Monday, 26 October 2009

The Magic Bus (or adventures in charity shop tourism)

Today's the day for an adventure in charity shop tourism!

One of the best things about charity shops is exploring them when you're out of your neighbourhood. Any provincial town in Britain has a charity shop, which doubles as a curious museum of the mundane. My friends and I plan trips together, motivated by thrifting, and other than the odd punch-up over a vintage tea towel, we have a great time. We feel we've really seen Mumbai, Worcester, Boston, Paris, Leeds and Trieste, and are boosted by our amazing finds in these places.

Never miss an opportunity. If you're in uncharted territory and spot a charity shop, boot sale or church fete, try not to screech to a halt, and don't panic and then have an argument with your boyfriend about driving while circumnavigating the one-way system to find a parking space.

"Chazzing" is when the gang piles into Gilbert our trusty VW camper van for a day trip to discover charity shops. Stopping for lunch in Wetherspoons is an essential part of the day.

Tips for Chazzing:
  • Give up on uninspiring charity shops quickly, or your eyes will cross and you'll start to seriously consider that 2002 Next sequined cardi.
  • The whole browsing thing should be peaceful and relaxed, you in your own bubble.
  • Take a tote bag as some shops charge for bags (and quite right too!).
  • The more packed with stuff a shop is, the more likely you are to uncover a gem; the less packed the easier to see if there aren't any.
  • If you're not quite sure and it's cheap, then buy it. It's for a good cause. Keep a bag at home to fill with your discarded buys ready to donate back to another charity shop.
  • Make the snooty lady behind the till smile by putting your change in the collection tin on the counter.
  • Things that look bizarre and unflattering on the hanger may be well-designed and genius on.


  1. fantastic post,
    your blog is inspiring.

  2. Your first point is so, so right. I've got lots of things hanging in my wardrobe that I bought out of desperation after an uninspiring day.

    Did you find something fabulous in Leeds? Tell me where! I wonder if it was there you got stuck in the one way system (a nightmare even for the born and bred!)

  3. It's been a couple of years since I was last in Leeds but spent every other weekend in the late -80's there! Absolutely loved the place, especially Hyde Park and Headingley (where my best mate had student lodgings). Used to frequent a great Oxfam in the city centre and I recall a vintage clothes shop in Hyde Park where I've still got some fab lucite 1960's rings! XXX

  4. love the boots!! gotta admit, all the charity shops around here are seriously uninspiring!!

  5. I was planning a chazza trip to Shrewsbury on friday! Maybe we'll do Brum's rag market instead - always a good day out.

  6. I used to live in Headingley - fab place. The city centre Oxfam is still there but there are rarely bargains to be found. There are loads of cute vintage shops in Hyde Park and Headingley these days... oh I do love living here! :)

  7. *jealousy*
    i'm definitely going to plan a charity-shop based trip with all my holiday entitlement, and try some new places..


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Lots of love, Vix