This article was written for Annabel & Grace, which is now part of Rest Less.
My name is Yorkshire Lass and I’m an addict. A vintage store addict. An interesting looking thrift shop in a tucked away part of town addict. A bring and buy event at the church hall addict. A car boot sale on the village green addict. They are all like cat-nip to me because I enjoy a good old rummage around in other people’s discarded stuff. Their unwanted rubbish is my potential treasure. And don’t get me started on charity shops. Sorry, but there it is. It’s definitely a psychiatric condition. Or if it isn’t, it should be. Chronic jumblemania, perhaps?
My delight in visiting somewhere picturesque (like York or Oxford, for example) doesn’t, to my eternal shame, have much to do with the impressive history, amazing architecture or stunning scenery. But it has everything to do with the treasures just waiting to be discovered in the charity shops. In fact, I was overcome recently by a particularly acute attack of jumblemania in York whilst Husband was safely diverted with work related stuff. I still fantasize about owning one of those fabulous riverside apartments in York and living within strolling distance of that enticing city centre.
I spent two gloriously self-indulgent days there in Spring. Darting between my all-time favourite M&S, the high-end stores and the charity shops. In my defence, I did manage to fit in one museum, The Museum of Chocolate. A wickedly irresistible combination of the educational and the edible. Oh, by the way, for those of you (come on, there must be one or two out there who suffer from the same affliction as me) the Oxfam shop in nearby Harrogate features in the list of top ten charity shops in the whole of the UK. Yes, I promise I’m not making it up; there really is such a list.
On the whole, friends are tolerant of my addiction. We cordially settle on playing a form of shop swop where for every five normal high street stores I’m allowed one charity shop. Husband finds the whole thing mystifying and hides away in the book department. I have to hunt him down proudly bearing trophies such as cashmere sweaters or storm-proof jackets. His grudging approval usually comes with a hissed aside of, “Look, just how much do I have to earn before I can stop getting my clothes from Oxfam?” Which completely misses the point, of course.
Some people’s skin positively crawls at the thought of wearing other folk’s cast-offs. Others find it repulsive rummaging around in what they consider to be nothing more than heaps of saggy, baggy, smelly old junk. And I get that, I really do. But they are missing out on a totally purse-friendly way to give to good causes whilst keeping the bargain hunter (which I think lurks inside most of us) happy, too.
If I haven’t convinced you to go trawling through the trash just yet let me try to entice you by listing a few of my more recent bargains. A classy cream and black M&S bag and a pair of knee length Russell and Bromley brown leather boots for me. A watercolour depicting a summery garden, absolutely perfect for the guest room and a navy oiled wool Shetland style sweater for Husband. All priced at under £7 each. In fact, the lovely painting was an unbelievable £2.99. So yes, it’s quite literally cheap thrills all the way for me, I’m very proud to say.
And don’t forget the bric-a-brac. A Le Creuset casserole dish for £2.99, anyone? I gleefully scooped up a beautiful, huge crystal vase recently. It was nestling amongst the odds and ends and it’s perfect for displaying tall stemmed lilies or chrysanthemums. I swoop on prettily mismatched porcelain cups and saucers too. Give them a whole new lease of life when you next serve afternoon tea. I promise that they will look simply stunning. Cut flowers or small houseplants look lovely displayed in individual porcelain bowls or mugs. And rarely will any of these items cost you more than the price of a cup of coffee.
It is well known that both the Queen and Princess Anne are famously thrifty ladies. In June, Prince Louis wore an outfit to the Trooping of The Colour which 30 years ago had been worn by his Uncle Harry. A titled family I know (not boasting, honest!) has priceless heirlooms floor to ceiling in every room. And an Asda kettle in the kitchen. Whilst I don’t expect to see any of these people in my local charity shop anytime soon, it’s nevertheless heart-warming to know that thrift is a virtue embraced by my social superiors.
But I’m not completely lost to chronic jumblemania. I love a shiny new pair of patent shoes, a swishy summer dress or a smart winter coat as much as the next girl. So please say you’ll come shopping with me. I promise we’ll have lots of fun, lots of chatty coffee breaks and I’ll only beg to look around one or two vintage shops. You can wait outside if you must, but I’d much rather you came in too. Who knows what bargains we might find? But in the meantime, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to rummage around at the village hall ‘Crafty Hands’ sale. Up-cycled furniture is a speciality at this event. As you will have realised by now, if anything gets me all worked up to fever pitch it’s the joy of well… junk.
If you too like value for money, you may well find our other WiseSpend posts useful. JUST CLICK HERE