When I first started A Little Bird Told Me back in 2009, I was a charity shop obsessive. I visited my favourites at least once a week and always left with armfuls of stuff. Admittedly, much of that stuff was eventually re-donated or sold on due to its uselessness, but there were some real gems to be found. My thrifty haul posts featured regularly and I was forever showing off my second hand wares. For the next two years, I stocked my wardrobe and dressed my house largely from charity shops and car boot sales.
This year, however, things are markedly different. We're slap bang in the middle of thrifting season - the car boot sales should be in full swing, charity shops should be groaning under the weight of spring cleaning donations. But they're not. The weather has played a part - constant rain has stopped regular car boots - but mostly, people just don't want to give their hard-earned stuff away or sell it cheaply. And in contrast, eBay has thousands of auctions for the things I'd usually see in charity shops - vintage dresses, faux fur coats, even Primark's finest.
I still visit my favourite charity shops, although the lack of good stock means I no longer come out with armfuls of stuff. The car boot sales I went to every weekend last summer have been cancelled since early June due to waterlogged fields and driving rain. I haven't done a 'Thrift Find of the Month' post since March, simply because I haven't found anything.
I popped in to my local St Gemma's Hospice shop last week and picked up a couple of things - this art deco-style vase for £2.99 and this Zara dress for £4.99. They're my first charity shop purchases in months. There's no doubt charity shops are suffering from lack of donations, and less stock seems to push prices up to cover the difference. Bargain hunters are left empty-handed, but surely the ones who suffer the most are the people and animals these charities support.
I have a huge (and I mean huge - it's obscene) pile of clothes that I'd usually stick on eBay to make some extra pennies (for more clothes... it's a vicious circle). But I've bagged it up and will take it to my favourite charity shops next week. I don't begrudge anyone for trying to make a little more money in these recessionary times, but I've had so much enjoyment from second hand shopping, I think it's only fair to give a bit back. I'll still sell on eBay when I can be bothered (the image uploader gives me rage), but I want to see charity shops back to their bargainous best. And that means donating the good stuff, rather than selling it.
What do you think - have you noticed a decline in stock at your local charity shops? Are your second hand finds few and far between these days?