Charity Shops – Caveat Emptor

Posted By on 27th November 2017

In the beginning I have to confess I was a bit of a snob when it came to Charity Shops. I was the same with the new breed of cut price supermarkets, but I’m pleased to say I’ve now seen the light on both counts.

At one time I thought I couldn’t live without M&S but now I wonder how I ever got by without Aldi! Incidentally, I’m pleased to see young Kevin the carrot has returned in their Xmas advert. He’s even got a girlfriend this year.

Regular readers will know he was my favourite last year, but I do fear they may be in danger of falling into what you might call the ‘meerkat’ trap. The first advert in that campaign was brilliant but has now become so ‘mainstream’ you can’t move for meerkats on ITV which has diluted the brand.

Just you wait. The next thing you know they’ll be launching a ‘Kevin the Carrot’ cuddly toy. Or am I over thinking the whole thing?!!

However I digress.

It was about 15 years ago that I stopped being a Charity Shop snob.

The secret is, keep an open mind. If you go looking for a specific item you won’t find it, but you might just find something wonderful and unexpected. For example they’re a good place to pick up jig-saw puzzles, indeed some of my best and favourite have come from charity shops.

Yes, you run the risk of the odd piece being missing, in fact in the case of my ‘Green man’ all the straight edges had gone absent, but I still love it. The prices are good too.

That also applies to the clothes. If the price tag is more than £3.99 I put it back! Does that make me a bad person? Or am I just tight? I prefer to think of myself as ‘careful’, thanks to my Yorkshire heritage, though in my defence I did spend £7 on a beautiful fucsia pink leather jacket some years ago!

The truth is you can get some amazing bargains. I once got an M&S T-shirt, brand new, with labels and tags, for just £1. Now you can’t tell me that isn’t a good buy, but you have to be prepared to walk out empty handed on many occasions.

However ‘Caveat Emptor’. For those who didn’t pay attention in Mr Connell’s Latin classes that means ‘Buyer Beware’, but I doubt this is going where you think it is.

In August we were in Skegness and did our usual tour of the charity shops. I selected 3 pairs of jeans/trousers in one particular shop, but needed to try them on. I’d bought something there before and although there wasn’t a regular changing room, I’d been shown into a sort of stairwell, away from prying eyes.

So I asked the grey haired man behind the counter if I could try the jeans on. I was surprised when he said that was not possible. I must have looked a bit shocked because he then said that if I really needed to try them on I could use the stock room and motioned to a door at the far end of the shop marked ‘Private Staff Only’.

In I went, giving Peter instructions to guard the door. It was a small, cluttered little room with every wall and surface, including the floor, covered with ‘stuff’, there was hardly room to stand up, let alone get changed 3 times.

And so I began the rather tricky task of trying on the jeans. It was going reasonably well when suddenly the door opened and there was the grey haired man from behind the till. I don’t know who was more surprised, him or me.

I can’t remember my exact state of undress, but I fear I probably had one leg in and the other one out, struggling as it was to find it’s way down an unfamiliar trouser leg.

Let’s just say we were both shocked. He apologised made his excuses and left. I abandoned any further attempts at trying on and just bought the 1 pair of good quality denim jeans that had already passed muster. For £1 in case you were wondering.

When I went to pay the gentleman apologised again and repeated that he’d forgotten he’d sent me in there. Well, that was his story and he was sticking to it, as was Peter who maintained that by the time he realised what was happening he was too far away to intervene, hemmed in as he was by racks of clothing and other shoppers.

Yeah right!

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