Freelance writer and poet from London; if you would like to read my poetry, please check out my book, 'Poems on the Page', available from goo.gl/Ta4oAX.
Published January 23rd 2014
Drop in for Shopping and Lunch
With charity shops one would usually think that they can only be as good as the things people donate to them, but this is not completely true. Although the quality of stock is of course important, there are several other factors involved as well.
The staff is a good example. In many charity shops at home, the staff are either hiding in the back room, muddling over the till, taking ages to wrap up purchases, or trying to look busy rearranging the shop floor. There's no time for lots of pleasantries and small talk.
Then there is the layout. You know the saying 'never judge a book by its cover,' but if a shop window does not look appealing to walk into, then people won't walk into it (the shop, not the window). If things are not well arranged inside then people can't be bothered to sift through a load of junk in hopes of a bargain.
Recently I have wondered if I might have dried up my local charity shops, as I rarely find anything there now. But this last weekend I was in Ulverston, and found some fantastic charity shops just waiting to be explored. Part of their quirkiness comes from the buildings themselves; the old architecture is full of interesting shapes, allow the shops to get creative with layout.
I didn't get to look in all of the shops because some had close up for the evening by the time I got there, but there were four marvellous place I have to share with you.
Age Concern Theatre Street, Ulverston, Cumbria, LA12 7AQ
Tearoom in Age Concern Charity Shop
Age concern is run by two very friendly ladies who greeted my mum and I as we walked in; they chatted to us as if we were old friends, making us immediately feel welcome.
Age concern is divided into three sections. In the front of house is the clothes, handbags, fabrics, and other accessories, while in the back room you will find all the bric - a - brac. If you are a student starting out in a new home, or simply had and accident with the tupperware, this is an excellent place to stock up on glasses and crockery. They had a beautiful four-set piece of stoneware plates for 50p each, and any number of gardening books that Mum wished she could carry home with her.
In between these two shopping areas is a lovely tearoom for the over 55s, where you can socialise by a warm fire over a cuppa and piece of cake. It is clear that community is very important in this charity shop, an you actually get to see some of the aims and results that donations achieve.
Covering two levels, Oxfam is bigger than your standard charity shop. On the first level is all the clothing, and a few gift items, while in the basement you can browse through all the books, CDs, DVDs, and board games. Pictures also hang from the walls. There as a two-piece set of large Winnie The Pooh prints for £4 and a beautiful scenic landscape of a bridge for £2.99, which matched well with a panoramic photo book of the Lake District.
King Street, Ulverston, Cumbria, LA12 7DY
When I went into Cancer Research they had a half price sale on everything, meaning there were some real bargains to be had. Sitting in the shop window was a thirty-nine piece china set reduced to £20 and on the clothes rack I was astonished to see a row of size six and eight tops. Although there is no dressing room to try things on, £5 for three shirts was well worth the risk (it all worked out happily ever after; everything fit like a dream).
Enter Animal Welfare charity shop and you will not only find second hand goods for sale, but pets too. On a billboard there are pinups of dogs and cats looking for new homes.
They have a quality selection of bric-a-brac, including collectable pates, tea sets, and other nic-nacs There are also racks of coats, and if you ever find yourself in need of a hat, this is the place to go. Boxes of them. Children can also enjoy a good range of toys, books, videos, and jigsaws.