Bath is great for shopping (even Jane Austen thought so) but I prefer the second-hand sort, rather than department stores and overpriced boutiques. As it’s my nearest shopping centre I tend to visit quite a lot and so hope this will be the first of a couple of posts on charity shopping in Bath city centre, and beyond. I recently took a morning off from being a mum and travelled into Bath to explore Walcot Street, Broad Street and Pulteney Bridge/Argyle Street.
Walcot Street is know as the arty bit of Bath and there are lots of independent and artistic shops along the road (as well as some good cafes for a coffee stop, such as Sam’s Kitchen and Made by Ben and not forgetting to stop for a pint at the wonderful Bell Inn).
At the bottom of the road, just beyond Waitrose, is Save the Children which had a very colourful window display:
Be warned that Walcot Street (like much of Bath) is on a hill but there are plenty of second-hand shops to keep you distracted. Further along is the Julian House shop:
Julian House is the local homeless charity and it operates two shops in Bath. I really like the Walcot Street one as it has lots of clothes (including a vintage rail) and a large book department. The other charity shop along Walcot Street is run by the Bath Women’s Refuge. It has been on Walcot Street for quite a few years (certainly the 15 years I’ve lived in and around the city) and is literally piled high with clothes, children’s books and toys and dvds. It is rather a fight to discover things amongst the rails and piles but can offer some great finds:
Although it’s a climb right to the top of the road, Jack & Danny’s is the original Walcot Street vintage shop, well worth the visit. Inside is a treasure trove of men and women’s clothing. You may have to work your way through the racks but there is something for every occasion. Many years ago I picked up an early 1970s halter neck dress for a 60s/70s summer party.
At the other end of the street (and on the level) is another vintage clothing store. The Yellow Shop also sells a range of new labels. A bit farther along from the Yellow Shop is the small Saturday Market which sells some second-hand clothing (not pictured).
Running parallel to Walcot Street is the shorter Broad Street which is really worth a visit. As well as being home to Rossiters Department Store, Cath Kidston and a few high end boutiques it has a couple of second-hand shops. At the moment my favourite shop in Bath is this Dorothy House shop. It has a real vintage feel to it and appears to be aimed at people who are looking specifically for vintage, or designer, clothing. Back in the summer I bought a wonderful playsuit here which became my favourite holiday outfit. While the clothes can be pricier than regular charity shops they are still real bargains compared to the rest of the High Street.
Further along Broad Street is the Black and White Shop. This operates as a dress agency and is packed with some beautiful clothing, accessories and shoes. I recently picked up a slinky evening dress for a friend’s cocktail party for £24.
Almost opposite the Black and White shop is Broad Street car park and if you cut through this you find yourself in a small alleyway that houses Bath’s original vintage store: Vintage to Vogue. Before vintage was a buzzword this shop was selling clothes from bygone eras. About ten years ago I picked up a beautiful matching dress and coat in a delicate duck egg colour. This has been my staple outfit for nearly every wedding and christening since.
The other area I tend to browse in is located in an area just off the bottom of Walcot Street, past Waitrose. While Pulteney Bridge is one of only two bridges in the world that has shops located on it (the other being the Ponte Vecchio in Florence), it is also home to two great charity shops. Well the actual address is Argyle Street and they are just off the other end of Pulteney Bridge. This Dorothy House branch sells more traditional charity shop clothing than the one on Broad Street. I picked up a great red dress from Warehouse earlier this year then proceeded to shrink it (see here).
A couple of shops further along is Oxfam which, again, is of the more traditional style Oxfam shop. (There is also an Oxfam Boutique in Bath city centre which I will blog about in Part Two). I have picked up some bargains in this Oxfam shop and here I think is the reason why Bath is so good for charity shopping: it is an affluent city (although not in every part) and people donate good quality, high-end clothing. While some charity shops have caught onto this and now charge quite expensive prices these are still cheaper than the High Street price. Plus the clothing tends to last for a long time (unless you shrink/iron holes in it!)
While I feel uncomfortable taking ‘selfies’ I did end up buying the blue dress and have had quite a few complements when I’ve worn it out. The Laura Ashley dress was tried on just because I could but, in no way, shape of form, did it suit me!
I hope to have another child-free day soon and explore some more of Bath’s second-hand hotspots so watch this space….