Reporter’s Column: In defence of charity shops

Sue Ryder's new store in Garden Street, Cromer is being outfitted this week. Picture: Courtesy of Sue Ryder

Sue Ryder's new store in Garden Street, Cromer is being outfitted this week. Picture: Courtesy of Sue Ryder


Cromer presents an amusing binary of opinions depending on whether you ask a visitor or a resident what they think of the town.

Ask a visitor what they think of Cromer? “It’s beautiful, it’s independent, it’s friendly and generous.”

And whilst residents may also say the same, a few do have the same grumble: “There’s too many charity shops.”

When I first began working here a little under a year ago, I understood where they were coming from. In fairness there are rather a lot here for a fairly small place.

In my 20-something (and quite wrong) opinion, I previously thought that these shops would be full of junk which my Nan would love, but which I would never spend my money on... Let alone look forward to my lunch break for the very purpose of footling through the stores.

I hold my hands up, I was mistaken.

On a fairly low budget I’ve managed to redecorate my entire living room out of bits and bobs I’ve found in these various charity shops.

Without giving away too many of my best tips... I discovered the absolute gold mines for who had the best stock in various home wares around Cromer.

Need a new vase or jug? Head to Sue Ryder. Their back wall is full of glass and pottery (all which look as good as new) and displayed in colour order to make picking really easy.

Picture frames? The Mid and North Norfolk RSPCA shop is the place to go.

I found three solid wood picture frames with prints in there and paid £13.50. Out of curiosity I looked online, and for the same look but worse quality from a high-street store, I would’ve paid at least three times that.

Plantpots? You can never go far wrong with the Big C on Church Street.

Plus, in Cromer you can fill your book case (or beach bag) with books without the prices keeping you up at night.

Pretty much every charity shop in Cromer has a vast array of hardbacks and paper backs, at a couple of quid each.

So, to people who say that charity shops age our town I say this: go inside.

You’ll realise pretty quickly, as I did, that the perception around charity shops in Cromer at least, is quite misguided.

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