Charity / Fashion

Oxfam York – Bridal Boutique

As some friends and family will already know, I was down in Yorkshire last week visiting my family and friends. Later in the week I went with my mum to York. We were ravenous by the time we arrived and practically burst into the first cafe we stumbled upon, entering Monk Gate panting and begging for food. Well, that’s how it felt anyway. Purely by fluke the establishment we chose was sublime and offered some of the most delicious Italian food I have ever tasted. It is called Little Italy, and the seating area is upstairs. Again by chance, the seating area offers a great view of the Oxfam store across the street, and I had spied what looked to be a full on Bridal Boutique on their upstairs floor.

Oxfam, Goodramgate, York with a bridal boutique on the first floor

It is hard to see the dresses from this photograph, but you can spy one in the bottom window, and a full skirt in the top window. You will have to take my word for it that there is a huge rail of them visible in the right hand window also. Once entering the store, in order to gain access to this floor you must ask at the desk and you will be escorted upwards by a member of staff who stays with you, ensuring that you will have a level of service usually reserved for exclusive boutiques and shops.

I asked if I could photograph the dresses, and as is normal I was referred to the manager. I very much enjoy when this happens as I can have a lengthy discussion with them about their store and their passion for the charity itself. This was no less than expected and the manager was a lovely gentleman, only too happy to allow me to photograph his products.

Wedding dresses hung in grouped sizes, Oxfam, Monk Gate, York

The store had a selection of 2m rails, each catering to a different size group. An enormous collection of gowns in sizes from 8 to 16, and possibly a couple of 18’s and 20’s thrown in for good measure. There was every colour and style imaginable. Upon discussing this with the manager, he explained that all the dresses donated within the North East area of Oxfam make their way here, as a sort of Bridal destination store, and they have had brides from as far afield as Newcastle in their search for the perfect gown.

Not only did they have an astounding selection of wedding dresses, but their bridesmaids dresses were also abundant, in every colour you could think of, and some were duplicates, suggesting that all the bridesmaids had donated their dresses together.

In addition to the hundreds of dresses available here, there are a selction of bridal shoes and gorgeous little outfits for flower girls too.

They have dressed up the floor to give it a lovely boutique feel, and they assured me that they have plans of redecorating the floor too, to enhance the bridal experience and heighten its reputation as a destination store for all things bride.

I think you’ll all agree that they made a fabulous effort so far, and even without further intervention this would still be an amazing place.

What makes this all the more incredible is that when the manager first took over this was a storage area filled with rickety and unstable shelving. It has now been transformed in to a very worthwhile venture. I would recommend that all brides, whether searching for a bargain or not, visit this store. York itself is a very good place to visit if looking for inspiration for your wedding, a destination of choice for many hen and stag parties at least, so a very good location for a bridal destination store.

The staff there told me that they would be only too happy to send me some photo’s once the renovation was complete so I could treat this very much as a before and after project, and would love to show you what they do with the place.

Also, if you’re holding on to your wedding dress and you’re thinking of what to do with it, you could consider donating it to Oxfam as it will be well cared for, and eventually make someone else’s day that little bit more special.


8 thoughts on “Oxfam York – Bridal Boutique

  1. This comment was left my Barbara on my ‘About Me’ page:

    Hello Megan,
    My name is Barbara Walmsley and I am rather grandly called the Volunteer Bridal Co-ordinator for Oxfam. I started Oxfam Bridal from my back bedroom in 1985 and am constantly thrilled as we expand more and more. I don’t work from home anymore but we have 12 departments, (11 in the UK and 1 in Dublin). My role is to try and source as much stock as possible and keep in contact with all the departments. We are thrilled that you have given us such a glowing recommendation and are very grateful. What most people don’t realise is that most of our stock comes from bridal shops after their sales so has only been tried on by potential brides in the shop. Of course we are always very grateful for donations from ex-brides as well. Our advantages are that we have a wide range of stock from many different sources, our prices are very competitive and our volunteer staff will take a great deal of trouble to help a bride choose a dress with no hard sell involved. The bride who buys from us also knows that her action means that some desperately poor people will have their lives made a lot easier. That’s a happy thought to take with you to your wedding!

    Very useful information I think we would all agree! Just goes to show that buying in charity shops doesn’t always mean you’re buying second hand! And a lovely sentiment to finish.

    Thank you Barbara

  2. I am amazed at the praise given here, though I did visit in 2013 not 2012 so perhaps it was all change after the rave reviews. I likewise visited Little Italy and saw the bridal floor of Oxfam, however on visiting the shop my experience was somewhat different. There were many dresses but most were filthy with food, dust and other stains. The prices were also very high, I selected 4 dresses to try on and all cost over £500. One in particular I did like the style but it had a run the material right down the front through to waist, however I was interested in seeing if it could be repaired. The price ticket was £600 and the manager was prepared to reduce the cost by 10%. I walked away and will never recommend the Ofam bridal shop to anyone else. I thankfully paid far less for a brand new dress that was fabulous on the day.

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