Second-hand shopping in Chippenham

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While I spend quite a lot of time browsing the second hand shops in Bath, I’m also known to do some charity shopping in the market town of Chippenham. This Wiltshire town is only eight miles from where I live and, unlike Bath, has a lot of those useful cheaper shops such as Wilkinsons and a large Poundland – as well as a good range of charity shops.

At one end of the High Street (closer to the train station) is a small grouping of four charity shops.

Dorothy House and Age UK are located next to each other. The Dorothy House has a good selection of toys and games, and is well worth browsing for clothes. At the neighbouring Age UK I have picked up a couple of good items: a vintage black dress, and a women’s navy suit (for a Margaret Thatcher outfit!)

Vintage dress from Age UK

Across the road from these shops is the RSPCA. Earlier in the year it was damaged by fire. It’s good to see it back in place on the High Street. This is a welcoming store with lots of space and a big selection of homeware. The prices are very reasonable as well, and you can pick up some good vintage clothing (as below)

 

Further along is the Oxfam shop. Oxfam shops never disappoint. They always have a good selection of clothes and homeware and, in most cases, a large dedicated book section. This Oxfam also has a bridal department downstairs.

The rest of Chippenham’s charity shops are located in the pedestrianised part of the High Street. British Heart Foundation is centrally located. Although it is quite small it has a large selection of clothing.

Further along is the Blue Cross shop, which sells vinyl as well as clothing, toys, books and homeware.

My personal favourite, though, is the Julian House charity shop which opened a couple of years ago. Julian House is the Bath based charity which works with excluded people; one of the projects it runs is a homeless hostel in Bath (see also Chippenham’s Doorway Project which works with homeless and vulnerable people).

The curved window of the Julian House shop is very eye catching:

Inside the clothes and accessories are laid out with lots of space between them:

It also has a great vinyl selection:

I recently picked up my favourite Henry Holland dress from this shop and, although not as cheap as other charity shops, its clothing section is well worth a browse.

Beyond Julian House is the Red Cross Shop. In the past I’ve picked up some great LPs from here.

Not pictured, and located beyond the High Street, is Magpie Vintage: a second-hand shop selling vintage clothing, homeware and, upstairs, a dedicated music department.

And beyond that is Chippenham’s other record shop, Scratch the Surface, which sells new and old vinyl.

Finally I can’t talk about charity shopping in Chippenham without mentioning the dedicated second hand furniture and electrical stores. Dorothy House and  British Heart Foundation  are located in the centre of Chippenham. The furniture store Waste Not Want Not is on the outskirts. In the past we have donated, and bought from, all three of these stores.

Below are some of our purchases incl: ice cream maker, bread maker, vacuum, sofa, keyboard and vacuum cleaner 🙂

 

 

Second-hand shopping in Bristol (Park Street)

I realise it’s been ages since I last posted a Second-hand shopping in.. post, but a recent trip to Park Street, in the centre of Bristol, inspired me to add to the series.

I don’t profess to be an expert in all the locations for second-hand shopping in Bristol, but the centrally located Park Street is a good starting point.

Park Street extends from Bristol Cathedral and College Green uphill towards the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery (free entry and well worth a look). Being Bristol, there is also a Banksy located half way up the street.

Park Street is bustling with lots of coffee shops, cafes and a smattering of art galleries. Although selling first-hand items, The Guild, is well worth a look at for homewares and gifts.

But it’s the second-hand shops that really catch my eye.

Just parallel to Park St, located on Queens Road, is the Cancer Research Shop which is worth a browse.

The two stand out charity shops on Park Street, though, are the Oxfam Bookshop and Sue Ryder shop.

Second hand books, Oxfam

The Oxfam Bookshop (officially on Queen’s Road) is two floors of paperbacks, hardbacks, specialist texts, vinyl and more. It is a book-lover’s paradise and I could easily spend a few hours browsing here! For second-hand bibliophiles there is another Oxfam Bookshop,located  just over a mile away in Clifton.

Further down Park Street, The Sue Ryder shop is crammed with vintage goodies! There is a dedicated retro clothing rail that seems to go on for ever… For an over-organised person like myself I love that it is colour coordinated too!

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I spotted this Laura Ashley dress on the rail; made in Wales, which automatically dates it to pre 2005 (see this post here)

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The shop also sells a good range of second-hand vinyl, which can be a little pricey. It also has a wonderful curved shop front which I love!

Sue Ryder, charity shop, shop window, Bristol

Beyond the charity shops, Park Street is also famed for its vintage clothing shops.

Squashed between two bigger stores, the diminutive Uncle Sam’s American Vintage is overflowing with secondhand clothing, imported from the US. It is also Bristol’s longest established vintage store, specialising in outfits from the 1940s to 1980s. Unlike many secondhand clothing stores, it also has a good selection of menswear.

 

Another Park Street favourite, Sobeys also has branches in Exeter and Cardiff. I do like this store but, for me, it’s a little too young. Everytime I step inside they seem to be playing Duran Duran (which I love as an old school Duranie!) but the 80s and 90s themed stock tends to remind me of what I used to wear at the time. Being slightly more mature, ‘vintage’ for me harks back to earlier eras. But they do have an excellent range of dungarees and, once more, cater for male customers too. Similarly, BS8 (not pictured) is a vintage store that caters for a younger market but certainly worth a browse.

If you’re new to Bristol then Park Street is a great place to start your second-hand quest. Other areas such as trendy Stokes Croft and upmarket Clifton are great locations to browse in too, and miles away from the mainstream, High Street stores of Cabot Circus and the out of town mall at Cribbs Causeway.

Jumble Sales Hints and Tips

 

Jumble Sale sign

Tomorrow is our school jumble sale and I thought I would re-post this piece I wrote last year offering some hints and tips. Having experienced the other side of selling at the jumble sale last year I can say that you do need sharp elbows. But if you turn up a little later and avoid the ‘professionals’ you can still bag yourself a bargain. At  the end of the sale last year we reduced/gave away items for free as we didn’t want to be left with them. But before you start to haggle too much at your local jumble sale just remember this is a fundraising event for a good cause….

 

jumble sale tips

 

For some people this word fills them with dread. The thought of queuing in the cold and then elbowing each other to sift through a pile of old clothes makes them shudder.

For me, though, some of the best and unique outfits I have ever picked up have been from old church and village hall sales in my youth. In fact some of the vintage items I blogged about here came from our church jumble sale when I was a teenager (the  Blanes dress is now worth  $130-£180 and I probably only bought it for 10p!)

1950s summer dress

Here are my Top Tips:

1. Be prepared to queue and, once inside, there will be some jostling and  you may need to be forceful if you want to get to the front of a table.

2. The trick at a jumble sale is to not care about tossing clothes around. That original seventies dress might just be at the bottom of a pile of old t-shirts. By the time the sale ends, clothing will have transferred from one pile to another so you may find women’s jumpers side by side with children’s trousers.

3.  Another useful tip is to make sure you bring plenty of loose change and lots of  carrier bags. It helps the organisers and saves time so you can focus on the next pile of clothes, books or bric a brac.

4. While you may feel you want to haggle about prices do remember these events are being held to raise money for good causes. The joy of jumble sales is how cheap everything is anyway without having to negotiate a price reduction.

5. Why not consider volunteering at your local jumble sale? From personal experience it takes a lot of (wo)man power to collect and sort through jumble (not always a pleasant job: see below). One of the ‘perks’ of helping is to get a look at all the donated stuff before it goes on sale. But if you are going to volunteer your services why not make it more permanent and help out at some of the charity’s other events too?

On a final note,  please do bear in mind when you donate to a local sale that items still have to be in a fairly okayish state (ie don’t give them that mouldy box in the corner of your garage that is filled with broken items and soggy old magazines!).

To find out when and where local jumble sales are taking place try looking at your local newspapers (in print and online) and other local listings websites.

Last year’s jumble sale haul (the orange scarf was one of my best buys from last year):

 

Return to some Royal shopping…

Last Christmas we caught up with family in the fittingly Royal town of Windsor. While there we came across a fantastic vintage charity shop, run by Thames Hospice. Its Retro and Vintage Shop in the city centre is one of those cleverly presented spaces that feels part boutique and part time travelling machine.

This Christmas we returned for a brief stop (well okay I spent an hour in the shop) to reacquaint ourselves with its sixties/seventies vibe.

There were some great Margot Leadbetter style evening dresses from the early seventies.

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I also tried on a pair of punk-inspired tartan trousers (which were way too small!). There were china tea sets from the 1950s, household appliances from the sixties and a few pieces of vinyl from the 1980s. Alas, having tried on at least five outfits, I came away with just a yellow necklace and red and blue scarf. The latter makes me think of a 1970s British Airways air hostess and I’m hoping to use it as I change some of the clothing for my latest installment of Project 333.

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I really do love the Retro & Vintage Shop. It’s one of those clever boutique shops that more charities seem to be cultivating (in Bath I can think of the Dorothy House shop on Broad Street and the vintage section at the back of the Julian House shop on Walcot Street). If you’re ever in the Windsor area I really recommend paying it a visit on Peascod Street. You never know, there may even have a been a few Royal donations….

 

Second-Hand Shopping in Bath (Part Two)

As promised – a while ago – here is the (shorter) Part Two of shopping in Bath.

This week, now that the children are back at school, I took myself off to Bath. I shouldn’t have bought anything but I seemed to come home with a couple of new (to me) purchases.

The first item I bought was from the Dorothy House shop on Argyle Street (previously posted about here).  A few months ago I bought a gorgeous burgundy sleeveless dress from this shop and then proceeded to shrink it as I hadn’t read the label! Well I encountered another burgundy coloured pinafore dress (originally from Next) and found myself buying it. This time I’m going to check the label!

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On this tour of Bath I headed towards Milsom Street (Bath’s central shopping street, north of the new Southgate Shopping Centre and home of Jollys department store and a few more upmarket boutiques). At the top of Milsom Street it joins George Street. On the left hand side of this street are two charity shop gems.

The first is the Shaw Trust shop. This charity helps people with disabilities enter the world of work. It has  shops throughout England and Wales and even has its own ebay shop. It also has a small range of garden shops (my nearest one is in Trowbridge where I’ve picked up plants at good prices). The Shaw Trust shop in Bath used to have a vintage rail, long before other local charity shops created their own vintage areas. In the past I have picked up very reasonably priced trousers by Donna Karan and Ralph Lauren from here. Alas, the vintage rail is no longer here and I’m not so sure that the wealthy of Bath are donating to this store as much. In fact the window display highlighted the need for donations: a theme that was echoed in many of the other charity shops I visited, as well as vacancies for volunteer help.

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On this week’s visit to the shop I had one of those Shopping Moments where a) you see something that screams to you ‘buy me’, b) you try it on, it fits perfectly and – despite the price and all sense – you buy it. In this case, even though I wasn’t looking for one, I came home with a brand new orange swing coat (originally from Sainsburys Tu range). Even the thought of wearing it with the new burgundy pinafore makes me smile…

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After I’d given myself a good talking to about not buying stuff I don’t need  (even if it is second-hand) I popped next door to the Oxfam Boutique,  located on the corner of George Street and Gay Street. This Oxfam store transformed into a Boutique a few years ago, showcasing high-end, good quality clothing and, at one time, one-off recycled designs created by local fashion students. There are Oxfam Boutiques in half a dozen locations around the country and it seems to fit in perfectly with Bath. The interior of the shop, with its ample space and Georgian features, make browsing a pleasant experience. I have yet to find something that I really like – or can afford – here but it’s always worth a look.

One more high end second-hand shop in Bath that is worth mentioning is downhill from Gay Street.  Just off Queen Square and down the quaint cobbled street that is Queen Street is Scarlet Vintage. This second-hand clothing shop buys and sells some beautiful clothes. The prices are out of my range but it is a gorgeous shop and in such a lovely setting.

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Back on the main shopping route is Westgate Street, home to the last two charity shops I want to mention. The Cancer Research Shop has a good selection of clothing, some bric a brac and a small book and record section. Having recently acquired a record player I’m on the lookout for second-hand vinyl.

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Across the road is the PDSA shop, a smaller charity shop that is worth stopping by.

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The one shop that I havent featured in the second part of this store is the only charity shop that is located close by the new Southgate shopping Centre in Bath. The Oxfam Book Shop is a treasure trove of second hand books, including rare editions, and vinyl. As I begin my search for second-hand LPs I am sure I will be posting more on this shop and similar ones in Bath in the future.

Apologies if there are any other second-hand city-centre shops that I have missed. If you do get the chance to explore other areas of Bath I would highly recommend Widcombe (just south of the river and a short walk from the Railway Station: there are a couple of second-hand clothing shops here), Larkhall (a thriving area to the east of the city with some great independent stores and the Mercy in Action charity shop) and Moorland Road/Oldfield Park to the south (home to a couple of charity shops).

Well that has exhausted the shoe leather – hope this guide (and the first part) are of interest but do let me know if there are any other gems I have missed.

A trip down memory lane: Second-hand shopping in Birmingham

Last week my husband and I went on a ‘mini break’ to Birmingham. Well he had to work but I used it as an excuse to take a trip down memory lane and try to reacquaint myself with the city I knew twenty years ago. A lot has changed since I studied in Birmingham in the early nineties and there were quite a few times on my trip when I completely lost my bearings. I guess Brum isn’t any different to any city centre that has undergone a massive transformation over the past 15 years. From having lived in the area for a long time I know both Bath and Bristol have altered dramatically. It’s just that having not been to Birmingham for so long I felt like a time traveller stepping out of my nineties cocoon. For example the new library is an amazing space. Opening in September it has been built by Bath-based Buro Happold and, for anyone stepping out of their Wellsian time machine, it is an awesome sight:

The new library of Birmingham

The new library of Birmingham

But aside from the 21st century architectural wonders and shiny new high street stores I actually wanted to explore the more outdated side of Brum. With this in mind I headed towards the Oasis store on Corporation Street. This is definitely not the chain store but a more underground (literally) and alternative fashion  store. Having frequented this shop on many an occasion as a student I felt rather awkward as a 40-something woman browsing the independent clothing boutiques selling both first-hand and second-hand clothing, as well as music, posters and a smattering of New Age clothing and incense (that bit hasn’t changed).

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Next door used to be the huge Virgin Records store where I would often hang out. How times have changed as it’s now a British Heart Foundation  furniture and electrical shop:

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I was pleased to see, though, that other places hadn’t changed. Beyond the stunning exterior of Selfridges and the new-look Bull Ring there is the Birmingham Rag Market. Oh happy days! I really don’t think this indoor market has changed since 1990 except that I remember there were more second-hand stalls then. I still have the beautiful white lace blouse I bought in my first year at Uni, which I then went onto wear for my graduation. It is very delicate but still wearable (although not for me as my body has changed from the 18 year old it once was. Just another outfit to save for my girls…)

Oh beautiful lace blouse, I'd forgotten how beautiful you are

Oh lace blouse, I’d forgotten how beautiful you are

There are some great haberdashery stalls both inside and and outside the market and I did pick up some festive ribbon for Christmas presents for a very cheap rate.

Beyond the Bull Ring is an area of central Birmingham that has not changed or, it appears, been given the beauty treatment. Digbeth, however, is home to some great vintage stores which I wish had been around in my student days. First off is Cow. Inside the warehouse-style building are rails of second-hand clothing and accessories. The Birmingham branch is just one of four stores and I enjoyed browsing the rails. At the moment I am searching for some denim dungarees to wear to our annual 80’s themed party at New Year. While I couldn’t find any there was enough denim and plaid in the store to remind me of my Grunge days (!)

Just beyond Cow is the Custard Factory, an arts and shopping complex located in the old Bird’s factory. There are a couple of vintage stores here (one was closed) plus a vintage hairdressers which (frustratingly) I couldn’t find an entrance to. I did, however, stumble across Urban Village, a shop specialising in 60s and 70s clothing. From what I could see on the rails some items were original and others were copies. There was a definited Mod vibe to this shop and I wish I had had the guts to ask to take the photo of two young women dressed in 40s/50s clothing who looked so at home in the setting.

While this is only a smattering of second-hand shopping in Birmingham it was enough to satisfy my feeling of nostalgia. It also made me realise that what I look for in second-hand shops nowadays is rather different to what I sought out twenty years ago. Although I think as many of my clothes are from charity shops now as they were in the 90s (some I’m still wearing), the hemlines are definitely longer.

Second-Hand Shopping in Bath (Part One)

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:

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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:

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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:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA 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.

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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).

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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.

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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).

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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….