Today something unexpected happened to me.
I dropped my daughter off to pre-school and one of the staff looked at me and said how much she loved my dress. Usually I would have just said thanks and moved on. Today, instead, I found myself doing something I don’t usually do. Admitting it was second-hand and telling her proudly I got it for £2 from a charity shop. I was delighted when, instead of looking uncomfortable, she beamed and said how much she loved charity shops herself and always shopped around the cheaper ones when she visited family in other areas. This really made my day.
I know loads of people who buy clothes from second-hand stores in Cornwall. There are charity shops on many a high street, more so there, in every third building or so in some cases. However, up here, there is a certain amount of snobbery that comes along with living in a more central location. I am currently in Birmingham, a big city where you have all the high street names in one place, from Topshop to Zara to the more affordable every day clothes stores such as New Look or Primark. A few friends up here I have mentioned my love of charity shops to have given funny and somewhat awkward responses at times, ranging from disbelief that I would choose to venture into these places, to a few plastic smiles trying to hide their discomfort with an idea that doesn’t quite fit with what we have been trained as a nation to do.
Above: One of my favourite £4 charity shop dresses x
So to get todays reactions really made me feel elated that second-hand buying on the whole is really becoming more accepted and no longer just for niche markets like over priced vintage stores. It’s funny that people see nothing wrong with getting a second-hand bed frame or a wooden piece of furniture off Ebay, yet the thought of wearing a used persons clothes has some feeling a little queasy, if they are honest. My friend used to say to me that she only bought new for the simple reason that charity shops were full of dead people’s clothes and that it made her feel a bit sick. I am sure some are clothes from house clearances, and this was made more apparent to me when we bagged up my Nans clothes and donated them to sell. However, there are people, like me, that have regular clear outs and take bags of clothes round to their local charity shop. Donations are made from all walks of life. I think the point is, it doesn’t matter where it came from, but much like us as individuals, what matters is the purpose it’s now serving.
Above: Emi in her brand new tags £1.50 Ebay top. RRP £8.00
Some people’s opinions on these shops are downright outrageous though. My Nan told me about a man she once knew, who put all his clothes in his kitchen bin to go to landfill, saying he would rather do that or even go as far as to burn them, than think of someone else walking around in his clothes. His clothes that he didn’t want anymore anyway. It makes no sense to me. Giving your clothes to charity serves several purposes, including preventing unnecessary waste. It also can be re sold, with the money going directly towards a worthy cause. Two birds with one stone right there!
Above: One of my best finds. Brand new with tag £1.49 swimsuit from Boots Mini Club range. Would have been around £14.00 in store
I have personally found charity shops an eye opener. You can go into one and have no idea what you will come across, I really like the surprise element. It’s like an indoor car boot sale, you know the saying, one persons junk is another persons treasure. It is so true. Of course, sometimes you find nothing and some of it is junk but there are also times when you find a real treat at an amazing price and those times I feel really proud for being both thrifty as well as charitable. I love the buzz of getting a bargain and seeing people’s shock when I tell them how much I managed to buy it for.
Yes I could go to Zara and buy a top for £30, one of 20 identical ones off the rail, wear it a few times and get bored and want something else the next month. Personally, I love the idea of rummaging through a random rail and finding a real gem at a bargain price!
I recently found a lemon print rainmac for Emi from Next for £4.50. It would have cost £30 new and still looks new. Why would I push my budget and spend 6 times what I got it for, just to be able to say its new. In saying that, I have also picked up many brand new with tags still attached items from these shops. People are generally wasteful and I am sure we all have had one item in our wardrobe at some point that we forgot to take back and get a refund on. It’s never going to get worn, so the obvious thing to do is to donate it. There are loads of brand new items to be found, so a lot of second-hand shop stuff isn’t even technically used. Even if you can’t find new, whats the big deal anyway?
Think about it. When you buy something from a shop, it’s always used anyway. Have you ever thought about how many people have tried that particular item of clothing on in the shop fitting rooms or bought it already and returned it? Everything is used anyway! This way at least, you can update your wardrobe far more often and do a good deed at the same time by donating money to charity rather than giving it to another big wig at the head of a major high street brand. Dont get me wrong, I’m not saying I never shop in the high street and buy new.
I do. But always in the sale! 😉
These shops have also been a bit of a saviour to my budget. As a single mom, it’s often hard to keep up with everything a growing three-year old needs. A smart mamma knows that babies and toddlers don’t get much wear out of their clothes anyway. I think it’s becoming more fashionable to admit to buying second-hand, especially where children are concerned.
A few weeks back I took my girl to the cinema and wanted to buy some sweets beforehand to take in with us (I’m not paying cinema prices!!). We got into the shop and she was randomly sick all down the sweet isle! The staff were great, helping me clean her up and even leant me a dressing gown from the kids department so that I could go and buy her a new outfit (The one day I didn’t pack a spare!) I bought her a dress from Next for £6 to put on immediately as it was the closest shop (And I thought people would think me a lazy mom who took their kid out in a dressing gown if I carried her any further!)But the thought of it happening again made me hunt for a spare set before going to the cinema. Just incase! I headed to our local Cancer Research shop and found her a matching cat outfit (leggings and T-shirt) for the total price of £2.50. My spare budget that week was pretty tied up, so to not have had to go into H&M and spend £10 on a spare dress was a total blessing and she adores her cat outfit! Charity shop to the rescue again!
Above: Emi happy in her new best £2.50 cat outfit x
I don’t limit it to clothes either. Charity shops are great for books and household items like kitchen ware. Especially if you love all things shabby chic like me. People also make handmade pieces such as knitted cardigans or blankets, and donate them just to help raise money for a good cause, just because they have the time to do so. (Yes, there are still some lovely people in this crazy world.) I personally love that I can pick up one of a kind hand-made items that someone has put a lot of love and effort into and it is completely original. My daughters favourite blanket was picked up for £3 from one of our local charity shops that has a special handmade section we often love to browse in.
Nearly all of my furniture is second-hand too and although you can get some good bits in shops, I nearly always browse locally on Ebay items, as if you bid rather than buy at a set price, you can get them really cheap if you can arrange delivery or collection.
My 3 piece suite and chair were £80 together (they wanted £120, I haggled.) It is from one of those expensive sofa companies and would have cost them hundreds new. I picked up my daughters stacker bed for £21 on auction via Ebay. Of course it helps to have a helpful driver friend to help you collect it. If you can arrange collection, you can get some brilliant bargains. These beds retail for £200 brand new and the mattress was hardly used and thrown in with the cost of the bed!Above: My second-hand chair and tv unit. Total Bargains x
I’ve also just had a change of colour scheme in my living room and have been looking for some suitable new furniture for ages. I found a tv cabinet I loved advertised for £40. I saw on the listing that the seller was moving abroad and needed a quick sale. Having seen a matching desk and table in her other items for sale, I asked what she would accept for a quick sale and I got all 3 items for £50! She even threw in the paint! Its proper chunky solid furniture that will last for years and I am thrilled when I find things I can really cherish and make my home feel like a home.
Above: My beloved desk and table, part of a set of 3 I got for £50
You can probably guess that I love car boots too, although I don’t go to many of these. There are so many ways to get good bargains and source different things these days. We don’t all have to pay full price on the high street either!
So, I hope a few people reading this have maybe opened their eyes up to possible new ways of shopping if they had a different perspective of second-hand buying before. It’s really nothing to be scared of or looked down upon at all. There will always be new stuff in the world. But whats wrong with a little recycling every now and again! Happy shopping 😉 xx