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Charity Begins… In Stony Stratford

Charity Begins… in Stony Stratford

I am an enthusiastic charity shopper. For readers, the Butterfly Loft is haven of previously loved books and some of my favourite talking points came from local charity shops. They may not be antiques, but they’re in pretty good shape. That cute little telephone box, the big red “&”, the London double decker bus and pottery cupcake, all came from Age UK, Willen Hospice, RSPCA and Oxfam respectively. Do we have the best charity shops in the world or what?

Charity shopping may be a slightly unusual pursuit, but when you’re booking accommodation in Milton Keynes, you could fit in with the locals and do a little light charity shopping yourself!

In 20+ years of dedicated charity shopping, I can say with some confidence that I have rarely passed a charity shop without checking it out. As well as books, I specially love recycled scarves and jewellery and I have bought some amazing bargains in clothes. I got a perfect black and white patterned Planet suit for £20 on one occasion. I don’t think it had been worn more than once. It’s uber-smart and I still use it.

The creative use of good quality second hand stuff adds a really unique charm to a place. When you see the Butterfly Loft I think you’ll agree.

If you fancy a bit of bargain hunting in Stony, here are my tips for an enjoyable (and thrifty) visit.

  • You need to spend a bit of time looking. You can often unearth good finds if you have the patience to go through them all. Be prepared to rummage. The layout of a charity shop can put people off. Be willing to search and find some hidden gems.
  • When you think you’ve got a find, examine the item carefully. No-one wants to find their perfect item, only to get it home and realise it’s ripped, stained, smelly or got a faulty zip. Check carefully before you pay to avoid any nasty surprises.
  • Check labels, especially for dry clean-only labels. Dry cleaning is expensive (and not particularly environmentally friendly), so this is something to bear in mind too.
  • Charity shops can be great places to buy designers you’ve never heard of. If the label says, such-and-such Made in France or so-and-so Made in Italy, you may have found something really different. Turn it inside out and look for a care label. Look for 100% wool or 100% cotton.
  • If you’re hunting for crockery, look at the base. You might find some Spode, Royal Worcester, Royal Doulton or Denby.
  • Children’s toys are often really good value. When buying toys make sure there is nothing broken or sharp that could hurt the child and where possible check that things are working. (You may not be able to do this if it’s something that requires batteries). We’ve bought a number of things for my husband’s grand-daughter from charities. When she’s outgrown them, we re-donate everything and another child can get some use out of them too.
  • Books are always a bargain.
  • Everything I buy from the charity shop gets washed before it makes it into my wardrobe or kitchen. If it smells bad in the charity shop, the rot may well have got so deep into the fabric that you’ll never get it out. If there is even a slightly bad whiff about it, leave well alone.
  • Don’t buy: second hand: shoes, underwear, towels and bedding.

There is lots of potential just waiting to be discovered in your local charity shop. If you have a home project, or a costume to make, they are absolute goldmines! And of course the money you spend in them goes towards helping some fantastic charities.

Book in at the Butterfly Loft for a charity shopping extravaganza!

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