I have to admit I love a good charity shop. Although it seems that they are the only flourishing business on our sad High Streets, there's recently been a resurgence in the trend of shopping thrifty and as a result, the stock in charity shops has become less about granny's clothes from the 1980s, and more fashionista's dream! They've become treasure troves, places where anything can be found, not just your usual array of puzzles, Mills and Boon tattered books, and 90s Marks and Spencer blouses!
Even Mary Portas is getting in on the act. Strangely enough, she helped to turn around the fortunes of one of the shops in Orpington, which has, unfortunately suffered a cruel blow and is now just an empty shell with a "To Let" sign propped above the windows, and a note on the door.
For those who are interested, this is what the shop looked like:
This was a vintage jewel in its prime. The stock was arranged so beautifully, with accessories pinned to the walls and racks of vintage clothes by era. I LOVED Save the Children, Orpington, the staff were really friendly and didn't mind if you wanted to try a lot of stock on! During my visits to this little gem I purchased a beautiful 1930s purse, a pair of 1960s wool/leather yellow gloves, and my very first vintage dress, which was, ashamedly, a 1960s crimplene dress.
The actual shop has now relocated to further along the High Street, but unlike its smaller version, it does not stock the same high quality vintage garments which became its trademark USP. Mary's work is now, sadly, undone, and this was shown when I had to explain to the staff that the sizing on a 1960s dress does not correspond to modern day sizing. Do your research, please!
I took a trip to my local town of Orpington, which is, like most towns currently filled with charity shops. There must be at least twelve on the (former) High Street, but only some of them have the really interesting stuff besides the usual collection of last year's Primark collections, which is annoying in itself!
As Orpington is a neighbour to Chislehurst, you can find some amazing expensive one off designer pieces, I even found a 1980s Radley dress!
On my tour of the charity shops I discovered these gorgeous cases which were being used as part of a window display.
When I asked the lady in the shop if they were for sale, she replied by saying £5 for the two. An absolute bargain! These cases can sell from between £25-£45 at vintage fairs. Further up on the High Street I found yet another one, for £3.75! So I bought that too!
Imagine my surprise when I got home to find that two of them were labelled inside! The red one is a St Michael creation, "Made in Great Britain", the white one is a Crown Co creation and the blue is actually from Boots the Chemist! I can only assume that Boots sold this type of item in their stores in a previous capacity!
There's a lovely retro inspired boutique called The Maypole which has a selection of 'vintage' clothing at the far back of the shop where I managed to find this 1980s C&A Clock House dress (doing the 50s style with a high waist and long skirt) for just £8!
I would recommend any savvy vintage shoppers to make the effort to visit their local towns and the charity shops as you never know what you might find!
After posting these on Twitter I also noted that someone else, @AmberButchart had also expressed her love of charity shops and suggested it would be great to get charity shops trending on Twitter!
So, what do you think? Charity shops, hit or miss?