Last summer, I discovered a second hand shop of dreams in Budapest. It sold British brands at low prices. Naively, I thought this was a one off but all over Poland, you’ll notice second hand shops bearing the sign, ‘Tania Odziez’. Literally meaning cheap clothes, these shops are big business in Poland. As a believer in buying things second hand, you can see why I was curious to find out what Krakow’s shops had to offer.
Stepping through the door of one of the many shops on Jozefa in Kazimierz, John headed off to look for retro football shirts, and I expected his return within minutes. Struck by the rails and rails of clothing, it was clear John wouldn’t be returning any time soon! I headed for the dress rail first (naturally) and what did I find? Many, many dresses, all in varying conditions. A beautiful monochrome vintage dress with a gorgeous white collar sat nestled next to a Primark knitted jumper dress. The rail was cluttered with many budget British brands like Dorothy Perkins, George and F&F. Still, that didn’t deter me. I’ll always look for the diamond among the tatters.
With prices written informally on pieces of neon paper, and of course, in Polish, it’s hard to work out exactly what an item costs. It’s not just the language barrier that can make it difficult. Prices can significantly vary depending on what day of the week you shop. Monday is notoriously more expensive as it’s the day the stock comes in, whilst Saturday is apparently the cheapest day of the week. We visited on a Monday and, using Google Translate, we discovered dresses were priced at 24 Zloty which is around £4.
You might think that isn’t expensive, I certainly don’t for second hand clothing that is in nearly new condition…but the clothing I saw, was clearly pre-loved. Bobbles, tears and faded dresses all mingled together. It was because of this that I decided against the silver glittery Zara boots I’d made a beeline for and also returned the vintage dress to the rail when I spotted a huge tear. Whilst shopping, a thought struck me. Is this where our cast-offs go when we sell them to private companies?
So, on our return, I decided to look into it. According to the United Nations Comrade Database, Poland sells the most clothing imported from the UK each year. $74 million worth to be precise. And it’s not just the clothes we choose to sell on. Brace yourself. Reportedly, our charity shop donations can also end up sold to wholesalers who then sell our goods to retailers.
The burning question I left asking is, why is cheap clothing big business in Poland? Reading forums, as well as articles, seem to suggest that the lack of limited discount retailers forces shoppers turn to used clothing. In the UK, we have a plethora of discount clothing shops and even on a strict budget, shops like Primark can help us afford the basics.
Whilst, I didn’t buy anything this time. If we return to Poland, I’d happily spend a day rummaging in their second hand stores. However, there’s one question I’m still wrangling with in my head…
When you take out the element of charity, does this make thrifting less appealing?
When something sounds too good to be true, it usually is. But, I like to think that I’m an eternal optimist and it’s this blind optimism that made me purchase this red jacket from Everything5Pounds. It was a purchase made in minutes, but it was far from an impulse buy.
You see, I’d been casually searching for a red coat for some time now: weeks, months, years. Ever since I let my dream Topshop jacket slip through my fingers, I’ve been trying to find a similar coat. Recently, Everything5Pounds got in touch and invited me to their Manchester Bloggers Tea Party. Their timing wasn’t the best and, as it was my birthday, I already had plans and couldn’t go. But, that didn’t stop me browsing the website.
When I found this £5 red jacket, I added it to my basket and paid swiftly. When it arrived, I couldn’t believe my eyes…
It was such great quality as well as being every bit as cute as I expected (if not cuter). Including postage and packaging, the coat cost £8.95 and was delivered in days. Whilst I doubt the coat is a high street brand, I be happy to pay a high street price for it. On the site, the buttons concerned me and I planned to replace these with sturdier buttons. However, I like their brightness and even though they’re plastic, I think they look quite rich.
// Collar dress :: Urban Outfitters (old) //
// Black courts :: Matalan (gift from the bff) //
// Watch :: Olivia Burton //
And speaking of birthdays, I was lucky enough to receive a new Olivia Burton watch from John. It’s no secret, I love Olivia Burton watches. Not only are they durable and hard wearing, they’re also so dainty. Thanks to the ASOS sale, John was fortunate to snap this up for half price! I’m still getting into the hang of wearing it, but I do love how it looks with my new jacket.
Have you ever shopped with Everything5Pounds?
I know what you’re thinking. Thrifting? Again? But, believe it or not, I am starting to buy fewer clothes in charity shops, making purchases only when I am entirely certain I will wear them. I’m starting to learn that if something appears to be a bargain, it’s only a bargain if it’s right for you. I mean, how many unworn items do we have in our wardrobes that were seemingly cheap just going to waste?
I feel really fortunate that I live in an area of the country where charity shop donations are of high quality and are reasonably priced. It’s that magical combination. As I spend my time between two homes in Merseyside and East Lancashire, I have a bigger area of charity shops in which to cast my proverbial net. Because of this, I have become very selective about the shops I visit. I have found those rare gems and try to visit them as much as I can. One of my favourite shops is Age UK, in Burnley and that’s where I found thrifted item #15. The denim skirt.
Usually, I’m a standard size 12 when I buy a skirt. I’ve never been anything less, nor have I been anything more. This skirt is a size 14. As soon as I spotted it hanging on the rail, I felt the quality of the denim, saw it was from Miss Selfridge (recent too, judging by the label) and instantly thought, ‘Bargain!’ If only it was right for me…
I tried it on. Although it’s a size too big on the waist, it’s loose enough to sit on my hips and can be worn on my waist if I cinch it in with a belt. As my wardrobe is missing a denim skirt, I decided that it was right for me. So I brought it home for £1.99.
So far, I’m smitten. It fits right in my wardrobe and I can see me chucking on cozy sweatshirts and pumps when I’m lazing, or adding a 70’s turtleneck and boots when I’m feeling fancy. Win, win.
// Denim skirt :: Age UK, Burnley (originally Miss Selfridge) //
// Patent brogues :: F&F (old) //
// Parka :: H! by Henry Holland at Debenhams //
// Bear hat :: Topshop //
What have you thrifted lately?
(I love to read your thrifty posts too. Please leave me your links in the comments.)
I’ll admit, buying every day, basic items from charity shops isn’t the most exciting topic to be blogging about, but stick with me on this one. From classic Breton tops to well fitting jeans, some of my favourite finds have been run-of-the-mill, casual clothes. So it’s no surprise that #14 is a basic, a jersey polka dot top.
Originally from Next, it’s a very simple monochrome polka dot jersey top with three quarter sleeves edged in a contrasting striped trim. I found it in Burnley’s ‘Glad Rags’ shop one Saturday afternoon, John was at the Burnley match and I was trying to find reasonably priced work wear (okay, cheap work wear because let’s face it, it all ends up decorated in a rainbow of felt tip pen and Biro anyway). Like most work wear, it didn’t make me feel excited. In fact I deliberated whether it was worth the £2.50, but I decided to take a punt.
So you’ll notice this isn’t the work wear outfit I probably invited you to imagine with my description. No. You see, the next day John and I decided to grab a coffee and go for a stroll. It was a beautiful autumn day, still warm but a fog had descended and even the sunlight couldn’t persuade it to leave. Perfect. I reached for the top straight away as it’s such an easy top to match.Not only is it easy to wear, it’s so comfortable. It’s now become work wear and casual wear. Definitely worth £2.50 of anyone’s money!
I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but recently, I’ve started to play with patterns. Pattern clashing, pattern matching and pattern mixing. It feels like the next, natural step from playing with colour! As I’m buying fewer clothes, I’m delving deep into my wardrobe and mixing my new finds with clothes that I’ve had for years!
// Outfit Details //
// Polka dot top :: Glad Rags (originally Next) //
// Necklace :: c/o Lucy Q at Jewel Street //
// Wedge boots :: Clarks originals //
// Mustard coat :: Topshop (old) //
// Satchel :: The Cambridge Satchel Company //
What have you thrifted lately?
Want to catch up on my thrifty series?
I’ve been a reader of Charlotte’s blog, Charity Shop Gold, since the very beginning. Call it nosey, or blame it on my love of thrift, but I always enjoy reading all about her finds. One of the charity shops Charlotte mentions the most is Mustard Tree and I’m always in awe of what she finds there. After mentioning the charity in her post about the ethics of selling charity shop finds, it reminded me to visit the next time I was in Manchester. Thankfully, I didn’t have long to wait. After an early finish on Tuesday, John and I hopped on the bus to Manchester.
A short stroll from the city centre, Mustard Tree is located in the Ancoats area of Manchester. A charity that exists to support the homeless and marginalised, The Mustard Tree provides life support in the form of food, clothes, furniture and training to enable those in need to get back into education, training, volunteering or work. It’s a charity I’ve donated to in the past by text
On entering the Oldham Street branch, you’re presented with a hub of activity: employees chatting among themselves as they restock the rails, customers browsing, members of the community catching up. The large, shop floor of the warehouse is divided into sections for selling furniture, clothing and bric-a-brac. In the clothing section, the clothes are separated into two sections: gifted and high street. While the high street clothes are very well priced (jackets for £3, dresses for £2) it’s the gifted section that interested me the most.
As part of their sale, for £2.50 you can fill a bag with items from the gifted side. As this was my first visit, I was unsure of how much would fit into an undefined bag. In addition, I didn’t want to appear greedy, or take things that I didn’t need or wouldn’t use. It’s hard because you want to support the work of this valuable charity, yet you don’t want to take something if someone of greater need could make use of it. Browsing the dress rail, I didn’t find any dresses that appealed to me (I later found out from our WhatsApp group chat that Charlotte had been in the day before and scored some great finds).
The knitwear rail yielded the most results for me. My first find was a khaki fisherman style jumper, originally from Warehouse. Then I happened to find a black cardigan: not the most exciting find, but something I’ve been looking for. With two items, I knew my bag wouldn’t be full but felt £1.25 was well worth it for each. Then I spied a beautiful teal jumper from F&F. With three items, I headed to the till.
Ironically, I’d brought my ‘Love More’ tote bag from this outfit post. The aptness of the bag’s message wasn’t lost on me, nor John, as I placed my items in my bag and handed over my cash. I’m sure I could have easily fit more in my bag, but I’m happy with my finds and will be blogging about them soon in my ‘What I Thrifted’ series.
I’m looking forward to returning to Mustard Tree and I can definitely see why it’s one of Charlotte’s favourite charity shops. If you’re in the Manchester area and fancy taking a visit to Mustard Tree you can find their main branch on 110 Oldham Road, M4 6AG. Alternatively, find and follow them on Twitter here: @MustardTreeMCR