What's your worst experiences with vintage and secondhand shopping?

Source unknown.

I've being buying from vintage and charity shops for several years but I've had some bad experiences and I would love to hear about yours. Shopping should be a nice experience but more often than not it's frustrating for several reasons...

  • Lack of lightning.
When I walked into a vintage shop in York the lightning was horrible, I was squinting like mad and tripped over a hat stand within 2 minutes. When I asked them what was going on with the lightning I was told: "We don't like light in here" with a teenager-ish shrug. That shop owes me a plaster! Shoppers love space and lots of light, have you ever noticed that the best and most expensive shops usually follow this rule? Compare TX Maxx and Topshop.

  • Bad display.
Oh my Jam Tarts I hate boxes full of vintage scarfs, last month I was rooting through one hoping to score a nice black silky one. But I reached too far and nearly fell in the box, it fell and ripped at the edges creating a sea of scarfs. It's quite easy to display scarfs and jewellery, just use vintage suitcases or old bed boards. Please anything but cardboard boxes.

Packed rails annoy me but I generally stick with them in the hope of finding something amazing, a good tip is the simply remove a load at once and stick them elsewhere until you've finished. Disorganized rails really bother me though, why are boots and shirts hung together?

  • Dust bunnies and other nasties.
I honestly don't understand why some shops won't wash or at least run a lint roller across their items before displaying them, obviously if it's not dirty I wouldn't bother but I've seen plenty of items that are. It puts people off buying them because we're all so used to clean items, sometimes I wonder if it's stained or simply unwashed.

My worst experience in this category is seeing a mouldy top on a rail, I thought I could smell it but when I saw it it disgusted me. What if someone was allergic to mould spores or asthmatic? I will leave a shop straight away if I spot dust, it immediately makes me very wheezy and I don't want to risk an asthma attack.

  • Measurements.
It appears it's not just the high street that has serious issues with sizing, most vintage and secondhand shops simply state "size ten" on a label but what does it mean exactly? I range from size 6 to size 12 on the high street so I no longer use clothes sizes as a guide. I think it's just laziness to be honest, all they have to do is place a tape measurer over the item or display a size chart.

  • Damages.

I expect damages from vintage shops and specially from charity shops, but if it's impossible to fix why sell it? A bust zipper or a small stain I could cover up I can deal with, but massive stains across the front or the back of the dress is missing what's the point? Not many people are willing to fix things at home, specially if they're new to secondhand. It'll remain hanging on the over crammed rails forever until it finally gets thrown in the bin, I think it should be put it in the scrap bin straight away. At least lower the price so people can buy it for spare buttons.

  • The discoveries.
I've learnt not to simply dive my hands into pockets or just grab a bag anymore, I have the worst of luck when it comes to handbags. One time I handed over a bag to the shop assistant and a massive moth flew out, we both screamed bloody murder but thankfully the bag wasn't moth chewed. My absolute worst moment was when I bought a vintage handbag, I noticed there was sand on the edges so I brushed it off. But when I got home the shopping bag was littered with sand, I looked inside the vintage handbag to discover the inside was covered and filled with sand. I've since cleaned it over five times but the sand still appears whenever I use it, I think it's inside the lining but it's impossible to clean in that area.


SaryWalrus said...

Wow, that sand experience sounds horrible. In my town, my mother has worked for the majority of second hand store's here, and they are actually very picky about the item's they display and I think they do a wonderful job. They never forget to clean everything. :)

Julietslace said...

It's mostly annoying, like a magic trick that mocks me. I'm glad they clean in your area at least :)

Lauren said...

Wow! You have some interesting stories!

I must admit that displays are my biggest annoyance. I was a merchandiser at a couple stores for several years and it really ticks me off to see product poorly displayed. It just makes me not want to touch anything.

It's such a delicate balance in vintage stores, too, because poor display can make things look dirty or grimy. I especially hate when jewelry is all clumped and wound together.


Julietslace said...

Yeah I'm very clumsy so over the years I've being in some dodgy situations, my bad hahah.

I hate it when they clump jewellery together because you have no idea where one necklace ends, I darent touch them in case I pull the whole stand off!

Stefanie said...

I actually volunteer in a charity shop and in terms of rail organisation it's usually by size and if any are messed up or wonky it's usually to do with customers taking things to try on and putting them back in the wrong place e.g. a 10 with a 14.

We're very fussy about item quality, usually tiny marks or minor repairs required (e.g. loose belt loops, missing buttons etc) and if a jumper is bobbly then it goes in the rag bag. I'm not sure what happens to the rags, they either get up-cycled or sent to people in need.

Sizes are usually what's on the label; small, medium and large; or are guesstimated by another item of similar size. While it doesn't take much to measure an item there are a lot of clothes that get sorted and not many volunteers and it's pointless if someone doesn't know their measurements.

I admit we're guilty of chucking scarves in a basket but we try not to put too many out at a time and bigger ones get hangers on the linen rail.

Bags are another thing that are checked thoroughly and chucked out if not up to scratch. For example the other day a nice soft leather bag came in but it was dirty inside which meant it was unsuitable for sale.

The shop is well lit and nicely uncluttered... Well with the occasional exception in the furniture area XD

Sorry for the long rambling message, just wanted to show that there are some shops with fairly good practice though I guess it depends on the shop and the area. I work at PDSA in Portishead, North Somerset yet there is a Changing Lives in Clevedon nearby which is really disorganised, it smells funny, it's dark and the books are a total mess, all old and yellow and falling apart. *shudder* I hate seeing books like that :(

Julietslace said...

I worked in retail and it really annoys me when a customer just bangs them randomly somewhere, or knocks something over and doesn't put it back it.

At majority of the secondhand shops in Hull they sell things that have stains or wearing, they would be a lot better off the scrap bin. Totally disappointing in my area :(

My art college buys scrap boxes of fabric, we use them to test sewing machines on or experiment with dyes. If you're unsure what to be do with scraps then ask your local art college.

To be honest I don't mind scarves in a basket, you can't hang them all out there would be no room!

Stefanie said...

I think the rags go off somewhere and I expect they get money for them like the books. They bag up the crappy ones or ones that haven't sold and they get taken away and then the shop gets money at the end of the month for them. I might ask when I'm next there and find out for definite.

I do know that stuff that hasn't sold within a certain length of time (anything from 2 to 4 weeks, whenever someone checks XD) goes off to different shops, usually Weston-Super-Mare as it's one of the closest cuz the driver comes along on Thursdays and takes them, then does normal furniture collection/delivery on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays.