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!

vintage clothing,secondhand shopping, Sue Ryder charity shop

 

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

vintage clothing,secondhand shopping, Sue Ryder charity shop, Laura Ashley vintage

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):

 

Autumnal Colours and a new-look Charity Shop in Bath

Autumnal colours, the second-hand way via secondhandtales.wordpress.com

Yesterday I took myself into Bath: my nearest city and favourite haunt for second-hand goodies. [Note to self: I must update my second-hand shopping in Bath post here, which is now two years old]

I was delighted to see that the Save the Children shop on Walcot Street had received a very impressive update.

Save the Children charity shop, Bath (before the revamp)

Save the Children charity shop, Bath (before the revamp)

The interior was awash with stripped floorboards, wooden crates and clean white spaces. I had the distinct feeling I had walked inside a Fat Face or White Stuff store. Some of their (donated) clothing was even hanging from the beautifully curated rails. Every item was on a wooden hanger and the colour coordination was a feast for the eyes. I felt instantly drawn to the blacks and silvers, with thoughts of dressing for Christmas parties on the cheap.

The shop floor was spacious and the clothing on display was cleverly selected to show a range of high-end stores and good quality high street designs, with just enough on the rails to allow you to browse comfortably.

I spotted a couple of White Stuff skirts but was disappointed that they didn’t fit. At £7 each I didn’t think they were overpriced too. In fact my one final purchase at the store, a Top Shop jumper, only cost me £4.

(second-hand) burnt orange Top Shop jumper, bought from Save the Children charity shop in Bath via secondhandtales.wordpress.com

I happened to stumble upon the Save the Children shop’s opening day and the store seemed constantly busy. When I popped along later in the afternoon to see if I could persuade the White Stuff skirt to fit me, it had gone. The lady in front of me spend £120, although I’m not sure how as the clothing was reasonably priced.

The burnt orange jumper has become an instant favourite and autumnal colours must have been on my mind. I picked up this burgundy M&S top from The Shaw Trust shop on George St for a bargain £2.50.

second-hand burgundy top

I did also pick up two pairs of new tights, in matching orange and plum, but I’m very pleased my second-hand purchases only came to £6.50 (The Flower Fairy book was picked up at the bookstall at our village May Fair here)

charity shop labels via secondhandtales.wordpress.com

I was really impressed with the new-look Save the Children shop, as I know they have struggled in the past to stay open and are still in need of volunteers. I can’t even begin to stress what an important charity this is (working with children in Syria and refugees in the Mediterranean: see here). Their new store now ranks them among the other vintage-style charity shop boutiques that have opened up in Bath (Dorothy House; Julian House’s vintage section), but also marks a divide between those charity shops that can afford the refits and the rest…..

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PS I’ve been thinking of running a regular slot on this blog to share our ‘Thrifty Finds’. Not just second-hand purchases, but also making use of things we already have (food, fabric scraps,old clothes), and when we choose not to buy. Lovely readers, what are your thoughts?

My post from The Thrift: Why I’m still charity shopping in my forties

Last month I wrote a post for the wonderful The-Thrift blog, which promotes shopping at Barnardo’s charity shops.

I wrote about why I’m in my mid-forties and still sourcing my wardrobe from charity shops and other second-hand sources. Here is a (slightly) updated version:

As someone in their mid 40s you would have thought that charity shopping is something I’d grown out of by now. But I guess I have been second-hand shopping for so many decades that my brain is now hardwired to head straight for the thrift stores.  I also love the thrill of a bargain, the individuality of charity shop purchases and the feeling I get from giving to a good cause, such as Barnardo’s. And there’s other reasons as well:

1) It’s something I haven’t grown out of. I first started second-hand shopping in my early teens when charity stores circa 1985 were very different to the ones you see now. Ironically, although these places were frowned upon they were stocked with amazing pieces from the ’50s and ’60s that would now be classed as vintage.

Charity Shop find from early 1990s.

Charity Shop find from early 1990s.

2) It’s my own personal style and no one will have the same outfit as me. I have to confess this was the reason I began charity shopping many years ago. As a student I wanted to look individual. I wanted to wear the shirt, jacket or shorts that no one else had. I guess this is a habit that has stuck with me.

3) It’s cheap. As a teenager of the 1980s I imagined my future self to be some highly driven career woman buying all my clothes from designer shops  – or M&S at least. When I worked full time in my twenties I did buy my work clothes from High Street stores. However since having children and taking on a range of part time and freelance work, I have less of a budget, or indeed a need, for buying first hand workwear. As a result I can stock my casual wardrobe with low price second-hand clothes.

4) It encourages re-use, and donating to good causes. Long before we knew about the three Rs charity shops were there to enable us to buy re-used clothing. I truly believe that by purchasing second-hand we are extending the life of a garment. We are ensuring the resources that are used to make, transport and package it are stretched for just a little longer.  Our hard earned cash is also going back into the charity pot, rather than into the hands of an anonymous corporation.  But in order to keep the cycle going we must remember to donate our unwanted clothing to charity shops too.

donating to charity shops

 

5) ) I’m a ‘bargain hunter’ . This comes down to the fact that I love browsing and getting a good bargain! Last month I bought a brilliant denim shirt dress for a fiver from the British Heart Foundation shop. I’d been coveting a similar one from Fat Face for £45!

£5 denim dress

While I never believe you should dress ‘age appropriate’ there are a few charity shop outfits that I no longer aspire to wear. Browsing through all the great posts from other (younger) The Thrift bloggers I know there are dress lengths and styles that I no longer feel comfortable wearing. However the nineteen year old who used to wear a pair of shorts made from old curtains is still there – she just has to turn the curtains into a below the knee dress now…

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Five of the best ‘second-hand’ style movies

It may have been the first time I watched ‘Pretty in Pink’ that I realised second-hand style was for me. Nearly twenty years later I still class it as one my all time favourite films. And not really for the romance between Andy and Blaine, or the friendship between Andy and Ducky. For me it was Andy’s brilliant thrift store style. From that moment I was hooked on trawling through charity shops (which were very unfashionable in the eighties), forever wanting to be Molly Ringwald.

Since then, other films have played an important part in my personal quest to pursue a second-hand style. This is my Top Five:

5. Frances Ha

Frances Ha: thrift style movie

This Noah Baumbach film came out in 2012  and features Greta Gerwig as the clumsy and quirky eponymous character. She’s a dancer, she lives in New York and – as you would expect – she has great style. Most of her clothes come from thrift stores, including a black bomber jacket and nineties style floral dresses with leggings.  I read an interview with Ms Gerwig who said that nearly all the outfits were bought from second-hand stores or dance clothing shops.

4. Annie Hall

Annie Hall: thrift store style

Unlike many of the films featured here I also love this for its humour, characters and plot. That is, being a Woody Allen creation, there’s something more to it than some of the teenage romance flicks I’ve featured. While it is one of my all time favourite films I can’t remember where Annie Hall sources her clothes from. However her look is unique (although much copied now). I love Diane Keaton’s own personal style but it’s the men’s waistcoats, ties and floppy hats that makes Annie’s style so iconic.

 

3. Happy Go Lucky

happy go lucky

I love Mike Leigh’s work and this 2008 film, starring Sally Hawkins, is wonderful and uplifting. Poppy is a primary school teacher with endless enthusiasm and optimism. Nothing really gets her down. I really like the way all the female friendships are portrayed in this film too. Poppy’s dress sense is quirky and – I suspect – second-hand. She also has a great line in tights. I thoroughly recommend this film for when you’re having a bad day: Poppy’s happy-go-lucky perspective on life is wonderful.

 

2. Desperately Seeking Susan

Desperately Seeking Susan: thrift store style

This film actually features a thrift store scene that is quite pivotal to the plot. Rosanna Arquette’s character, Roberta, acquires the jacket (and stolen earrings) that belonged to the eponymous Susan (played by Madonna). Both female characters have great dress sense (that is after Roberta ditches the mid eighties yuppy look), although I think Madonna/Susan just has the edge. The plot’s pretty thin but to a thirteen year old me it was the clothes I was far more interested in. It also confirmed what a lot of us already knew: Madonna is the ultimate style icon.

 

  1. Pretty in Pink Pretty in Pink: the best second-hand style of all timeAlthough Ducky has fairly cool dress sense, the rest of the male characters are clothed in the awful mid 80s combination of pastels and linen and it’s the women who really stand out with both style and attitude. From the ‘I don’t give a damn’ punkish look of Andy’s friend Jenna, to the amazing dress sense of record store Iona  and of course, Andy’s perfect blend of thrift store finds and home sewing. I love Iona’s wardrobe collection (and oh the disappointment when she turns ‘yuppy’). How I wished that I could have worn even one tenth of Andy’s outfits to school (we had a uniform, although Sixth Form college allowed me to unleash my love of hats, inspired by Andy). I will watch this film again and again, and not really for the plot or the on-off romance. I only have eyes for Molly Ringwald and her dresses!

Charity Shops or Vintage Boutiques?

I wrote here about whether vintage has become an overused word. I believe there has been an increase in the use of this word over the past few years. It now seems to mean something old, precious and – ironically – fashionable. I still don’t know whether to refer to the clothes I wear as Charity Shop Bargains or Vintage Finds!

What I do find interesting is that when applying the word ‘vintage’ to an item the price tag can really rise.

Last month I went shopping for a 1970s inspired outfit for our annual party. I attempted to try on a couple of dresses that were seventies originals (I got the sizing wrong: old style size 12 means modern size 8/10).

vintage shopping for 1970s dress

Once upon a time these dresses would have been piled high on a jumble sale table, or hanging on a rail in a musty charity shop. Now they were on sale for £15 each and positioned in the dedicated vintage section of the local Julian House charity shop in Bath.

I don’t begrudge charity shops making money from older, vintage pieces. I find it sad that I can buy a dress from H&M, Primark and others for less than this price. But as I have written before these clothes are badly made (by garment workers earning a small wage), and will not have the history or care invested in them that older pieces possess.

Over the past few years I’ve noticed a rise in the number of charity shops that have been turned into vintage style stores. As I mentioned the Julian House shop in Bath has a dedicated vintage area, filled with crockery, magazines, suitcases, accessories and clothing.

Vintage Charity Shops: Julian House, Bath

Vintage Charity Shops: Julian House, Bath

We’ve also visited this brilliant ‘Vintage and Retro’ Thames Hospice charity shop in Windsor on a couple of occasions:

The latest addition to these style of shops in Bath is the Dorothy House vintage boutique and cafe, called ’76’ on Bridge Street. The shop is called ’76’ after the year that the hospice charity was founded and, I imagine, is also a nod to the date of some of the period pieces on sale in store.

 

The shop and cafe was opened last year by local resident, Midge Ure. The fact that a celebrated, and much respected, musician is happy to open a charity shop shows how far this sector has risen in popular esteem. The forerunner of this vintage shop was the Dorothy House shop on Broad Street (which has now become the charity’s record and book store). However with the addition of a coffee house ’76’ has taken charity retail therapy to a new level. I personally enjoyed browsing this shop and, as mentioned in this post, picked up a great 1970s style flared jumpsuit for our party. At £12 the price tag was slightly cheaper as well.

Sadly not all these charity to vintage shop transformations have a happy ending. The   Mercy in Action chain of charity shops opened a dedicated vintage store in the Widcombe area of Bath.  But sadly it stopped trading earlier this year (thankfully this charity still has other shops in the city). Perhaps there are so only so many Vintage Charity Boutiques that a city can take.

Jumble Sales Hints and Tips

jumble sale tips

Tomorrow is our school jumble sale.

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

Anyway this is all an excuse to re-post this list of tips from a couple of years ago:

1. Be prepared to queue. There will always be ‘professionals’ who have been waiting for hours before the sale starts. You may not want to wait that long but if you want a bargain be prepared to turn up long before the opening time.

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. 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.

On a final note, having helped with the sorting of the jumble 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!). Oh and if you do volunteer to help remember this is for a common cause and not so you can get first dibs on everything, ie if the charity runs more than one event a year make sure you help out at those too.

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.

(I hope to bag a few bargains on the day so a follow up post may be on its way…)