Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Second hand, not second rate.

I have come to the conclusion that I love clothes but hate shopping. Well, I have always known I hate shopping apart from buying books, stationery and, weirdly, charity shop shopping. There is no pressure with charity shop shopping because if they have not got something in your size then you don’t get it, if they do not have it in a colour you like, you don’t buy it. There are no expectations and no disappointment.

These days the charity shops are mainly run by one professional manager and a group of volunteer staff. The products are usually clean and smell fine. (I still always wash things as soon as I get them home)

One woman’s rubbish/ bad buy/ wrong size purchase is sometimes exactly what you are looking for. For example, the colour orange was in a lot last year and is still going strong. Not all women can wear it but will have bought it because it is “on trend”. When they realise it looks hideous they will donate it to the charity shop. I am very lucky and can wear orange and have found some lovely pieces this year. ( I cannot wear yellow, beige or cerise pink so have learned to avoid it. Luckily for me there are many women who are slaves to fashion.)

Weight loss or gain is another reason that nice pieces of clothes end up in the charity shops. We have all had that post diet clear out or that sudden realisation that all the clothes we were keeping “in case” will never fit and we have donated to the charity shop of our choice. It is not uncommon to find pieces with labels still attached which have clearly never been worn. (I tend to avoid the items which have been well loved). The average things I buy in the charity shops do not look second hand but can be exactly what I am looking for.

We all, from time to time, buy something we are not sure about, wear it once or maybe twice then never wear it again. These items are also ones that end up on the rails of the local hospice shop, or Oxfam or one of the many other deserving causes. Yet again, one person’s very bad purchase can end up as a well worn favourite for someone else.

Bags are something I buy from charity shops but I have had a couple of dodgy handles so need to be more careful. Filofaxes are the first thing I look for in a new charity shop and I have found some brilliant ones. I always like looking at any other stationery and, of course books.  There is a fantastic Woking hospice charity shop in Horsell in Woking where you can buy three paperbacks for £5. Every time you spend £5 you get your card stamped and when you have spent a total of £50 you get £5 off. This is a great way to buy books and so much cheaper than some of the other charity bookshops. Their hard backs and non-fiction books are individually, but very reasonably priced.

I think the days of smelly, tatty goods being sold in dingy, musty charity shops is, to a large degree, over. There will always be the odd one that thinks piling dirty old things into a small, mismanaged space, is the way to go but a majority of the charity shops are now well stocked with an interesting array of well organised products and very good displays.

There is a Phyllis Tuckwell charity shop in Quarry Street in Guildford which has better window displays in their small window than some of the large department stores with their visual merchandisers manage to produce. They either pick a theme, like Christmas, winter, Easter etc or a single colour for their display. Sometimes they have chosen pieces that go together and create their own theme like an African theme they had recently. This included ornaments, jewellery and animal print clothes as well as other pieces which matched together to make a well considered window display.

I know there are sometimes people who are snobby about buying second hand items and they are the people who miss out on amazing bargains which you can find while giving to deserving causes. There used to be a stigma about buying used items but I think the huge, worldwide Vintage market has helped raise the profile of all kind s of second hand purchasing.  (Charity shops, car boot sales, Ebay, etc)

Finally I have included a picture of all the orange pieces I have bought in charity shops recently.  (all orange, just different shades) The jacket was only £7 and is brilliant condition. The scarf was, in fact from my sister but she bought it in a charity shop anyway. The most expensive piece is the jacket at £7 and the cheapest is the patterned top at £4.