Cancer Research UK, Ealing

It wasn’t  so long ago that charity shops were considered dumping grounds for unwanted clothes, no-longer-loved toys and chipped crockery. Displays were often in disarray and everything you touched had a musty stench that lingered in the nostrils and made you think of dampness, the dark and (let’s be honest) death.

Nowadays that’s no longer the case. Charity shops have had a big boom in sales ever since the credit crunch. Walk into a charity shop now and you’ll find a lot of them have had a serious makeover. Nice lighting, new fittings and friendly volunteers willing to serve you, as well as plug-in air fresheners (thank heavens) all make the charity shopping experience a pleasant one. Having upped their game, charity shops are now considered serious competitors to high street chains attracting new crowds of people all the time.

Take the Cancer Research UK shop in Ealing Broadway. Recently shop manager Lynsey Scott held a vintage sale to attract new customers and provide a new shopping experience for regular shoppers. ‘Vintage shops are trendy but can be so expensive,’ says Lynsey. ‘I wanted to offer the same charm and appeal to attract a stylish crowd and show you can buy vintage items in charity shops at bargain prices.’

The sale has been a huge hit. Not only have the shop takings soared to well over the usual amount, but Lynsey and her awesome team of assistants and volunteers have attracted new customers to the shop. ‘One girl told me she’d been waiting all week for the sale to start,’ Lynsey tells me.

Along with her team, Lynsey spent months identifying vintage items from the shop’s received donations. They collected everything from clothes, shoes and accessories to jewellery, luggage, and trinkets, storing them away in a corner of the stock room.

Lynsey has an eye for vintage, being a huge fan of the trend. ‘You can tell something is vintage usually by the label, the material and even by looking at the washing instructions on the inside tab,’ Lynsey explains. ‘Some items are clearly vintage from the cut and style,’ she says holding up a navy blue suit with bell-bottom trousers – obviously from the ’70s.

Those who did come to the sale left with bargains. One girl came away with no less than eight vintage pieces costing her just over £25. This retro-loving writer purchased a blue waist apron, a navy blue midi-skirt with a ditzy white flower print, plus a Rhonda Roy rose print summer dress circa 1970. Along with a few items from the regular second hand shelves, the total came to £38.50 – an incredible price considering last weekend’s purchase (a pair of jeans from a high street store cost £40).

The money raised from the weekend vintage sale goes towards an amazing cause. ‘There’s definitely been a buzz around the shop and I feel like more people know about us now so a huge thank you to everyone who came,’ says Lynsey. She also praises her excellent team at Ealing Broadway. ‘Everyone here devotes so much of their free time and without their hard work there wouldn’t be a Cancer Research UK shop.’

Future vintage sales are definitely in the pipeline for Ealing Broadway’s Cancer Research UK shop, so take note if you’re ever in the area. Other shops may offer a similar event so check out your local charity havens to see if you can find unique designer or vintage pieces.

Cancer Research UK
Ealing Broadway
66 The Mall
W5 5LS

Tel: 020 8840 1197

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