Mum introduced me to car boot sales and charity shops from a young age, as we would scour our local markets and charity shops within the county of Hertfordshire, in England, UK.
Mum loves to meander through British charity shops today, as much as I love to browse Australia’s many opportunity shops. Same activity, different hemisphere. I thought it would be nice to get an insight into the history of my Mother’s second-hand shopping jaunts, as well as her recent escapes, through British second-hand wonderlands. Herewith, an interview with my Mum, through the wonders of modern technology:
:: Mum and I in the late 90's ::
Erica: When did you start charity shopping, or shopping second hand?
Mum: About 35 years ago!
Erica: Where there as many charity shops 35 years ago, than there are today?
Mum: There are most definitely more charity shops around now, at that time I only looked locally, but I tend to look in every shop I see if I have the time
Erica: Why did you start shopping second-hand?
Mum: Really can't remember, curiosity?
Erica: Do you admit to others that you shop second-hand, or are you embarrassed to say?
Mum: I think it was not something I talked about, back then there was a bit of a stigma about it.
Erica: What about now? Would you say there is still the same stigma when shopping second-hand? Do you admit to your friends now that you buy some things from charity shops?
Mum: Its now completely different, I like to show off even brag about my finds!
Erica: What has been your best ever second-hand purchase?
Mum: A silver Swiss watch that now belongs to our wonderful daughter. (thank you Mum) My recent purchases were a designer suit unworn for £5, and some French Connection items all unworn with originals price tags attached. One thing that some of my friends say, the person before them had grabbed the most amazing things! On saying that, one friend came across 3 Beswick figures dated 1948, that's a real find. One other friend likes old walking sticks; she now has several with silver and ivory handles (these are over 100 years old, as ivory is now illegal). Her gem of a find is an Indian walking cane with a steel sword hidden inside the ornate cane. Another friend found some Burberry items.
Erica: Which is your favourite: antique markets, car boot sales or charity shops?
Mum: Charity shops by far
Erica: Which charity shop/s in particular, are your favourites?
Mum: That’s a tricky question, we have a gift aid card for the cancer research shop (which helps them with tax relief on sales), due to family and friends suffering from cancer, it is important for us to support a cause we believe in. We also are quite passionate about animal rescue so we also donate and shop there. But really, there are so many bargains to be found in many charity shops.
:: Cancer Research - Shrewsbury ::
Erica: I remember you always liked to go to antique shops and markets, were you looking for anything in particular? Do you still shop for antiques now?
Mum: We still go to antique shops, we love old china and old cutlery, there are some seriously good finds out there in silver cutlery!
Erica: What is your favourite fashion era?
Mum: I like both the 50’s and 60’s styles. My mum had some amazing dress if only we had kept them! I also shopped at the first Biba shop in London in the 60’s… the skirts where very short. At that time my legs where good…. I now wear much longer skirts!
Erica: Do you think charity shops have changed over the years?
Mum: I think they are far more organised, colours and sizes etc, also some of their window displays are very clever...... They encourage people to pop in and have a look
Erica: Now that you've visited Australia a few times, how would you compare charity shops vs op shops? Are the prices the same? The quality?
Mum: I think they are very similar in layout, and similar in pricing, but because the UK £ is very weak against the Au $ things can look dearer for UK visitors.
Erica: Anything else you’d like to mention with regard to UK charity shops?
Mum: In the UK we have The British Heart Foundation now selling unwanted furniture, and also white goods. The white goods are all checked before put up for sale. Most of the items sold there are of a very high standard, and it would be easy to completely furnish a house. We have been very impressed with these stores and the prices are incredibly reasonable. We have even found things we didn’t know we needed.. keep up the good work all you charity shops. On a final note some of the stories and welcomes we get from the ladies who volunteer to work in these stores for free is second to none.
I’ll leave you with two more photographs Mum has taken of her local charity shops in Shropshire, so cute, and so very English!
Did your parents, grandparents or relatives introduce you to second-hand shopping too?