I dare you.
I dare you to say you never been to a charity shop. I know you’d love to regret your student years, but you can’t seem to get yourself to lie and say “no, I’ve never been to a shitty charity shop in my life”. And I dare you again. I dare you to say you haven’t loved it to bits.
I know I know I know some of you will pull up their little noses and say “yeah no, I have been once, but I hated it. I’m more of a Bond Street kind of girl, you know”. If you lean more to the latter, I feel for your little soul: Charity shops are unanimously the best places to find all the shit you never knew you wanted. I’m not mentioning car-boot sales, but believe you me that’s another long and fulfilling story of success.
Before I commence my uplifting ode to charity shopping, I feel I need to remind you that I started out as a south London bitch, and as every south London bitch that deserves such nomenclature, I am mostly familiar with charity outlets within the realm of SW. I can’t even begin to describe the never-ending thrill that comes with finding a pair of Maison Martin Margiela trousers in the 1£ pile, and this is the reason why (as any keen charity shopper) I will not in a million years disclose either the name or location of such thrifty paradises: These are for me to know and for you to find out. No shit. You won’t move me so stop begging. I will, however tell you that these are all stories of success and if you are as a charity-holic as I am, you shall surely come across these hollow grounds during your shopping pilgrimages.
It appears I have mostly been writing lists as of late, and I feel it won’t do anyone any harm to list the three most important suggestions for you, you charity shopper of a you.
1) Don’t faint
Yes my dear, what you just found in the pile of 1£ garbage is an actual Lanvin shirt. It is at this very moment where the hunt really gets hot, in the precise moment when you stop being a normal shopper and you transform body and soul into the ultimate stealth sniper. No one has to see you handing an item of such value, you do NOT want the owner to question his or her brisk decision of throwing such delicate item of fashion in the 1£ pile of shit, stashed alongside worn out high-street.
No sir. Or what about that girl over there? She is looking your way, isn’t she? Maybe she will try to snatch your treasure from your trembling hands while you’re still in the total awe of your very own luck. Maybe she will beat you up and leave you for dead on the shop floor, as she’ll run away with the Lanvin shirt that has briefly been yours? Now you better chill the fuck out. All of what is listed above will never happen because A) You’re somewhere in the far, long forgotten south; The only covetable brand that people know here doesn’t go much further than L.K Bennett. And B) It really is highly unlikely that the girl will actually beat you up, you found the shirt and now it’s yours. As I mentioned, however, try not to make the owner regret he sold you such fabulous fashion at such low price. This would involve charity and moral, and unfortunately you are naturally equipped with neither of the two.
2) Never share a charity shop
Let’s imagine you have a friend named Marjorie. Say hello to Marjorie. Hi Marjorie.
Now, let’s also imagine that you know of a fantastic treasure trove of a Charity shop, where the Miyake is flowing and the Prada is caliente. And let’s imagine that half of your wardrobe has proudly been sourced from there, and you look fucking fantastic because of it. Let’s also imagine, if it pleases you, that the octogenarian rococo statuette that volunteers there knows you and calls you by your first name. Lovely. You know where I’m going with this, don’t you? Yes, you got it: Marjorie. That trifling witch.
Say one night you and Marjorie darling are out and about, maybe you’ve had a sip too much of Kir Royale and when Marjorie asks you where is your (fucking amazing) jacket from, you spill the entire fuck out: “It is from THIS charity shop you know? The one on THIS street. I paid THIS price for THIS jacket. Cool you know?” You must be happy, you piece of shit. It’s all over. Say Good-Bye to cheap deals. Sayonara, amigos.
From this moment onward, that piece of shit Marjorie will be camping outside what used to be YOUR shop every motherfucking day. Oooo you must be a happy bitch. From this moment onward, the shop will suddenly be in permanent shortage of all the little Margielas and Dolce that used to make you so happy. Also, what once used to be a long-lasting friendship with Marjorie will deteriorate at vertiginous speed. You’ll see. Trifling witch, I say.
And this, all of this, is why you NEVER EVER share a charity shop with no other hoe but yourself. I’m sorry for all the swearing, but it does hurt my pride to admit I have been through that in first person, and I am still shattered in pieces because of it.
3) You will never pay less than 2 quid for a latte in London
This last, precious advice is for the ones of you who are a bit more, how can I say this, thrifty.
You walk into the shop and you have a look around, the same way you do every single day. You flick through the rails and there it is, a Balenciaga jumper in pristine conditions. It’s 9 pounds, and you think: “Do I really need this? It’s lovely, but it’s still 9 pounds, mmhhh, it’s a bit expensive I can’t really afford it”. Let’s pretend you’ll pass on it. You say you will think about it, maybe after you bought yourself a lovely cup of coffee from any of the high-street coffee shops on the other side of the road. So you do, you’ll go and have a coffee and, what’s that? A Muffin? Nice, I’ll have that as well. At the check out you pay your bill of 6 pounds and don’t even blink an eye. Three quids more and you could have got yourself a Balenciaga jumper, you idiot. You know what I’m saying? Let’s say, let’s pretend you won’t buy the jumper, as you almost finished all your pocket money and wolfed down your muffin (“mmhh, yum, only 560 calories, yum”)
The thought of this jumper will now haunt you forever. No jokes.
In the morning, some days after, when you’ll get ready, even if you think you look pretty decent, deep inside you know that there is something that really would make your outfit a real winner.
Yes my friend. The Balenciaga jumper you left in the shop. The coffee you’ve had it’s long forgotten, but the thought of that perfect, almost pristine conditions jumper will stay with you for pretty much ever. So you better be ready for a miserable life, led in regret.
This is nothing but an example of what happens when you find something that convincingly looks like a bargain, but you decide against it: The moral of the story is that if you like it and you can afford it, just buy it. Also, may I say, it’s a bloody charity shop! It’s charity for God’s sake!
By Matteo Sarti
Originally published on Lujon Issue 1