I'm not about to become a charity shop blogger - there are ladies much better at it, and more dedicated, than I am, like Lakota at Faith Hope and Chariy Shopping, or Scarlett Loves Elvis. But I had an experience in a local charity shop recently that has left me puzzled.
Let me explain.
I was practically brought up in charity shops ('thrift stores' to American readers, or 'op shops' to Australian readers). My mum would drag me around Goodwill as a child in San Francisco, and when I was a teenager, I liked nothing more than spending afternoons in the local Salvation Army, picking up bits and pieces that I would re-make. So the charity shop habit is hard to break. But it's frustrating in London, as I rarely find anything worthwhile- it all seems to be H&M from a couple of years ago - and don't even get me started on the prices.
But ever the optimist, I wandered into a local charity emporium with the hope of maybe finding a little treasure. (I won't name the shop, just that it rhymes with Boxjam...) I nearly jumped out of my skin when I saw these tacked above the mens racks:
Could these really be Biba posters? And those shiny bits in the corners - is that sellotape? I had to get a closer look:
Sorry about the quality - I was nervous I would get told off for taking photos...
On closer inspection, they appeared to be the real thing - Biba logo in the corner, suitably aged and yellow. Could they be fakes or reproductions? I doubt it - not the sort of thing someone would bother faking, and the quality of the paper seemed too good. And they were stuck to the wall with big bits of sticky sellotape! SELLOTAPE!!!
I couldn't see a price. I approached the till, trying to act all casual. 'How much for the 2 posters over there?' Notice I didn't mention Biba, in case they put a huge price on it (tactics!). But I didn't expect this response:
Boxjam dude - 'They're not for sale.'
Me (flustered) - 'Really? Why not - I'm willing to offer a good price.' Of course, I had no idea what this would be. And the fact they'd treated them with such disrespect implied they didn't really care about them - so just take my money and give it to the starving children!!
'They're just for decoration. It's hard to display posters for sale, and these were just gathering dust downstairs, so, no - they're not for sale'
Me - 'OK, but you do realise they're probably worth quite a lot. Maybe they shouldn't be stuck up with tape?'
Charity guy - shrugs - 'They were just gathering dust, no one new they were there, so we just hung them up to brighten the place up.'
Me - 'Are you sure you won't sell them?'
'They're not for sale.'
And with that, I walked out of the store a bit dazed. Is it just me, or does anyone else think it's odd that a charity shop, that prides itself on helping the starving and needy abroad, would refuse an offer of money? Or should I have admired their defiantly anti-capitalist stance? Was it wrong of me to expect that the offer of money would get me whatever I wanted?
Maybe they were just junk, and I was getting all worked up over nothing. So I consulted the oracle of all antiques - Ebay - to find that the 1 of the posters, in good condition, was selling for $275/£173!!! (See it here)
The posters were originally made to advertise Biba cosmetics around 1970, and were shot by Sarah Moon; the description in the Ebay listing exactly describes the one I saw. This made me even more frustrated, but of course I don't have a spare £170 for a poster. More than anything, I was just really annoyed that such lovely pieces were being treated so badly, and that a store which usually goes out of it's way to price more desirable pieces in a higher bracket had missed something so obvious.
What do you think? Have you ever had a similar experience?