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'Your mum's so poor she buys toilet roll from Oxfam ' - I got that a lot as a kid . When I was young, my dad was in the army, but sadly had to leave after developing a back problem . The family income took a big dip for a couple of years, and my parents prioritised things like good food and fun, which meant clothing and toys had less of a budget.
Still, they did their best. Endlessly rummaging in charity shops, jumble sales and carboots, they would pick something up every so often, and we never went without. Sure, stuff was used, but really you couldn't tell the difference .
Now, I'm older, with a kid of my own, and sometimes I struggle with money . But I want to make sure my daughter has all the clothes, books and toys she needs . Like my parents, I rate a healthy diet and good times more important however .
So, I shop in charity shops. There are plenty nearby, selling decent second hand gear for cheap prices . I also volunteered for a time with the British Heart Foundation . In this review, you're going to get a little of both sides .
Firstly - volunteering in a charity shop is a great experience. I did a few hours each Saturday, working the tills in British Heart Foundation . I did a little product sorting too. Working the till was great for me , generally a pretty shy person, I found myself chatting to the people that came into the shop, recognising regulars, and making friends .
Sorting, I didn't enjoy so much . They were very strict with quality - books couldn't be dog eared, they wouldn't even bother trying to sell ordinary drinking glasses and plates, and they couldn't sell electrical appliances . It broke my heart seeing perfectly servicable items going into the skip at night. I'm not ashamed to say that a couple of times, I went bin raiding, removing books and bagging them up to donate to an old peoples home just a few minutes walk from the shop . I don't think any useful item should be binned, there is always someone who could make use of it .
All those glasses, pans, plates, and cutlery we refused to sell could so easily have been bundled into packs and given to people just starting out in a new home for example .
As regards shopping in charity shops - I love it . Part of the charm is that you never know if you're going to get something good or not . I love reading, and I can always pick up a book for about 50p, not bad considering that many come with a 6.99 cover price. I was overjoyed to find 'Twilight' on sale for £1.20 - I'd been planning on spending my dooyoo miles on it, but saved a good fiver getting it second hand .
I also by clothes from charity shops . There is no getting around (without a long excursion) the fact that I'm a big girl . And, if I were to shop on the highstreet, I would be limited to 'big girl' shops such as Evans.
In charity shops though, I often find something that both fits and suits me, for a very low price . I went to one where they had a 'sale' on. Certain items were priced at £1 for that day only . I spent 20 quid, and came out with a whole new wardrobe. I also find it great for shoes - I recently paid £2.50 for new shoes that still had a £15.00 price tag on the bottom, and 5 quid for a brand new pair of Hush Puppies that would have easily cost me 50 quid in the shops . It is very much pot luck though - sometimes I'll find loads of items I like, other times I won't find anything .
I've also cottoned on to the fact that the more affluent areas have charity shops where you can pick up some really nice designer stuff dirt cheap , so occasionally I'll go a little further afield for my charity shop shopping!
I've purchased items for my daughter from charity shops too, In the last few weeks, I've gotten a lovely warm coat, a ' Ready Steady Cook' ice cream maker, and countless books . In the past, I've also purchased furniture from charity shops . My daughters bed ( a bunk, double on the bottom, single on top) I paid £50 quid for.
I would definitely recommend taking a browse in your local charity shop , you're sure to find something you like, be it a book, a DVD, or a children's toy . You'll save a heck of a lot off retail price, and in these cash strapped times, that's a good thing .
I'd also recommend volunteering - it's fun, it looks good on a CV, and it costs you nothing . Like me, you might feel some frustration when they throw away 'unsaleable' items, but you'd still be helping out .
Remember, everything you spend in a charity shop helps out good causes ! Go shop, now!