camera couldn't cope anymore and just said 'Enough now'. I'll get a pic when it's calmed down a bit
But don't forget that charity shops are a fantastic source for wonderful books, tossed out by ingrates, gawd bless 'em. Here are some I picked up recently:
from top: Dan Rhodes is a wonderful author, who lulls you into a cosy world of calm and warmth before kicking your much-loved cat down the stairs, although you do feel better for him doing so nonetheless. This book, however, stays warm and buys you a pint. Read him.
middle: the late Elspeth Thompson wrote the fabulous 'The Wonderful Weekend Book', an inspiring read to really help you make the most of your weekend. I bought it when I left my own weekend job and aim to gradually work through the suggestions.
bottom: I love Gisele Scanlon's energetic and informative 'Goddess' books, and 'The Goddess Experience' is just beautiful and addictive: I can't help but dip in and read about a life so remote from my own, although it contains enough attainable morsels for me not to feel depressed or inadequate. Sheathed in a perfectly functional and pretty white jacket, look what's underneath...
...as is the back
...as is the inside
Another useful resource is Green Metropolis: make a wish list, let it fester for a few months and feel like Xmas when one of the titles becomes available (I only ever seem to want books that no one sells on there.) I once bought a perfect copy of Andy Goldsworthy's 'Wood'...for £3.75! Wonderful! (actually, I think with postage it touched 5 whole pounds...)
Here are some handy rules to follow in order to get the most from your charity patronage-ing:
- Give clothes a good sniff: if it smells of wet dog / death, put it back. In my extensive experience, no amount of washing or fragrance dousing / pickling will get rid of that smell. You will think you've managed it until it meets the rain; that moistness will awaken the sodden-hound odour. Save your energies for something worthwhile, like knitting or tree hugging.
- Unless you really like 'upcycling' clothes and can do it competently without friends patting you on the head, saying 'Lovely dear' whilst slipping Prozac into your tea, do not buy anything that 'just' needs its sleeves shortening / waist nipping in / collar re-shaped etc. Know your limits and step away: let some other
foolseamstress tackle it (or you could get a professional to do it, if you really think it'll be worth it)
- Ponder what an 'upcycle' looks like and whether or not they are easy to ride
- Only buy something that really grabs you: if you think 'It'll do', put it back and move on. Drag some weak-ass understanding of karma into your brain, determining that if it doesn't leap out at you with joy, it is not meant to be and the universe will shun you and that feck-awful drop waisted devore sack you are tempted to buy just because, compared to the racks of beige polyester surrounding it, it looks 'interesting'
- Take your own carrier bags: it's one way to avoid the pinched-lip tut of the volunteers on the tills (carrier bags are like gold, though not as precious as The Decent Coat Hangers)
- Don't laugh and point at something on the rail, screaming 'My feckin eyes!!! What is it?!' I guarantee the person behind you was about to buy it and will now be left to shuffle solemnly out of the shop to re-evaluate not just their taste but whether it is connected to their inherent loneliness within
- Be careful not to buy back your own stuff, unless of course you are doing it for altruistic reasons, or because your minamalist spouse finally cracked and 'donated' it all
- When buying books, check that all the pages are there and in the right order. Then check the blurb to see if it's something you will actually read
- If you are a serial horder, consider the 'one in: one out' rule. The stuff we surround ourselves with should make us smile, not like we're trapped in a never ending ball pit of shoddy crockery, stained paisley and shit
- Do not argue / physically assault fellow treasure hunters over an item, unless the item in question is a brand new pair of Toast trousers, in your size(ish) for, no really, £2, in which case use every ounce of cunning and muscle tissue to get them
- Do not buy something that is not your size (especially important for teacups): you're just setting yourself up for a fall. Buy clothes once you've lost the weight: in the meantime, utilise belts and braces with quiet smugness
- Don't haggle! It's a charity shop for feck's sake! Unless your need for a Karen Millen (one button missing) jacket is more important than the cure for cancer, pay the price on the tag, you selfish idiot.