Ok so secondhand stuff might seem a strange suggestion for a Christmas present. Perhaps you are starting to pity my family (maybe you did already). But those of you who know Letchworth probably already know that we have quite a lot of shops here selling “pre-loved” goods. This is great for those who like to see things recycled rather than wasted, and those on a tight budget.

Would a secondhand present lead to tears into the turkey on Christmas morning? Well, when you look at the range and quality of the secondhand goods on offer in our town centre, I think buying secondhand is a viable option. Here are some of my favourites:

David’s Bookshop – Books, CDs and DVDs
We know we are very lucky to have an independent bookshop, let alone one so firmly embedded in the local community (though perhaps these attributes are not unconnected). Davids’ website boasts over 15,000 secondhand and antiquarian books! Here are just 3 types I really rate:
(1) Children’s books. Some are on the pavement, others by the children section itself. But my favourites are tucked in the room behind the service desk towards the back of the shop. I have bought several volumes in such beautiful condition that I’ve had to remind the staff that they are secondhand when they try to scan them at the till. Illustrated Alice in Wonderland or Peter Pan anyone? Brambly Hedge or the Flower Fairies? I have bought all of these and more in as-new condition for a fraction of the new price.
(2) Folio Society Books. The Folio Society produces beautifully bound and often illustrated version of classic books. If my dear dad were still with us, these would be high on my list of ideas for him this year (though I know I’ve given him them in the past). Again 1st class condition at pocket-money prices
(3) DVDs. At less than a night’s rental from Blockbuster down the road, what’s not to like? I have bought a selection of these for my husband this year. Saves him the trip out on a Saturday night and the hassle of working out what to get each time (basically, this way I get to choose.)
Funkydory – Children’s and Maternity Clothes, plus some toys
Found this little gem yet? Tucked away down The Wynd (now a lovely parade of shops, well worth some browsing time), Funkydory sells pre-loved quality clothes and toys. Now the children are getting older, clothes are not quite the easy stocking filler they once were, but an item in their favourite colour, or with Peppa Pig, Bob the Builder [replace to suit] can still delight. This is THE place to look (yes it’s true, we don’t have too many other choices for children’s clothes, but this shop would still be popular if we did).
Other places to try for second-hand presents: The Lavender Room (high quality ladies’ clothes and accessories, plus beautiful handmade soaps) on the Wynd; Just-for-Me (dress agency upstairs) Leys Avenue, Junk and Disorderly (furniture and bric-a-brac) on the Wynd; The Greenhouse Community Market on Station Road plus of course the many charity shops on Eastcheap and Leys Avenue. I’m sure I’ve missed places. Can you give a personal recommendation or share your finds by leaving a comment below? That would be great.

Surely it’s not just the price that counts, is it? If you are yet to be convinced that buying secondhand at Christmas isn’t cheapskate, or are worried that your nearest and dearest might be, then I have something for you: Transition Town Letchworth is holding an Alternative Christmas ideas exchange tomorrow night (Tuesday 27th November). Join others as we think through the theory and practice of having a Christmas which is both happy and ethically fulfilling.

Thanks for reading and happy shopping!


Letchworth Christmas Present Challenge – Second up, Secondhand! — 8 Comments

  1. I have made visits to Just – For – Me with many friends when visiting the town. The lovely scarves are very inexpensive and a great idea for small gifts for female friends,eh?

    • Thanks ever so much for the mention 🙂 funkydory also sells preloved maternity clothes 😉 I often have people commenting on the etiquette of buying secondhand as a gift….I say it’s time people appreciated the gift rather than what it cost!! Xxx

  2. Hi Camilla, Well this has been really inspirational. I had a fantastic shopping trip today. All local and on foot 🙂 W.H Smiths had some gel pens on special offer at £4.99 instead of £12 then the Mind shop had some really lovely things in there for present ideas. I bought a brand new blow up globe for Eleanor. A brand new Yankee Candle room fragrance and some DIY photo canvas that I’m going to make into presents for the family, so all in all a very successful trip. I also have a good list of things that I can get locally too. I’m hoping to make up a nice food hamper from Campbell and Toft and also some other ideas. If we really stop and think, rather than rushing straight for the obvious big named shops, there really is plenty of choice in the town 🙂

  3. Thank you very much for the mention. Your readers may like to know as well as Vintage and upcycled, we also have new gifts including Gisela Graham decorations and some JIG & PD Global gifts. Open Tuesday – Saturday 10.30 – 4.30 thanks again

  4. Hi, So far have spent two christmas shopping weekends around Letchworth; From Greenhouse Community Market I got a lovely white coat/hat stand, 2 Crystal paper weights in warm, pretty colours, a bedroom chair dolly = 3ft height and soft, a reindeer colouring book and pencils, and a brass horse.

    From the Jewellery box I invested in 2 pairs of earings, a piggy bank, a clutch bag.

    Wilcos – paper, christmas tree decorations (3 cones, 2 deer).

    Letchworth Arts Centre Craft Fair – I got 4 glasses decorated with christmas scene (not sure I will wine in – maybe table decoration), soaps, two bracelets.

    The Hospice Shop, cards.

  5. visited the Green House this week and purchased some beautiful crystal glass for Christmas gifts. The perfect place for that not-on-the-high-street special gift

  6. I went to the Greehouse market, and bought some beautiful Gisella graham christmas decorations very happy with them. I always love to have a wander around in there, you never know what hidden treasures lurk inside. I have bought some beautiful cake stands, tea cups & saucers, retro sewing things, fabrics, furniture & there is always new things to see weekly which keeps me addicted to visiting. A nice light & airy building bursting with unusual finds.

  7. Thanks to everyone who has commented here for all your great ideas. I think shopping locally can inspire us to be more creative with our gifts. Although this can take more time, I think often it results in a present which is more meaningful to the recipient too.