It is 12:30pm on a Friday afternoon and I have just discovered that I missed the designer sale on 3 January hosted by Shelter Scotland at their Stockbridge charity shop. My despair is soon replaced by elation when I am told that there is to be a second sale at their Morningside store on Wednesday 10 January.
I decided to book a train ticket down to Edinburgh and pay it a visit! Any train at a sociable hour was extortionate, so, on the premise of having a fabulous day for less, pepped by three coffees and a sandwich, I decided it would be an excellent idea to book the 5:50am train which cost £10 less. The store was due to open its doors at 10am. This left me an hour and a half to attempt to make my way from Haymarket to Morningside, with the likely chance that I will become hopelessly lost at least once.
I have been shopping in charity shops since the age of 18. There are a number of reasons that I prefer to buy so called ‘pre-loved’ or second hand clothes:
Firstly, the cycle of purchasing and donating to charity shops avoids large amounts of waste going to landfill. It is infinitely more environmentally friendly than buying cheap clothes from the high street.
Secondly, I save a lot of money by doing this which leaves funds free for enjoyable past-times or, more recently, to save for a deposit on my first house. For me, I relish the challenge of keeping up appearances without breaking the bank. There is no greater feeling of satisfaction than being one of the best dressed people in the room, knowing that you most likely spent the least amount of money, and that what you did spend went to a very good cause.
My desire to travel to Edinburgh from Aberdeen for this event was spurred by the possibility of picking up a great designer piece, but I also really enjoy the buzz that occasions like this create. It’s a chance to speak to other individuals that view shopping the same way I do, and rather than bragging about how much things cost, taking pleasure in the money that you saved. Fashion blogging has a competitive culture, and many bloggers often end up in serious debt whilst trying to maintain a certain designer standard. I want to show that you can have the best for less, and that you can help others while you spend. Far from being ashamed to admit I shop in charity shops, I shout it from the roof tops. If my clothing ever gets a compliment, I am quick to commend the charity shop from which I bought the item.
The Morningside sale did not disappoint. The volume of press, photographers and journalists was astonishing. I had not been expecting to get ‘papped’ in the street, and let me tell you, if I had, I would have worn something much more exciting than a grey Gap jumper (although, it was bought from a charity shop for £4.69!) The girls working in the unit next door stuck their heads out in order to try and identify the celebrity, as surely nothing else could garner such attention!
The ‘celebrities’ that we had all come to see were the likes of Prada, Versace and Armani. The designer goods for sale had been gathered over the period of around 9 months, the best items being amassed until the great unveiling, in order to add to the excitement and anticipation, Shelter Scotland had covered the windows. As I am not a local, this led to a rather awkward situation whereby I had walked an extra half a mile before I realised that I must have passed the shop. Once I had trudged back up the hill, several people had already gathered, waiting to get in, and it was still only 9:15!
At 10am the paper hiding the windows was pulled down, not that anyone stood outside for long to take in the spectacle! I was informed that the manager and other volunteers had been at the store until 11pm the previous day creating the displays. Flash bulbs erupted as the excited customers poured into the shop. People were being photographed and interviewed whilst browsing which was made all the more entertaining when a bemused old lady, who had simply “popped in” after having her hair done, was surrounded by photographers and journalists. In the end, I think she enjoyed the attention that her shopping trip had brought, but I was led to understand that the same is not true of all shoppers with a volunteer describing one customer’s feedback as ‘frenzied’. Still, it is nice to think that the opening of a sale at a charity shop can create the same sort of furore as a top designer unveiling a collection at H&M.
My fondness for Shelter Scotland goes back to when I returned to Aberdeen after 2 years of living in Inverness. I moved to George Street, and this happens to be the location of a Shelter Scotland charity shop. Always full with exciting items, this was one of the few charity shops to which I could pay a visit with a specific item in mind. Usually with charity shops, you take what you can find, rather than venturing out with something specific in mind. The Shelter Scotland shops have always been, and continue to be, very reasonably priced, usually with a good volume and range of stock. The shops are well presented so that you can browse comfortably, without it feeling overly preened. I don’t like being robbed of the opportunity to rummage!
In the end, I didn’t actually buy a designer item in particular from the sale as I couldn’t find much in my size. However, I purchased a dark green jigsaw skirt for only £5 which will do me nicely for work. Purely by chance I popped into another Shelter store during my meander back to the city centre. I ended up purchasing a pair of Armani jeans for £20, which goes to prove that you don’t necessarily need to wait for an event like this to grab a designer bargain!
This is a guest post from Megan Hine, check out her blog Look Fabulous For Less.