Thursday, January 9, 2014

Thrift Stores in Ireland

Charity shops or thrift stores have long been a staple of our shopping.  Since both of us were teenagers (in different Iowa cities) we were regular visitors of Goodwill, St. Vincent De Paul (St. Vinnie's), Salvation Army, and other charity thrift stores.  In Iowa, we were used to huge warehouses of junk treasure ripe for the plucking.

Clothing, cookware, sports equipment, electronics, and bin after bin of unsortable, unnameable, indescribable paraphernalia were accepted indiscriminately and tossed on to the showroom floor.  Items were priced by category rather than piece by piece.  "All pants and slacks $2" would be on display proudly on top of a rack of unsorted men's and women's jeans, shorts, dress slacks, khakis, capris, spants(?), skorts(?), tankinis(?), and other clothing cuts I can't define.

Dishes, pans, souvenir mugs and glasses, and all manner of interior home goods would be laid on sheet metal shelving, often sorted by color alone.  Games and puzzles (with missing pieces) would be piled high among Happy Meal toys from 1992 again priced by category, "TOYS: 88 CENTS."

Spoiled as we were, we hoped charity shops in Dublin could set us up with all of our material goods.  We saw the signs on our first day for charities like Oxfam and Barnardo's and their urban storefront shops- and we couldn't wait to visit.

Now, Oxfam, Barnardo's, St. Vincent De Paul Society, and all the other shops are good charities doing good work and should be supported, this essay is just to point out the differences we've seen in the shops here.  The most noticeable difference is the smaller size and more selective merchandise of the shops here.

Most of the shops (that we've seen) are in small storefronts, not our big suburban American stand-alone buildings with large parking lots.  Because of reduced space (we think..) the shops have to be more selective of the merchandise they accept, and items are all priced by the piece rather than by category.  This only makes sense in the smaller-size stores here, the earnings-per-square-foot must increase as square feet decrease.

Sadly, we have yet to find any glorious airplane hangar-sized charity shops, but that isn't to say we haven't found anything cheap and useful at shops here...

A dress, a shirt, some yarn, two mugs, and red shoes bought from a charity shop in Dublin
One Load
The above load was all picked up in one lucky visit to a charity shop in Dun Laoghaire in our first few weeks here.  The red men's(!) shoes are a particular favorite.  We will keep looking and keep supporting our charity shops, because they do great work with all volunteer staffs and all donated merchandise.  Midwest American friends and family, think of us next time you visit the huge Goodwill in Omaha, the furniture-filled and cat-inhabited basement of the Mission Thrift store in Dubuque, and large cheap thrift stores everywhere.

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