Scottish Thrift Genius

Boats in the harbour in Ullapool

On our way down the west coast of Scotland we sloshed around Ullapool on a very soggy day. I visited two thrift shops here run by Blythswood Care . They separated their books and CDs into a separate shop at a different location, which I thought was interesting.  I was very impressed with this little space. Books were organized alphabetically by author’s name and by genre – which is something that many thrift shops try and do but few succeed at. But as if that weren’t impressive enough, they also had their CDs alphabetized and organized by genre. I’ve NEVER come across that at a thrift shop here. The very elderly gentleman who was volunteering that day said they have a volunteer who is “very concerned with keeping things in order.” I figure volunteers like that should all be designated to book and CD areas.

Blythswood Care Book Shop on the waterfront in Ullapool

In Portree, on beautiful Isle of Skye, we visited this little place, tucked in up and behind a florist.

This was a little hard to find!

This was more of what I’d call a typical, church-run thrift shop: small, cluttered, make-shift change room behind curtains and friendly, chatty volunteers. I found a lovely blue scarf here for only one pound for my sister – which I forgot to photograph (my apologies.) So instead, here’s a lovely photo from the Isle itself.

The view from the Quaraing, Isle of Skye. I have about 100 photos like this, one more beautiful than the other.

Back on the mainland we spent a couple of days in Fort William, hiking the misty Glen Nevis, finally seeing Highland Cows, which are on every other postcard but not readily visible in real life. We were starting to think they were something like Sasquatch until we finally came across this herd.

These are becoming more scarce in Scotland since they are a slow growing, expensive breed. Cool to look at though, eh?

Fort William is not very big and caters primarily to outdoor enthusiasts who are there to hike and ski. But their cobblestoned main drag has some lovely shops, including this British Heart Foundation charity shop.

British Heart Foundation has shops all over Scotland

This was another one of those shops that combines new items (like Christmas cards) with used items. The interior is beautifully laid out and looks more like a boutique than a thrift shop.

what do you think? doesn't look like a typical thrift shop, does it?

These folks had a great idea for their tags, using them as marketing tools to describe the quality of their clothing or to recruit volunteers and more.

"High Street Labels" perfect for a boutique item like this lovely sweater (didn't fit me right.)

This is a stroke of genius, I think. You have to tag your clothing anyway, you’re absolutely guaranteed that your customer is going to look at the tag, so why not use that little space to advertise something? I think it’s brilliant.

what a great way to recruit volunteers, or tell folks something about your shop, or the charity you support - think of the endless things you could do in this little advertising space!

It’s been interesting to visit thrift shops in a foreign country and see the similarities and differences. I like the term “charity shop” almost better than thrift because the very name reminds you that you are supporting a charity of some kind. And in the end, I think that was the nicest similarity – that no matter where you are thrift shopping, you are supporting the good work of volunteers who are trying to make a difference to someone in need.

If you want to read more about others who have been thrifting and traveling, I encourage you to visit Apron Thrift Girl and Thriftcore; both have had recent posts about thrift shopping while on vacation in different places in America.

UPDATE – my lovely niece, Alivia, took photos of two things I bought for her and for my sister – a scarf on Isle of Skye and the belt in Fort William. Thanks Alivia!

i love the way the plaid fabric is woven throughout this belt!

this beautiful blue scarf matches my sister's beautiful blue eyes!

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7 Responses to Scottish Thrift Genius

  1. i love the tags on the clothing! you’re right, it’s such a neat way to advertise. i also like all our finds…wish i could be thrifting in a different country right now!

  2. Van says:

    I looove this post, so jealous you got to visit Scotland, too. Thanks for reporting on their culture! 😀 You know I’m a sucker for it.

  3. Megan says:

    Angelika, I just met someone who lives in Western Germany, and she says that she doesn’t like the thrift shops in Germany, but knows that there are great ones in Scotland. I said, “Hey, I heard that too!” Here’s to hoping I’ll check them out someday 🙂

    Thanks so much for sharing.

    • that is so interesting. i was in Germany 25 years ago and there were almost NO thrift shops where we were living (Freiburg) so it’s interesting to hear that there actually are some. i wonder what it is that she doesn’t like about the shops in Germany, did she say?

  4. Pingback: How important if branding to you? | thrift shopper for peace

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