Well, my secondhand safari starts in one week’s time for the casual reader, the challenge is that both me and Mr SHS will buy ONLY secondhand items – with the obvious exceptions of the likes of food and drink – for an entire year.
At this stage it seems important to re-emphasise that I’m very much in favour of the manufacturing and retailing of new items, when it’s done well and properly. See the ‘why am I doing this?’ as well as the ‘imagined faqs’ sections of the blog for the full explanation of this. A successful afternoon’s shopping, or a good retail experience at any time can be a wonderful thing, and I’m certainly not writing off the sense of satisfaction that you can get from returning home with a few different bags bulging with exciting new finds. But (you knew one of those was coming didn’t you?) sometimes it’s necessary to do something extreme to work out new ways to do things and also to form new ideas about the existing order of things. While some shops are booming (*whispers* John Lewis and the like) it’s fair to say that retail overall is in a bit of a tizz at the moment, what with empty shops everywhere, competition from t’internet and so on. I’ll be looking into all of that over the next year. And yes, I have got all the time in the world for Mary Portas before you ask – she is doing sterling work. I just don’t think that she should be literally the only person being given airtime to speak out about this stuff.
The idea to shop only secondhand for a year gives me the opportunity to look at ‘normal’ retail as an outsider, but more importantly to explore this alternative way of shopping and owning stuff and to make the point that mixing secondhand shopping in with your normal retail habits has to be a good thing to do all round. It’s SO much more fun to do… so random… so eclectic…
Anyway, as a paid-up lover of retail I decided to go for one last ‘new buy’ splurge yesterday, and as a new-ish resident of Manchester there was only one place to head: the Northern Quarter (independent shopping heaven). And specifically the world’s greatest craft shop Fred Aldous, for ‘making things’ supplies. Now, I’m not naturally a crafty person although I’ve made the odd attempt but every time I set foot in Fred Aldous’ humungous basement I leave again with my head buzzing with dozens of ideas about things to create and potential small business plans. They don’t usually come to fruition, but that’s not the point. I love it as a place to think and browse, and I usually leave with something strange and unexpected. Yesterday it was just the perfect picture hooks for hanging pictures on solid concrete walls, which solves a problem. Then upstairs I was drawn as ever to the notebook stands. I’ve got a real fetish about stationary, so as a ‘last supper’ type treat I allowed myself to buy the notebook
I’ve been lusting over for more than a year now. It was bliss.
Next just a quick scoot across the square took me to H. Blyth, which deals in the art, as opposed to craft, end of things. Here I bought some mounting board for framing pictures (yep, rock ‘n’ roll) and a pen to start some illustrating just for fun with.
I don’t think I’ll get the chance to go into town again before the safari starts, or certainly not without my children, aged one and three, whose presence provides the antithesis of the relaxed browsing experience. So how did I feel about this being the last time for a year? Unexpectedly sad and melancholy actually, which I wasn’t fully expecting. I’ll miss the chance to do this stuff from time to time, but at the same time I’m SO excited about the different ways that I’m intending to be shopping and acquiring stuff that even by the time I made it home on the 86 bus I’d snapped out of it and was back to looking forward to the next year. Nearly there, and I can’t wait.