Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Archived Articles - Generation Why

08 December 2006
Why charity shops are cool

Following Victoria Beckham’s visit to an Oxfam shop, Sarah Goodwin tells
us how she was converted to the world of second-hand.

It’s not exactly rare to see pictures of Victoria Beckham out and about on a shopping spree, but the British media went into a frenzy a few weeks ago when she was seen buying a cocktail dress and a fashion book in the Notting Hill branch o Oxfam. Instantly, Oxfam shops were declared fashionable, and the profits for that particular store went up by a rumoured 70 per cent in the week following her visit.
I wonder if Posh had visited my local shop a few years ago would I have always thought of Oxfam as a cool place to shop?

During my school days, Oxfam was the shop in town that my friends and I avoided at all costs. It wasn’t really anything to do with the organisation as such, more the fact that it was a second-hand shop. We didn’t want to be seen in someone else’s clothes when we could be hot-footing it into Top Shop just a few minutes walk away. The opinion that charity shops were only for people who couldn’t afford anything else wasn’t just ours - in fact it was probably representative of a lot of teenagers at that time. Back then it was bad enough to have to stand outside while your mum popped inside, but to be seen actually coming out of a charity shop - well that would be social suicide!

But it all changed when at 18 I moved to London. The new people I met thought nothing of popping into the city and browsing through the rails of charity shop after charity shop. I’ve known fashion-conscious individuals rave about having an Oxfam Vintage in their local town yet shudder at the thought of stepping anywhere near New Look or Primark. It took me a while to come round to their way of thinking. I’d spent 18 years avoiding charity shops at all costs, but once I saw what a charity shop had to offer I was converted. What a delight to find that you could get beautifully crafted greeting cards along with old vinyls, coffee, chocolate and books. On a student budget, Oxfam was the place to be, especially when it came to fancy-dress nights at the local student union. Even now I’m no longer on a student budget I’m happy to browse through any Oxfam I come across, and I know where I’ll be buying my Christmas cards this year.

I’m sure that some of the younger generation still find charity shops an embarrassing place to be, but that’s just part of growing up and trying to fit in. However, Victoria’s latest trip may change their opinions for the better.
So why not grab a bargain while helping a worthy cause? It’s all in a day’s shopping, and if it’s good enough for Mrs Beckham, then it’s good enough for us!


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