Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Charity Is On The Red Carpet

It is not only celebrities who have been busy over the last few days, the Baftas, then the Grammys, the SAGs and this evening the Brits. The red carpet's all but worn out and not by the Girl's second hand Manolo Blaniks or Loubutins. (the one's with the distinctive red soles.) yet. Even Kylie found her gold hot pants and they're now in the V and A before being recycled yet again. We suspect they'll go for more than 50p, the original price Kylie paid. The stars are catching on but the snobbery surrounding the unmentionables still exists. Perhaps it's the high street giants keeping these best kept secrets out of the press. Corruption in the corporations? Not I said the sparrow with my bow and arrow.

The Girls, undaunted by the luke warm response to charity shops from the toffee nosed ranks of the fashionistas from which they have thankfully risen, have started their own awards extravaganza The Brocs, Best Of British Charity Shops and the Oscars are just around the corner. Will 2007 be their year?

Having found themselves homeless and penniless after a string of disasterous choices the designer wardrobes they were used to are history. Give these women a problem and they'll find a solution, particularly when it comes to looking fantastic. The jewel in their depleted crown has become other people's cast offs. The joy of rooting through old cardies and turquoise anoraks to find a needle in a haystack, a high that beats weed they assure me. Now free and viceless, a huge thank you goes out to all the other crazy shopaholic women, shadows of their former selves, victims to their obsession for retail who fill the charity shops with the by product of their addiction, brand new designer treasures, tickets still attached. The Girls are eternally grateful for all the amazing donations people make but are genuinely happy to help anyone overcome their madness. It is possible to get over any addiction, they've mastered them all and now coach others to do the same everyday.

Anyway their jaunts up and down the country in search of the creme de la creme has lead to the first Broc to be awarded. Before I announce the winner I would like to point out the five criteria the stores are judged on and how the points awarded.

1. Cleanliness and smell. (Yes or No)

Everyone's fear of a bad charity shopping experience is a bad smell. It doesn't matter if it's the staff, the customers or the merchandise (or a combination of all three) a bad smell will leave you running for the hills. If the store can't pass the smell test it's out of the running for the BROC.

2. Window Design. (1-3)

Is the window well dressed? Does it entice the customer in?

3. Store Merchandising. (1-3)

Is the store visually appealling. Is the store well laid out. Are the displays interesting and current. Are the clothes colour coordinated. Are sizes organized and clearly marked.

4. Quality of merchandise. (1-6)

Quality varies hugely. A score of one indicts mostly no name brands. Two would indicate mostly inexpensive high street brands eg. Primark, New Look. Dorethy Perkins. Three, middle range high street, eg. Marks and Spencers. Four, designer high street, eg. Karen Miller, Hobbs, Jigsaw, French Connection, Morgan. Five, boutique, eg Ted Baker, Bench, Versus, Armani. Six couture, eg. Dior, Dolce and Gabbana, Channel.

5. Staff. (1-3)

Do the staff care about their job or are they just getting through their community service?

6. Price. (1-4)

One indicates expensive, two average, three, very reasonable and four down right cheap.

The Girls are looking are looking for stores that score in excess of ten out of a possible twenty and of course pass the sniff test.

Harrogate, North Yorkshire plays host to 7 soon to be eight charity shops, with a Sue Ryder store opening soon opposite Shelter but the prize of the beautiful spa town is Dr. Barnados with a score of 14. The staff make this wonderful charity shop a pleasure to visit. Well done.

If you are a charity shopper yourself and not ashamed to admit it you may have met the mad pair and no they are not American although their outlandish clothes sometimes lead people to make that assumption. You know what they say about those that ASS U ME. Just because they don't look like everyone else doesn't mean they must be American. If you'd been there (or read their book) you'd never make that mistake. Rarely are they ever spotted in leisure suits and sneakers unless by cross country runners in the bleak mid winter.

Keep reading for the best of the best when it comes to charity shopping and watch out all you fashion disasters, they are coming to a town near you.

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