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Bargain seekers find unique items in second-hand shops

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Customers shopping at a thrift store in Europe
Bargain hunt: Berlin, Germany, has dozens of flea markets and almost 300 thrift shops | Photo: Julien Pier Belanger

Over the past decade, way before saving money became a trend as people try to get through the current cost of living crisis, going through second-hand items in thrift shops has been a habit for many seasoned treasure hunters. And, although in the UK these same places are called ‘charity shops’, the idea behind it is universal: to find a bargain, to spot something unique and take it home – even if you don’t necessarily need it.

“I go to thrift stores regularly, once or twice a week, just to check things out (mostly without buying an item). As a former fashion student, I enjoy looking at beautiful things and trying stuff out. Then, last month, for the very first time, I spotted an antique item that I found unusual enough to buy. I do not buy or sell antiques regularly, as I do not have the expertise – not many of those can be found in general thrift stores.”, says Alexandra Nima, an Austrian entrepreneur who lives in Estonia and recently paid €18 for a framed antique silver dagger while visiting a Tallinn thrift store.

Once she got home, Nima searched on Google to try to identify the purchased item, and found out that she now owned a silver khanjar, a traditional dagger originating from Oman, a country located on the Arabian Peninsula. The accessory is part of Omani male national dress, dates back to the 19th century and, in 2014 Dorotheum, an auction house founded in 1707 in Vienna, a similar item was estimated to be worth between €600 and 800.

“Not a bad catch for a first-timer” – celebrates Alexandra – I will now definitely keep my eyes open around here for further rarities!”

Designer Nathan Heinrich who in 2020, during the height of the global pandemic, moved from New York to Italy to live with his partner, also visits his favourite thrift and vintage shops in the Prosecco Hills, near Venice, several times per month.

“Currently, I am collecting art, lighting, dishes, and interesting objects for a home we are renovating here in northern Italy. In the past month I have purchased an 1800s shopkeeper’s scale for €40, a 1960s amber teardrop crystal chandelier (€50), and a Collection of 19th-century copperware priced at €10 each.”, says Henrich. “Spending the day wandering through little shops full of treasures is one of my favourite pastimes – especially if the prices are a bargain!”, confesses the dual-citizen professional that used to run offices in California and New York, but now his new life includes running a digital magazine and podcast about his experiences as an American living in Italy.

There’s a thriving thrifting scene all across Europe, with thousands of flea markets and charity shops trading second-hand items online and over the counter, making the old continent one to hunt for unique objects – several of them unnamed relics and remnants from wartime Europe.

Nima and her €18 antique silver dagger: eyes wide open for rarities


“While I was in Budapest, Hungary, I went thrifting at an eclectic cold-war antique shop. It was full of memorabilia from the USSR and had a lot of interesting antique electronics, like camera gear, that was Soviet brand and never sold in the West. Even more interesting than the electronics was the Soviet Propaganda. There were lots of posters, boggle heads, dolls, and other trinkets hailing Stalin, Lenin, etc.
There were also gas masks and army gear. Going thrifting in Budapest was honestly like stepping into a time-machine to the USSR.”, recalls Katie Cafaro, a travel blogger from New York, who has been full-time traveling for the past year and frequently visits thrift shops. “I got a button that says something in Russian, it’s beautiful but I have no idea what it says. Overall, I thought the store was very inexpensive for the quality and age of the goods. Very few antiques were over $50.”

Besides high street thrift stores, many cities in Europe also offer regular flea markets.

In Vienna, Austria, those looking for great-value items that once belonged to someone else visit Naschmarkt, a food market that since the 1970s has held a flea market every Saturday morning, with stalls selling anything from furniture and old vinyls to tableware, clothes, and books. In Naples, vintage-lovers flock to Mercato di Resina (Via Pugliano) one of the most famous markets in Italy for second-hand and military goods. And in Paris since the 1860s the Marché aux Puces de St-Ouen, one of the biggest flea markets in the world, has welcomed thousands of traders every weekend selling bric-a-brac, clothes, and art.

Saving money may be more necessary than ever. But, regardless of the escalating cost of living in Europe, going through second-hand items in thrift shops and flea markets – be it to find a bargain or an unusual item – has been catching the attention of people for centuries.

Lifestyle

10 Thrift Stores in London to Shop on a Budget

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10 Thrift Stores in London to Shop on a Budget
Octavia was founded by Victorian philanthropist and social reformer Octavia Hill, who began her work with the poor of London in the 1860s

Thrifting in London offers a fantastic way to shop stylishly on a budget while supporting sustainable fashion. Here are 10 must-visit thrift stores in London, each providing a unique shopping experience.

TRAID

TRAID offers a wide range of second-hand clothing, with proceeds supporting global development projects. The store is well-organized, making it easy to find stylish, affordable items. TRAID’s commitment to sustainability and ethical fashion makes it a popular choice among conscious shoppers.

Opening times: Monday to Saturday, 10am to 6pm; Sunday, 11am to 5pm.
To find your nearest Traid: http://traid.org.uk/shop-at-traid/

Beyond Retro

Nearest Tube: Oxford Circus
Beyond Retro is a haven for vintage lovers, offering a vast collection of retro clothing and accessories. The store is known for its eclectic mix and affordable prices, making it a favorite among fashion enthusiasts and bargain hunters alike.
Opening times: Monday to Saturday, 10am to 7pm; Sunday, 12pm to 6pm.
For more information: beyondretro.com

There are even Fara thrift shops dedicated to kids

FARA Charity Shop

Nearest Tube: Notting Hill Gate
with 40 shops and 30 years in charity retailing, FARA Charity Shops support children in Romania, offering a wide selection of clothing, books, and homewares. It’s a great place to find unique, budget-friendly items while supporting a good cause. If you go a bit outside London, there are even  Fara shops dedicated to kids.
Opening times: Monday to Saturday, 10am to 6pm; Sunday, 11am to 5pm.
For more information: faracharity.org

Oxfam Boutique

Nearest Tube: High Street Kensington
Oxfam Boutique offers a curated selection of high-quality second-hand clothing and accessories. Proceeds support global poverty reduction efforts, making it a great place to shop with a purpose.
Opening times: Monday to Saturday, 10am to 6pm; Sunday, 11am to 5pm.
For more information: oxfam.org.uk

Crisis

Nearest Tube: Stratford
Crisis supports homeless people in the UK, offering a range of second-hand clothing, books, and homewares. It’s a great place to find affordable, stylish items while supporting a good cause.
Opening times: Monday to Saturday, 10am to 6pm; Sunday, 11am to 5pm.
For more information: crisis.org.uk

Cancer Research UK

Nearest Tube: Gloucester Road
Cancer Research UK shops offer a wide selection of second-hand clothing and accessories, with proceeds funding cancer research. The stores are well-stocked and reasonably priced, making them a popular choice for budget-conscious shoppers.
Opening times: Monday to Saturday, 10am to 6pm; Sunday, 11am to 5pm.
For more information: cancerresearchuk.org

Sue Ryder

Nearest Tube: King’s Cross St. Pancras
Sue Ryder charity shops offer a range of second-hand clothing, books, and homewares. Proceeds support palliative, neurological, and bereavement support services, making your shopping trip meaningful.
Opening times: Monday to Saturday, 10am to 6pm; Sunday, 11am to 5pm.
For more information: sueryder.org

Barnardo’s

Nearest Tube: Shepherd’s Bush
Barnardo’s charity shops offer a variety of second-hand clothing and accessories, with proceeds supporting vulnerable children and young people. The stores are well-stocked and affordably priced, making them a great option for thrifters.
Opening times: Monday to Saturday, 10am to 6pm; Sunday, 11am to 5pm.
For more information: barnardos.org.uk

Octavia Foundation

Nearest Tube: South Kensington
Octavia Foundation charity shops offer high-quality second-hand clothing and homewares, supporting local community projects. The stores are known for their stylish selections and affordable prices. Octavia was founded by Octavia Hill, the Victorian philanthropist and social reformer, whose ideas formed the basis of the profession of housing management. Octavia began her work with the poor of London in the 1860s; she was a pioneer of social housing, a founder of the National Trust and the first clean air campaigner for London.


Opening times: Monday to Saturday, 10am to 6pm; Sunday, 11am to 5pm.
For more information: octaviafoundation.org.uk

Shopping at these thrift stores in London not only helps you save money but also supports various charitable causes and promotes sustainable fashion.

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Lifestyle

Four great reasons to get married at home

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Four great reasons to get married at home
Hosting weddings at home frees up 60% of the budget for other expenses | Photo: Álvaro CvG

Your wedding venue sets the scene for one of the most special days of your life. If you want to get married in a place that both you and your partner love, choosing to tie the knot at home may be the perfect fit.

There are a multitude of reasons you might want to get married on your own property. Not only does it make for a cosy, sentimental celebration, but it can also be significantly easier to plan a micro wedding. And that’s not all – coming up, we share three reasons it’s a great idea to get married at home.

A low-key, romantic atmosphere

Your home will be one of the places that’s most meaningful to you and your partner. It’s likely where you spend the most of your time together, making it the perfect setting for an intimate, romantic celebration.

Here, you’re surrounded by all your personal items, like family photos, memorabilia and other special trinkets  – that’s the vast majority of your wedding decor taken care of. Plus, celebrating at home means you won’t have to worry about finding a place to stay on your wedding night, and many of your guests will live in close enough proximity to get home after your celebration too. Without all those practical elements of the day to worry about, both you and your guests are likely to feel less stressed, which will only add to the low-key, relaxed atmosphere.

A sustainable celebration

On average, 14.5 tons of carbon emissions are created by the average wedding celebration. There are many elements that make a wedding unsustainable – chief offenders include imported flowers, single-use decor items and food waste.

Getting married at home will most often mean a smaller guestlist, and that means less of these items will be needed to make for a great celebration. With fewer mouths to feed, you’ll be cutting down on food waste. Plus, there’s less space to decorate than there would be in a large wedding venue, meaning you’ll only need minimal decor items, if any at all.

Just remember that while a wedding at home is the more sustainable option, it can still be harmful to the environment – try to be mindful of your energy consumption and waste throughout the day to ensure an eco-friendly celebration.

A budget-friendly option

Having most of the things you need for your wedding already means that you won’t have to purchase lots of new items, which will reduce the cost of your celebration considerably.

Most couples will need to dedicate around 40% to 60% of their overall wedding budget to their venue – by hosting your wedding at home, that’s plenty of money freed up to spend on other things. For example, the honeymoon you’ve always dreamed of.

There’s more you can do to make your day as affordable as possible. You could ask some of your loved ones to bring chairs, rather than having to rent seating. You could also choose to DIY your decor with items you have lying around the house, or make your own wedding cake – a DIY cake will not only add to the homely atmosphere you’re after, but it’ll also be easy to keep it deliciously fresh.

Freedom to plan your dream wedding

Your wedding day is special, so it’s natural to want to celebrate it somewhere that’s meaningful to the both of you. You should never feel pressured to host a wedding that’s bigger and grander than you’re comfortable with – in fact, there’s something magical about keeping your wedding small and intimate, with only your closest loved ones in attendance.

If you’re unsure, remember that there are no rules when it comes to celebrating your wedding. You can pack your house full of a hundred guests if you want to, or keep it to a select few – just make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into if you do opt to host a bigger wedding at home.

Besides the size of your celebration, you can make your wedding at home as lavish or as low-key and rustic as you wish. It’s your home – so you have total freedom to plan it in keeping with your vision for the perfect day.

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Why Are Dogs at Polling Stations So Popular in the UK?

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A Terrier dog at a polling station in the UK
Some of the UK's 13 million dogs have made it to polling stations for the General Election today

On election day in the UK, it’s not just voters who are making their way to the polling stations—dogs are too! The tradition of bringing dogs to polling stations has become a popular one up and down the country. Not surprisingly the hashtag #DogsAtPollingStations has topped the trends on social media platforms since early morning today, with proud pet owners sharing pictures of their dogs waiting patiently outside the polling stations.

In the UK, there are approximately 13 million dogs, with popular breeds including Labrador Retrievers, French Bulldogs, and Cocker Spaniels. The popularity of bringing dogs to polling stations can be attributed to the British love for dogs, the joy of sharing the voting experience with a beloved pet, and the chance to participate in a charming, community-driven social media phenomenon.

Social Media Consultant Anna Skipwith turned up at her polling station in London with a pack of dogs, while author Rory Cellan-Jones brought his rescued Romanian dog, Sofia, to vote with him this morning.

Can Anyone Bring a Dog While Voting?

Yes, anyone can bring their dog to the polling station while they vote. However, dogs are generally not allowed inside the polling station itself unless they are assistance dogs. Most voters tie their dogs outside the station while they go in to cast their vote.

Tips for Looking After Your Dog at the Polling Station

If you’re planning to bring your dog along when you vote, here are some tips to ensure it’s a pleasant experience for both you and your pet:

  1. Leash and Secure: Always keep your dog on a leash and make sure you can securely tie them up outside the polling station.
  2. Bring Water: Ensure your dog stays hydrated, especially if you anticipate a wait.
  3. Avoid Peak Times: Try to visit the polling station during quieter times to avoid long waits and crowded areas.
  4. Stay Close: Make sure your dog can see you or that you can quickly return to them if needed.
  5. Check the Weather: If it’s a hot day, make sure there’s some shade for your dog, and if it’s raining, bring a towel to dry them off.

Restrictions to Be Aware Of

While dogs are welcome to wait outside polling stations, there are a few restrictions to keep in mind:

  • No Entry Inside: Except for assistance dogs, pets are not allowed inside the polling station.
  • Tied Up Securely: Ensure that your dog is tied up in a way that doesn’t obstruct the entrance or pathways for other voters.
  • Behavior: Make sure your dog is well-behaved and doesn’t pose a threat or nuisance to other voters.

Things to Keep in Mind on July 4th, 2024

With the upcoming general elections on July 4th, 2024, here are a few additional considerations if you plan to bring your dog along:

  • Plan Ahead: Check the specific rules or guidelines for your local polling station.
  • Consideration for Others: Be mindful of other voters, especially those who may have allergies or fears of dogs.
  • Post a Photo: Join the fun and post a photo of your dog at the polling station with the hashtag #DogsAtPollingStations!

Bringing your dog to the polling station can add a fun and memorable aspect to your voting experience. Just ensure you follow these tips and guidelines to make it a positive experience for everyone involved.

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