Scottish Thrift

John and I atop Scot's monument in Edinburgh; a monument to Sir Walter Scott who is credited with inventing the novel

Well I’m back from my wonderful trip to Scotland, celebrating 25 years of marriage to my sweetheart, reminded how much I love travelling with him. We explored a great deal of the land of his ancestry and saw so much: castles, cathedrals, standing stones, unearthed villages, sheep and cows, faery glens and mountains – and thrift shops.


the Oxfam and Cancer Research Charity Shops in trendy Broughty Ferry on the east coast of Scotland

Scots, of course, have a reputation for thrift but even I was surprised at the sheer number of thrift shops we encountered; they’re everywhere. What surprised me most was their location, many of them right in the heart of the tourist centres or on the main street next to boutiques selling expensive wares. If you’re from Vancouver, imagine a thrift shop on Robson Street or in Gastown.  I kept wondering how they could afford the rent.

What I noticed right away was that most of the shops didn’t look like typical thrift shops. They were small and uncluttered, looking more like trendy boutiques than second-hand stores. Several of them sold new items as well – like Christmas cards or trinkets touting logos of the charity they were supporting.


Just across the street - PDSA - kind of like our SPCA

All sold clothing and shoes, a few books and CDs, accessories and maybe a few knick-knacks. None sold furniture or other large household items – not surprising given the limited space. All of them had signs on their doors begging for donations, which really surprised me given that my experience with MCC Thrift Shops in Abbotsford and other thrift shops I’ve seen in BC that often have signs at their delivery entrance saying they’re so full they can’t accept donations. (Not that this should stop any of you from trying to make a donation to a thrift shop!)


The Salvation Army, which, oddly, had no fitting room.

I probably visited more than a dozen thrift shops in the three weeks that I was away but I came back with very little. There are a few reasons for this.

First, I was conscious of the fact that I didn’t have a lot of room to bring things back with me. Now those of you who read my last blog will be saying, “Wait a minute, didn’t you take a whole extra suitcase with you?” I did indeed but that suitcase disintegrated almost as soon as we arrived in London.  I should have taken a photo of it, actually; it was quite something. So I arrived in Great Britain with 3 suitcases and came home with 2. What’s wrong with that picture, right? Sigh.


Capability Scotland supports adults and children with disabilities

Second, I was also conscious of my sweetheart, who is not a huge fan of thrift shopping. Don’t get me wrong, he encouraged me to go into the shops and even tried on a few things but since our primary purpose for travelling was NOT thrift shopping, I didn’t want to take a ton of time sifting through things like I would normally do. In truth, the shops were all so small that it didn’t take a long time to give them a once over and get a feel for whether or not I’d be successful.


I'm a sucker for bagpipes, which may or may not have something to do with having graduated from Simon Fraser University

Having said all that, I did find a few small treasures, which I’ll share with you next few weeks, starting with this one: a CD of the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo (think bagpipes, not body art) – used, only 99p (pence).


how can you not love plaid reindeer?

We also picked up these lovely plaid Christmas cards, new, with 100% of the profits supporting Capability Scotland who work with disabled adults and children. All the shops shown here were within a block of each other in Broughty Ferry, a very upscale area of Dundee on the east coast of Scotland.

More next week – what did you find while I was away?


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4 Responses to Scottish Thrift

  1. Megan says:

    I’m so glad your trip went well!

  2. Jenifir says:

    Sounds like a wonderful trip. I was England and France this past summer and did a bit of thrift shopping in Salisbury -they are everywhere there too- but none in France. It is great to see the difference as well as the similarities. Your purchases look like they were worth the space in the suitcases.

  3. Pingback: Living within your means | thrift shopper for peace

  4. cyndee says:

    Hi. I just found your post. I am headed for Scotland this weekend with my hubby. I have been there before in 2009 but did not have the time to visit the thrift stores. This visit I would love to check out a few of them. Do you have any suggestions? I was hoping to find a thrift store/ Charity store that sells used kilts. Or is that wishful thinking?

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