Yesterday was ENTIRELY unsuccessful in the second-hand tour of East London. We walked from Monument to Mile End Road to look through the East End Thrift Store. Don’t believe the flyer when it says that ‘almost all’ are £10 or less. I didn’t see one dress under £15. I’m not going to criticise the store for not having anything that didn’t suit my personal style – because I think that actually the store is really good. If you like 80s clothing, a lot of flowery dresses, plaid shirts (for men) etc. We didn’t really see anything that we liked which was unfortunate as we’d walked so far to get there – however I can see why it’s popular. It’s off the beaten track, it’s well organised and friendly. So if you like your fashion flowery or plaid – go there. It’s reasonably cheap and well stocked.
After failing there we wandered towards Brick Lane and went into my favourite shop – Junky Styling. I can’t afford anything there but I love to look at their new designs – they had a beautiful OAK dress styled from a man’s suit. At £250 it was a real steal – just not a real steal for my pocket! They didn’t really have a lot in stock though – which was really disappointing – I was hoping to introduce M to my favourite store!
Then we wandered to my favourite vintage store – Beyond Retro. I remember finding it with a friend of mine a couple of years back when we went on one of our wanders around East London. It’s a treasure trove of retro clothing that’s simply fun to trawl through. Unfortunately M’s not into trying on jump suits and wedding dresses – so it wasn’t such an enjoyable experience.
We then wandered, and wandered and wandered. The world of vintage and upcycling is becoming EXTREMELY trendy and unfortunately, when something becomes trendy in London it become expensive. I think I’m going to stick to my charity shops, car boot sales and jumble sales.
Sorry that this post is so dull – I’m very very tired from going out for a wonderful meal last night – and I want to sleep.
Yesterday I went on my usual lunch time wander – and was shocked at how few clothes there are in the charity shops. The stress of the recession on thrifting – there are so many of us now going to charity shops – many of whom didn’t go before – and less clothing donations – which means less clothes. Also you have the swappers, the ‘vintage’ clothing stores and car boot sales (where people can earn money from their own discarded clothes) – this means that there are less and less clothes going into these shops.
Saturday I’m taking a bag of clothes to the two shops I regularly plunder – Cancer Research and British Red Cross. I owe it to them! I was saving clothes for a swap but I’ve realised what effect I’m having. Arghhhhhhhh by trying to be ‘green’ I’m having and adverse effect on charity shops – can a woman never win???? ha ha
Here are a few more links about this ‘crisis’ in charity shops:
Third Sector Report
Also – there have been complaints (can you believe this?) about Oxfam’s book shops. Oxfam have been accused of almost ‘Tesco’ and (for the States) ‘Walmart’ style targeting of areas. They open up their stores near other second hand bookshops and the owners of these have seen their profits plummet. This is so sad – yes I support the independent booksellers – however I support a charity over personal profit. There’s always a problem, someone is always going to suffer when someone else (in this case a charity) profits. However it can be said that Oxfam are behaving like a large corporation – plunging their shops onto high streets and ‘taking business away’ from the smaller shops.
New York Times article – “Oxfam killed my bookshop”
Inprint – plans to open more stores
I think what is sad is that you’re not going to get ‘gems’ in Oxfam stores. The send them off to sell on the internet – which means browsing the store isn’t going to turn up anything of wonder. They’re generally clean and tidy stores – unlike the ‘typical’ British second-hand bookstores – which are generally a health and safety issue to enter (and more the interesting for it). I think Oxfam should be thinking about the overall effect they are having. They are more than capable of going into areas where there is a lack of second hand book stores and they will be successful.
I personally don’t go into the stores – not out of any principle – just that they’re completely over-priced! I don’t like Oxfam stores – there’s something too ‘clean and tidy’ about them. When I go thrifting I want to smell the dust, I want to have to take a hit of my asthma inhaler, I want to HUNT for the bargain. Too many charity shops are becoming sanitised and pretty – I know that this attracts NEW clients but I miss the ramshackle charity shops of my childhood.
So in my second hand life I’m going to support everyone I can. The smaller shops, the independent traders and as many charities as I can!
Well – this is an experiment at first – for the rest of the year.
1) I am not to buy anything NEW unless essential e.g. underwear, food, drinks etc.
2) If I DO buy something new (ie: if I lose my nose-stud for example) then I have to donate at least 2 items to a charity shop
3) I can buy a new item as a present IF it’s handmade
4) I must post photos and details about all my second hand goodness
5) I can buy second hand goods from charity shops, vintage shops, car boot sales, jumble sales, ebay and from friends
Simple enough? I think so. I mostly buy second hand anyway – it’s just getting into the habit of doing it.
I’m not doing this as some sort of ‘this is my green life’ or anything like that. It’s just a way for me to document my second hand buys – I absolutely love thrift shopping. There is something intrinsically joyous about finding a bargain at a car boot sale, or in a charity shop and KNOWING that other people can’t just go out and buy the same thing straight away.
Or, I love knowing that I’m looking for something (generally a book) and searching everywhere for that elusive second hand bargain. I remember when I was at the book market on the South Bank with a friend of mine, and I said to her ‘I could really do with finding a great book about cemeteries’ (I photograph cemeteries – http://www.londonnecropolis.com) and straight away I found one 🙂 Currently I’m looking for a used copy of “The Forgotten Garden” by Kate Morton. I really enjoyed “The House at Riverton”, but I refuse to pay ridiculous prices for new books. I know that the authors must be paid but I just can’t afford it at the moment and I’ve always bought second hand books.
So there you go … the start of my quest to live the second-hand life.