Over the next few months, I plan to catch up with some of the UK's top charity shopping bloggers to find out a little more about just why they love charity shopping and blogging and what are their top tips for finding a bargain.
This week I was lucky enough to catch up with the lovely El Jones (as featured on Channel 4, Superscrimpers!), a twenty something journalist, radio producer and voice over artist to find out a little more about both her and her popular frugal lifestyle blog of A Thrifty Mrs.
I love your Thrifty tips and advice on the blog, why is it important to you to be thrifty?
I think there are a few reasons thriftiness is important to me.
1. I have limited means and don't want to get into the financial stress I was in as a student or newlywed.
2. I think I've become a little bit addicted to finding a bargain or not spending at all.
3. I think we have enough items on the planet, I want to do my best to use what we've already got.
Thrifty blogging seems to becoming quite popular at the moment, why do you think this is and why did you start blogging?
I think the economic down turn has changed the way people look at a lot of things. People have had to relearn (or for us younger folk out there - learn from scratch) how to budget, how to meal plan and how to make our money stretch further. I think it is only natural to want to share these new found skills - it is so easy to become quite evangelical about saving money. Blogging is the modern version of popping around to see your neighbour for a chat, it just so happens you're chatting with a great deal more people.
I started blogging as a newlywed, we had no money whatsoever and had to make our money stretch. We weren't shopping in charity shops because it was fashionable, we were shopping in charity shops because if we needed a new pair of trousers for a job interview then that was our only option. As I mentioned with learning how to save money, once you get over the miserable hump it can be really addictive. I wanted to tell everyone I knew how to we'd done it, blogging seemed the natural next step.
Your blog has a great following, what sort of person do you think follows your blog and why?
I think my blog following evolves and has changed a lot over the years. I imagine my blog readers to be a bit like my friends or even me. I see them as being in their late twenties and out for a bargain. Lots of my readers know more than me about saving money and many know nothing at all. I think my blog is a great middle ground and meeting point for those people to come together and say either 'phew, someone else does this' or 'wow, I could save money like her and it would be really easy.'
I love your charity shop finds, what is it about charity shopping that you love?
I like a bargain, I like to support charities and I like knowing I'm not polluting the planet with further items. I particularly love that I never know what I might find. I get a little rush of excitement when I enter a charity shop, will I find something amazing?
Are there any particular shops or locations that you particularly love for charity shopping (or is that a closely guarded secret!)?
My favourite locations change all the time but my top tip for really good charity shops is to take a day trip. My friend and I like to hop on the train to a run-down seaside town and trawl their charity shops. We get to see a new town, village or city plus poke around charity shops - heaven. We've never once been disappointed.
What is your favourite ever charity shop find?
Yikes, there have been so many. We have a beautiful mid-century cocktail cabinet which cost us £35 including delivery. We'd seen a near identical one in an upmarket London shop for £700 the week before, so we were thrilled to find it in perfect condition in a charity shop near our home. My favourite clothes find has to be the vintage nurses' cape I found in Oxfam in Liverpool. I get compliments every time I wear it.
How would you describe your style?
I think my style is 'anything goes'. One of the best bits about shopping in charity shops is you can try out things you'd never have dared try - at a much lower price point.
Please can you share some of your top charity shopping tips?
- Go on a regular basis.
- If you see something you like but it doesn't quite work for you ask the staff if they have anything similar out back. Lots will take the time to have a look and some will even take your number and give you a quick ring if a blue vintage suitcase crops up.
- Look in every nook and cranny. Get on your knees is you have to. I can't tell you the amount of things I found stuffed in a box under a table or pile of old coats.
I notice that Mr Thrifty is also a fan of charity shopping. Is there any advice that you or Mr T could give to men looking to give charity shop style a go?
Mr Thrifty likes to wear a mix of high street, vintage and second hand so I struck lucky there!
I think he has a deliberate strategy when we enter a charity shop, although I'm sure he won't admit it to me. As soon as we go, he separates himself off from me and heads straight for the menswear - he knows I'll yack away about everything I see otherwise - he just likes to get in there and get on with it. I'll often glance over a shop floor to see him sniffing the armpits of an old suit jacket. I think his top tip would be to just get in there and paw everything on the rails. He is very good in that he'll try items on, I'm the same - I try
everything on and always wear leggings and a vest top so I can strip off on the shop floor if I have to.
A big thankyou to El for taking part in this interview and sharing her photographs.
You can check out her blog at www.athriftymrs.com
Or follow her on Twitter @AThriftyMrsUK