Tag Archives: charity shops

Bounty hunting

20 Jan

Just as there are many moments of triumphant discovery in the life of a bargain bounty hunter, there are also crushing disappointments.

This week I set my heart on an adorable little carved cabinet. Curvy and decorative and perfect in all the right places, it caught my eye at the local auction house. Totally impractical you understand – no need for it, no space to put it, and no real purpose either, it just captivated me like a pair of cut-price Loboutins would have my fashion-loving friends quivering in their heels.

Unable to get it out of my head, I sent Mr CV to auction to bid on my behalf. After a cool, competitive outing he arrived home empty-handed to deliver the bad news that the little beauty had climbed way beyond our budget. {He didn’t even get to demonstrate his well-practiced head nod}.

Sadly, that’s how it goes at auction: sometimes the things you love you lose. I guess I wasn’t the only one who spotted the potential in this lovely piece. The dilemma is knowing how much something is actually worth to you, and how much you’re willing to pay. And then having the conviction to stick to your guns in the split-second it takes to achieve a winning bid.

For anyone who hasn’t been to auction before, I highly recommend it. Even if you’re not searching for anything in particular, the buzz of a busy auction room full of eager bidders is an experience not to miss.

Why not visit: http://www.ewbankauctions.co.uk/

Here are three of my other favourite, and most fertile suggestions for bargain vintage buys…

Not always easy to spot the difference between trash and treasure; so many people use car boot sales as an excuse to offload all manner of useless and ugly junk. Perseverance and a sharp eye will get you the most fantastic, eclectic, and affordable items though. The best car boot sales are the ones where proper traders –  antiques dealers, house clearance firms – use their stalls to sell off the less valuable, but often still lovely items that are pretty much worthless in antique terms.

Best buys: Empty picture frames; mismatched crockery and cutlery; vintage fabrics; dusty, unloved furniture; old books

Top tip: Arrive either first thing or just as everyone is packing up. Stallholders sometimes clear the decks by offering everything for under £1, or – even better – completely free.

My favourites:



I’ve become a bit cynical about the way that charity shops seem to be inflating their prices. I accept that I’ve been the beneficiary of some fantastic bargains, but their main, invaluable service, of course, is to all those people living on a budget who are dependent on affordable second hand clothes and homewares.

I’m just sorry that soaring rents, or overheads, or staff costs – or whatever is behind it – has the effect of pushing up prices. I overheard a charity shop manager chatting the other day about monthly takings in her rather smart branch. It all sounded more like sales targets than selfless social benefit to me.

Rant over! Give to charity and get yourself a potential quality piece at one of the huge furniture and homeware warehouses. I’ve stumbled across sweet dining chairs, pretty vintage tea sets and even a beautifully proportioned solid oak writing desk in the past. Never underestimate the power of a good rummage!

Best buys: Larger pieces of furniture {dining tables and chairs}, mid-Century ceramics, decanters and cut glass

Read more here

Teeming with avid collectors and interesting characters from the antiques world, this kind of destination is a vintage-lover’s dream. Prices may not be rock bottom, but most traders love a good haggle – fantastic fun if you have the courage to strike a deal. Stallholders come from across Europe, so you can pick up really fascinating things from France, Belgium and some of the more far-flung east European countries.

Best buys: French furniture, ironmongery and outdoor items, vintage fabrics, collectables

Why not visit: http://www.iacf.co.uk/ardingly/

Have a great weekend {especially if you’re bargain hunting!} and see you again soon…