So, I have a friend who works in Belgravia and she’s been telling me about this cluster of great charity shops in the area. I rarely go to this part of town as I quickly become fed up with the stiff upper lip “I-buy-all-my food-at Harvey Nic’s-foodhall” segment that seem to populate the white stucco houses.
But, armed with a map, we decided it was time for an excursion. First we headed for the Red Cross Shop in Ebury Street. I’ve been to this one before, around 3 years ago and it hasn’t really changed: it’s small and quite overpriced but has a decent selection of clothes and accessories. We spotted a nice Courregès coat but it cost 80 pounds and had a big stain on it. No way. It’s one of these shops where you might be lucky but be prepared to pay the price.
Verdict: 2 1/2 out of 5 stars
Then we left Belgravia and walked past Victoria and towards Pimlico until we found Warwick Way, where four charity shops lie almost side by side.
First up on the righthand side is Hospices of Hope (charity that provides care for terminally ill children and adults in Romania). Very nice and quite spacious shop with a good and broad selection of clothes and accessories and a bit of bric-à-brac and furniture. Reasonable prices.
Verdict: 3 1/2 out of 5 stars
Hospices of Hope, 40 Warwick Way
Next up, on the opposite side, was the Sue Ryder Care shop (charity that provides care for people with terminal or long-term conditions). Ok little shop with a small and a bit boring selection. Prices are reasonable.
Verdict: 2 1/2 out of 5 stars.
Sue Ryder Care, 35 Warwick Way
Stay on that side of the road and a bit further down you find a very nice Oxfam shop. Upstairs are clothes, shoes and accessories for her and him and downstairs you’ll find the books & bric-à-brac. Quite a good and big selections with many high-end brands. Prices are ok but not low. I found two very nice big (and brand new) white tea mugs for 5 pounds.
Verdict: 4 out of 5 stars
Last up on this street is the neighbour shop, the Fara Charity Shop (Fara works with orphaned and abandoned kids in Romania). I honestly don’t know how great this shop normally is, but the day we went they had an amazing 1 pound sale and my friend and I both picked up very nice silk dresses (will show you later).
Verdict: 4 out of 5 stars (because of the amazingly cheap prices)
After that you turn left and walk up Upper Tachbrook Street. If you’re feeling tired and need to boost your blood sugar levels (or maybe you’re accompanied by some kids that you need to bribe) you should pop into this lovely candy & chocolate store, Chocodeli – apparently the have a miniature train running under the roof, how magical is that…
Enough about candy. We had a more important mission, as we were heading for Retromania further down the street. It doesn’t look like a charity shop at all, more like one of the many annoying and privately owned “vintage” stores where everything is sooo retro and “hand-picked” and priced accordingly. But this is actually another Fara charity shop. And yes, the things have been handpicked and the prices are a bit higher than in your average charity shop but at least you know that your money goes towards a charity.
I loved the cosy dark and cave-like interior with rows of 70’s jumpsuits, fancy hats and sequined dresses. The staff was very nice too. This is where I found my (already very) beloved animal print scarf.
Verdict: 4 1/2 out of 5 stars
Retromania, 6 Upper Tachbrook Street
Last, but not least, we headed for Churton Street. We were aiming for the brilliant Crusaid Shop (Crusaid supports people living with and affected by HIV and AIDS). But alas! they had just locked the door when we arrived. After taking a look at our sad faces the two guys behind the counter let us in any way for a quick browsing. Lovely, lovely shop with a good selection (lots of designer brands, and apparently they often get never-used donations from various high-end designers like Ralph Lauren and Nicole Farhi).
Behind the counter was the most cheerful and energetic charity shop manager I’ve ever met. We both left the shop with a smile on our face after that encounter. Clothes, accessories etc. are in the front and the back room has been made into a cosy library, where you can test drive your books before you buy them.
Verdict: 5 out of 5 stars