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I have chosen to NOT buy new, not because of cost (although we are cash strapped at present) but because the world has finite resources and ……

If the world continues the present rate of consumption it will go BANG very soon! We need 3.5 worlds at the mow ( have you seen a couple spare? perhaps one got lost down the back of the sofa, I always find things down there) but we only have ONE!

There is an art to buying in Charity/thrift shops, vintage emporiums and auction houses. And I thought that now is a good a time as any to let you know my hits and tips on getting the best out of them.

charity shop

1, Go with an open mind. Don’t go with a fixed thing your going to shop for, like ‘I want a pair of brown shoes’ they wont be there.

2, I keep a small note book with me at all times, listing what I need, sizes, colours, even colour samples or bits of fabric for matching to.

3, Waft around them regularly, chat to the staff, personally donate good clean bags of stuff.

4, Get to know the Manager/Owners, donate your quality stuff to them personally.

5, Tell the Manager what your looking for. I not only let them know what but the condition I will accept. If you don’t mind replacing a zipper or buttons and don’t mind rummaging through their rag bags you’ll be amazed at whats there! I can get whole bin bags for a donation (as long as the manager is getting more than the rag-man will give)

6, What is the condition.  Don’t be fooled by a crammed or untidy rail of clothes, (I have found designer labels lurking) Try it on, ( vintage stuff needs to be a couple of sizes bigger) and don’t be frightened of getting it altered to fit you. When looking at furniture Sound structure is the important thing here. Then I ask myself Does it fit? Do I like the shape? colour and finish can be changed with fabric and paint but your stuck with the shape and woodworm!

charity furniture

7, NOT ALL CHARITY SHOPS ARE THE SAME. sometimes the character of a manager shines through but mostly the charity itself pitches to a certain type of client. Don’t forget the richer the area they collect from, the better quality the goods (in our town we have a local charity and they have a number of shops in differing parts, each with a different quality. So sometimes it’s worth going to the next town or a different area)

8, Never be disappointed. The stock available is dependent on what’s been donated.

9, Keep an open mind. This time for how you will use it. Bed linen doesn’t have to be used as bed linen. It could be curtains or a throw, hell you could even tear it up and knit with it (But that’s another blog subject)

10, Can you get it home? Do they deliver? is there a cost? that bargain sofa bed  that just needs TLC can turn into a bit of a money pit if delivery is uneconomic or there’s a down poor on the way home and its strapped to the roof of the car.

In the UK many of the major charity shops have cottoned on to the value of stuff. For the best pickings go to independent local and small charities. The money you spend here will not only buy the most but can reap the most benefit to the charity concerned.

But above all take your time and have fun.

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