Tuesday, March 24, 2009

New (to me) threads... and some thoughts on thrift stores

My new purchases (stereo)

One of the reasons why Peebles was such a success on Saturday was the "old fashioned" high street with individual shops, pubs, cafes etc. There are an abundance of charity shops there which may be off putting for some... but not for me... I love the hunt.

Pretty much the first shop I went in to I struck gold - I picked up a pair of super beat up pair of Levi's 501s and a Ralph Lauren polo shirt.

The jeans fit lovely... after I cut them down a few inches... and are broken in nicely. They are quite grimey with a couple of paint marks (well at least I hope its paint) and a bit of wear but they aren't threadbare or ripped.

The RL polo is a vibrant and a rather unusual shade of turquoise. The shirt itself is nearly brand new. It is my first introduction to RL and I have to say the quality is good!

I paid £5.50 and £3 respectively. Bargain.

Afterwards, Olly and I got talking about Charity Shops. Our fear is that with the rise of really cheap shops like Primark... folks wont buy second hand... they wont need to, afterall, because for the same price they can buy new from the trendy cheap shops.

I'm not a snob... but I know I will never find the quality of product in a shop like Primark that I found on Saturday. I don't own a pair of Primark jeans to compare them with the 501s... but I do have one of their polos & it is nice albeit not as nice as the RL.

This is one way the Charity Shops can compete - the provision of quality items. This is, however, wholly dependent on the generousity of the public. This could be problematic for these shops. What will happen when the cheap clothes get handed in... will anyone in their right minds buy a tee or jeans second hand for the same price as they could brand new? I really doubt it.

However, in addition to quality... where the Charity Shops can really compete is through the intangible value of surprise. I am never surprised in Primark... but I am more often than not surprised in a Charity Shop. I never expected to find a sweetly worn in pair of 501s or a great condition RL polo... to be honest I wasn't even looking too hard. Same thing goes for the time I found a fab pair of Levi's carpenter jeans a while back... or the North Face jacket... or the majority of the No1 Ladies Detective Agency book series.

I think thats whats missing on the High Street... if such a place still exists? Surprise. I know what I'll find in ASDA or M&S or Topman... well maybe not Topman... but you know what I mean.

This is where small independent retailers and Charity Shops can compete with the monoliths - quality items that surprise the consumer... and give back in some way.

Maybe, as consumers, if we demanded more quality and sought to be surprised more often then things may start to change. Who knows?

At the end of the day... I like my new threads.


Liam said...

Some great thoughts!

I came across a quote a while back,
"I pity the man who wants a coat so cheap that the man or woman who produces the cloth will starve in the process." -- Benjamin Harrison

What we don't stop to ask at shops that sell new products for cheap is how were they produced and by whom? Slave labour and sweatshops are a byproduct of an industry that is forced to offer cheaper and cheaper clothing to 'budget conscious' consumers.

There is also a good argument for op shops as a site for recycling, reducing wastage of clothes and other items. It is great to find a quality item in an op shop, better still to know that it has been saved from the tip.


Angus Mathie said...

Just to say that I agree with both of you. Well said!

Heather's place said...

I'm a recent convert to charity shop shopping. To be honest I was fed up of watching my sisters-in-law finding finding designer stuff at bargain prices - so decided to get in on the act.

We have nine charity shops in our little market town (two of them books only).

On a Saturday morning we love to wander from shop to shop - me searching for clothes - Kev for books.

Cancer research is the best bet - we have two in town. Shops smell lovely, they tend to have fewer clothes but great quality stuff well laid out.

I used to buy a lot in the cheap shops (ASDA etc) but now I prefer the pleasure of charity shop shopping.

I won't shop in Primark but if I foudn the right thing I would buy it second-hand - probably for not much more than it cost new.

I like not knowing what I'll find - although a few times I gone looking for something specific and found it. Like a fab wool coat.

I like having something new to wear most weeks for less than £10.

Now if only they'd serve coffee and do late night shopping...


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