Skint But Savvy

By M@ Last edited 159 months ago
Skint But Savvy

The BlogAndMagosphere is currently replete with shoddily written articles about Christmas shopping. That these articles quote ‘starting budgets of £10 per gift’, makes us burn with festive brandy rage. At this time of year, most Londoners are either a Scrooge or a Bob Cratchit: that is, tight as a nat’s chuff or stone cold broke. And London is very expensive. How can we skimp a bit and still complete our gift buying at just £2 per item? Londonist decided to trawl the streets in our very own bargain hunt.

1. Chocolates

Berwick St market, W1 (the strip show end near Somerfield)

Open: 10.30–5.30 Mon–Sat.

Nearly everyone loves high quality chocolates – having a spare box has saved our bacon many a time – and there are some great deals here. Mr Chocolate (that may not be his real name) was particularly helpful, which is always a bonus. Bargain: 12 Swiss dark chocolate pralines for £1. Blow the budget: A large box of mixed Belgian chocolates for £3.50.

2. Bath and beauty

Lush, 40 Carnaby St, W1 (plus various locations throughout London)

Open: 10-7 Mon-Wed, Sat; 10-8 Thur-Fri; 11-5 Sun.

Handmade from natural products: we love it! There's something for everyone. Even Lads who ‘don't do girlie crap’. Honest. Bargain: Ickle baby baff ballistic for £1 (known to sooth eczema). For ‘not girlie’ geezers: Razorantium shaving cream for £6.95.

3. Fashionistas

The Salvation Army charity shop, 9 Princes St, W1

Open: 10-6 Mon-Sat

London's worst kept secret style wise. It's no longer a case of straight upstairs for retro one-offs. Downstairs is groaning with good stuff too. You can find something for the trend addicts in your life in under an hour. And remember: if it’s ‘vintage’ they'll love it too. Bargain: Pink handbag for £1.99. Blow the budget: Galaxy-type blue leather pencil skirt for £20.

4. Records

The Mind Shop, 96 Grove Vale, SE22

Open hours: 10-5.30 Mon-Sat (but 10-5 Tue)

East Dulwich has got something to be proud of: this gem of a charity shop. We're vinyl addicts, and have lost count of how many times we've nipped in and unearthed gold. Examples? Will ‘White lines’, ‘French Kiss’ and ‘Here comes your man’ on 7” do for starters? Not bad for pictures and frames either. 7" are 50p, LPs and 12" £1.

5. Household and Books

Oxfam, 570-572, Kingland Road, E8 (plus branches everywhere)

Open: 9.30-5.30 Mon-Fri; 9.30-6 Sat; 11-4 Sun

Everyone's into home improvement these days, and according to hip publications it's mismatched and maximalism ahoy. So instead of spending £359 on a Pucci-inspired teaspoon give Oxfam a look in. Bargain: Delicate shot glasses 59p. Blow the budget: Huge brown casserole bowl £7.99.

6. Colourful kitsch

Wen Tai Sun Chinese Arts, 80 Dean St, W1

Open: 10.30-7 Mon-Fri; 11-5 Sat; 11-6 Sun

This is the Oriental place to go. You could trawl through Chinatown, but this is a great one-stop shop. Whether you're after a gold Buddha - small medium and large - smiling fortune cats, velvet slippers or even a triple Samurai sword set, they've got it. Bargain: Small soft stone elephant for £1.80. Blow the budget: Cheng king samurai sword for £58.

That's it.

What? You want more? Fine. Three charity shop chains we rate: Traid, Notting Hill Housing, Trinity Hospice.

If you've got any tips or suggestions, we'd love to hear them.

Thanks to Silvia for this post.

Last Updated 19 December 2005