I am very happy to report that I am loving my experience as a charity shop volunteer.
Why the bloody hell didn't I do it sooner?
(Well, I did do a stint in Oxfam back in 1986, when I was an unemployed ex-student with no clue what to do with my life. Now, I'm an unemployed ex-employee, still without a clue. Plus ca change...)
This 1960s dress came home with me from work on Wednesday, along with a few other things.
Funnily enough, the 1970s wool coat is from the same charity shop, but about 3 years ago; it was on the £1 sale rail.
I liked the long sleeves but they were uncomfortably tight and made the shoulders ride up, so...
I chopped them off. I still need to do a quick hemming job, but I much prefer the shorter sleeves.
Just as a side note, it appears that I'm channelling Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black in the recent-ish TV series.
What's it all about?
Never mind Cilla - back to the charity shop.
I've been itching to get at the window display and play with the mannequins, which I did this week. It's like being a stylist for someone who doesn't whine about all the things they can't possibly wear, and simply accepts my suggestions without any argument. Fantastic.
And although I have picked up bits and pieces from the shop each week (it seems rude to leave empty-handed), I've been waiting for some vintage clothes to appear.
Along with the blue 1960s frock, these two 1970s shirt dresses are rather elegant; good labels too.
They were rescued from the rag bag. I wasn't on sorting duty, but I spotted a fellow volunteer putting armfuls of what looked like old fabric into the Black Bag of Doom, and squeaked out a request to take a look.
From 1950s bark cloth to 1960s psychedelia, there was so much fabric - a lot of curtains but also lengths of unused material, all musty and fusty but in great condition.
My colleagues laughed at my obvious (and to them inexplicable) excitement, and commented that none of it would sell, as it was all old-fashioned.
They also observed that it smelled; and yes, it did.
But it doesn't now. I brought home a huge bag, full of the fabrics shown above, which have been washed and are now fragrant and beautiful and awaiting transformation. (The photos show their before state; unwashed, creased, and probably untouched for well over 40 years.)
1960s dress, 1970s C&A wool coat, 1960s pendant, beret and bangles - charity shopped
Boots - retail (sale)
So help me out here, my dears - what can I do?
The manager and volunteers neither like nor value this kind of donation. The whole lot would have been consigned to the rag bag if I hadn't been there. Goodness only knows what gets binned on all the days I don't work. They don't want to put it out in the shop, and they don't realise that there is a market for it. I have explained that I like it, and that I know other people who do too, but I think I am seen as rather eccentric and odd.
Do I accept that I can't be there every day to check the donations for anything vintage, and gratefully pay whatever pittance the manager charges me for taking this stuff off her hands? Do I try and educate them? Where do I start with that? I would love them to put aside anything old and quirky for me to look at and advise them about, but I am only there once a week, and there is very little storage space. Donations come in and are usually sorted within the hour - it's a fast turn around.
Should I feel guilty for paying just £5 for a bag of vintage clothes and fabric which I know are worth more than that? I feel there is a moral maze here which I am struggling to negotiate, and a practical/logistical one too, come to that.
I'd welcome your thoughts and opinions.
(Just to add; the charity does put items on Ebay, but only if they believe they will fetch over £20.)
Am I making life more complicated than it needs to be?
Should I just take the money (vintage frocks, fabric, lithographs, old Christmas baubles) and run?
Have a great weekend!