Why Charity Shops Are the Way to Go


Yes, I’m back. I have submitted all my MA applications (yay) and have a week off work (double yay). So far I have done very little. I haven’t written anything, which is a very poor effort on my part. I know, I know, I need to get back in the game but this is all beside the point.

On Monday I decided to wander around town because I have giftcards from Christmas to spend. I started off in Dorothy Perkins. My card had the value of £15. I figured that would be enough for a nice top or something. I was wrong. I found a few dresses that I loved but varied in price from £30 to £60. Now, I’m not going to use a gift card to spend money that I wouldn’t normally, that’s just plain stupid. Besides, it’s what they’d want me to do – they probably make loads of money from idiots spending over their gift card amounts. There’s no way I’m gonna fall in that trap, thank you very much. All I found that was less than £15 were boring basic tops – we’re talking no design whatsoever. Some were pretty colours but I was hoping to get something a bit more special, you know?

The gift card is usable for a few shops, including the one which happened to be next door to Dorothy Perkins – Wallis. At first I hated everything on sight – the materials were nice but the designs reminded me of pretentious house-wives or middle-aged retail workers (housewives with jobs to keep them from getting bored – it is perhaps no coincidence that the women working in the shop were both middle-aged and pretentious.) Anyhoo, eventually I did find a jumper I liked. Again, it was basic – no design – but it was so soft and warm. In the sale, it was £25. I would have been tempted to buy it and break my golden rule but when I tried it on, the colour made me look like someone who’d escaped from the hospital to die. Not exactly ideal. If it hadn’t been in the sale, they would have expected someone to pay £40. I don’t care how nice the material is – there’s no way I’d ever pay that much for a simple jumper.

So, I headed over the road to Topshop, thinking that they’d at least be more likely to have my sort of style (I used to shop in Topshop quite a lot before being a student and then an unemployed graduate drained my finances). I did like a lot of their clothes, even though a lot of them were so obviously ‘in style’ that wearing them would be to adopt a certain look and all the character traits that went with it – usually art student. On glancing at a few prices, howeverm it soon became obvious that I would not find anything of £15 or under in there. A flimsy scrap of fabric cost £30. I don’t even know what it was meant to be. Some sort of top, perhaps? God, this is making me sound old. In desperation, I headed for the tiny sale section. In January, the sale section encompassed almost the entire shop – a mess of clothes flung over the rails, their hangers abandoned on the floor with more clothes just dumped in heaps. I figured that, with the sale section so big and busy, it would be pretty much impossible for staff to keep it tidy. Imagine my surprise and disappointment when I discovered the staff couldn’t even manage to keep two rails of sale items in a reasonable state. Again with the jumbled mess of clothes – many of which had been damaged as a result. If you can keep the entire shop floor looking beautiful, how can you be so completely defeated by two rails? To the point where your goods are unsaleable? Is a disgrace, Topshop staff. I found something I liked – a grey, woolen jumper dress and was going to try it on when the madness passed and I had a moment of sanity – the dress cost £25 in the sale. I’d be forking out an extra £10 for it. £25 was overpriced as it was, let alone the £40 it had been before. I put it back and left the shop.

As I ambled home, feeling like a failure, I found myself stepping into a charity shop. On a quick rifle through I found a gorgeous dress. It was a wool-like material, white with flowers on but in a tasteful way and a simple, tight-fitting style. I tried it on. It fitted and it suited me. It was different to all of the stuff I’d seen in town, without looking outdated. It would be perfect for Spring. The charity shop demanded the ridiculous amount of £3.75 for it. If it had been in any of the other shops I’d been in that day it would have been £30 at least. Probably more like £40. I bought it.

Oh, so I got conned into buying something because it was in a charity shop, right? Something I might not even have looked twice at if it was in a high-street shop. This is possibly the case. I might not have looked twice at it in Topshop. I might even have dismissed it as ‘the girly look’. I definitely would not have bought it in a high-street shop, even in the sale it would be over budget. No, I would not have paid the £40 Topshop would have demanded for it but I didn’t have to pay £40, I paid £3.75. For that reason, I’m happy I bought it.

So, yes, charity shops are the way to go. Instead of buying an overpriced scrap of fabric that everybody has, you’ll end up with a very reasonable priced item that’s unique. Which would you prefer?


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