Why I Love Streatham Charity Shops
By: Hannah Northedge
I moved to Gipsy Hill from Lewisham five years ago and I've been enjoying exploring the surrounding areas ever since then. Streatham has been a regular haunt for me for a multitude of reasons: My favourite style of architecture is Art Deco and there is plenty to be discovered here, from former or current cinemas and The High housing estate. My nearest HSBC Bank is here (since the one in Penge closed down!), I run on a regular basis and running downhill past Streatham Common is quite exhilarating! Cafe Rosco become my makeshift office when I was studying for my anatomy and physiology exam on Masters degree in Voice Science (and trying not to get distracted by the beautiful French Lebanese music they often play) and one of the regular musicians in my band lives here, so I come here to rehearse and record demos.
Oh, did I mention I am a vocal coach and a professional singer specialising in performing vintage jazz, swing and blues from the 1920s - 1960s? For these shows I like to dress as authentically to the era as possible but can't always afford to buy original vintage items, so this is where the Streatham charity shops play a significant role. During my visits here, I'd find an excuse to "just have a browse" but would inevitably emerge armed with more clothing than I can fit inside my tiny flat!
First up was Wandsworth Oasis on Leigham Court Road, a spacious boutique with very well arranged displays, where I happened upon a lovely delicate candy pink Jane Norman cardigan for a mere £3! I shall wear this over my 1960s style Mod dresses in the summer and autumn months. Their selection of clothing is vast and impressive and of the highest quality of any charity shop I've been to, with much of it designer wear. The real draw is the half price rail where I found my cardigan!
Next up was The British Heart Foundation shop that I visited in a rush one evening, as it was about to close. I spied so many glorious vintage items in my two minute spree, but I was determined to leave with a little woollen grey argyle sweater top by Business that was just made for my 1940s gig photo shoots and set me back a whole one pound! I also sometimes work as a lookalike of Vivien Leigh, star of epic film "Gone With the Wind", so this would be a lovely choice of attire for such events, teamed with my vintage wide legged "sailor" trousers. From the same shop came a vibrant blue retro sweater by Next for just £3! I wish I had bought the acid yellow 1960s style dress I saw in there too. I may pop back to see if it's still there!
Special mention goes to the Books and Music branch of this charity shop, further up the road towards Streatham Hill - a superb comic, book and CD shop, where I once heard a wonderful 1960s TV themes CD blaring out!
In earlier trips to Streatham, I stuck to the area closer to Streatham Hill station and further towards Brixton, but in recent times whilst on the bus to Norbury to record 1930s and '40s jazz standards in a friend's studio, I spotted a whole plethora of thrift shops that I vowed I must visit! Boy, am I glad I did, as I discovered an item in the Sense shop that, of all the charity shops I've been to in any city, I am most proud of finding! A luxury llama wool German manufactured 1960s coat, and a steal at £7. Just £7, readers! It was probably the same price in the actual 1960s! It was a double whammy for me in that shop as I also left on a high with a Miss Selfridge two tone Mod style dress in camel brown and navy blue with a cute Peter Pan collar - a snip at £4! I knew I had to buy it when the shop staff (and customers) were commenting on how much it suited me! Both of these items will be perfect for the seasonal change to cooler days around October.
One of my most treasured purchases came from the Cancer Research Shop, however, it is not a clothing item. One cold December night, when the shop was closed, I noticed on prominent display in the window a very unusual original painting on canvas for just £3. The Cubist / Art Deco style, theme and colours made me hellbent on returning the next day to buy it and now it has pride of place in my hallway! I always wanted to own some original art and even though this was only £3, it makes me happy! The artist is Hannah Mitchell, but I have not been able to find out anything more about her or her art, sadly. From the same shop I also treated myself to a 50p ceramic version of the Twitter bird, since I'm an avid tweeter @HannahNorthedge
My next stop on my charity shop trail shall be the All Aboard shop further down towards Tesco. This shop is packed with very high quality goods and their window displays always look so inviting, so I must treat myself soon!
I have snapped up more charity shop bargains in Streatham in the past few months than any other part of London so this is proof that one can dress stylishly on a very tight budget (which is necessary for a professional musician like me!)
If you wish to see Hannah singing at a gig dressed in one of her retro charity shop purchases, please view her website at: www.hannahnorthedge.co.uk
If you wish to take vocal coaching with Hannah (vintage attire not guaranteed!), please visit: www.voicecity.co.uk