By Ellen MacAskill
Forget those connotations of Duke of Edinburgh volunteering schemes and tight-pocketed great aunts and embrace the world of the second-hand shop. Here is why you will not regret it…
CHEAP Need we say more? Macklemore preached it and students concur: thrift is the name of the game when it comes to fashion. Charity shops are the best place for bargain-hunting all year round. Twenty pounds might buy you one reduced shirt in Topshop, but in a charity shop you could buy jeans, a bag and some chipped fake pearls to match, with enough change for a coffee.
THE CHALLENGE Walking into a room full of disordered racks and random sizing systems can make you want to flee back to the neat uniformity of Buchanan Street. But once you get the nose for it, hunting for a gem in the chaos makes your shopping experience all the more rewarding. Rifling past the size twenty knitwear to reveal a never-worn All Saints dress is a moment of sartorial serendipity that cannot be matched.
ETHICAL RETAIL THERAPY Retail guilt often creeps into student life, even when your loan has just come in and you are ‘rewarding yourself’ for that B in your mid-term essay. When you buy from a charity shop this guilt turns into a sense of good-doing. The money you spend is going to worthy causes, not corporate tax-dodging empires.
TEAPOTS and VINYL Go for the clothes, return for the bric-a-brac. Once you have sourced your new favourite cardigan, investigate the back of the shop and discover wonderful tat that you never knew you wanted. It could be a Rick Astley LP that you’re sure will be hilarious at a party, the first edition of a book on your reading list, or an inexplicable kitchen utensil which is bound be useful for something. At 99 pence it would be rude not to.
ORIGINALITY We all strive to be individual and, god forbid, ‘quirky’ when it comes to style. Scour Oxfam and you will never feel like a fashion clone again. No-one else in the pub will have that 1980s French-brand denim jacket, or that so-hideous-it’s-brilliant Christmas jumper.
MARKS & SPENCER Most charity shop items will be between one and twenty years out of date. Marks & Spencer’s Per Una may not look like the height of hipster-dom today, but look at the label of your last charity shop bargain and very often it will be M&S. Based on my humble experience their St Michel brand did some great things in the 90s which have since been donated into the second-hand circuit. Turns out they are not just dusty old clothes… they are M&S dusty old clothes.
GLASGOW’S WEST END Byres Road and the surrounding area is a haven of second-hand treasures. For chic revamped evening-wear try British Red Cross. For organic birthday presents and antique classics, head to Oxfam Books. For a huge selection of clothes and all the furniture you could ever want, head to the Salvation Army on Dumbarton Road. Even if you don’t buy a thing, inspecting the curio in these spots can fill a rainy afternoon next time your mum comes to visit.
Got a favourite charity shop elsewhere? What has been your best charity shop bargain? Tweet us @Scotcampus.