Brick By Brick Charity Shop, 388 Old Kent Road

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Saturday 10 November 2007 5.00pm
I have never walked the stretch of the OKR between Asda and Tesco before, until today, when I stumbled on this gem of a charity shop. It is a big shop, more in the style of Thrift Stores in the US than your normal high street charity shop. Even the goods seem more like the tchotchkes you get in American stores: old but still good kitchenware, piles of strange old Hungarian magazines from the 70s, random old but new goods in cool 60s packaging like polyester thermal t-shirts, pop socks, lipsticks and a Chinese "Pecking Cocks" toy, which I am buying for my smuttier friends for Christmas.

The project and the shop are run by the formidable Alexander Gravenstein, whose name I have just discovered from the leaflet he gave me today, and from the Brick By Brick website, and he is a great SE1 character. He really is a lost Little Britain character, with his long plait and Rrrrrrussian accent, and his habit of telling you off for even glancing at goods that don't concern you: "It's too big" he yelled at a fellow shopper who was trying on a leather coat. And I got told off for leaving the hangers askew as I browsed, and for peering down the women's aisle.

The charity works to provide housing for homeless people and seems like a fantastic organisation. Certainly, the shop is a real find for connoisseurs of charity shops -- and eccentric people.

I came out with a Ben Sherman shirt, some thermal gloves and Piers Morgan's scurrilous diaries.
Monday 12 November 2007 10.03am
This place sounds great. My wife (from Utah) is always talking about the big thrift stores out there. Must give it a visit.

Do they take donations (of clothes, shoes, books, VHS tapes, CD's)?
Monday 12 November 2007 8.38pm
It is not quite like a big Goodwill in the US, but is twice the size of a normal chazza.

I am sure they would be glad of donations. The charity has a website at
Tuesday 13 November 2007 9.12am
I've got loads of old books at home, do you reckon they'll except these ???
Tuesday 13 November 2007 10.47am
I've just been looking at the website - those building projects look amazing. It really shows what can be started by one person making a phenomenal effort.
Tuesday 13 November 2007 11.04am
It's great to know that their collectors are all volunteers. The big official Charities pay about 95.00 a day to their collectors.

I heard a nice story yesterday concerning the beggars in the subway at Elephant a chinese food place came down and gave a large tray of left over food to them. Thats my sort of help too.
Tuesday 13 November 2007 8.40pm
Jan the old one wrote:
I heard a nice story yesterday concerning the beggars in the subway at Elephant a chinese food place came down and gave a large tray of left over food to them. Thats my sort of help too.

I hope it was Dragon Castle and not Tai Tip Mein. No one is *that* hungry.
Wednesday 14 November 2007 8.04am
Dragon Castle freebie? now I would plonk meself down in a subway for that one! having said that I have not been yet will treat myself for my birthday.
Wednesday 14 November 2007 11.44am
Gaffa and Kara, I am sure they will be happy to accept donations, but do give them a ring and check before you shlep everything down there.

I also just discovered a Romanian grocery shop on that stretch of the Old Kent Road.
Friday 16 November 2007 12.12am
I live very near this charity shop and have been donating lots of stuff and going there for years !

I love rummaging through charity shops for gems and I have to say this one on old kent road is one of the tidiest and neatest one I've been to.

Yeah..the old guy is a bit grumpy but he's generally very nice. I like chatting with him for a bit whenever I'm in there..... and through our conversations I gathered that he has an obsession with straight lines and being tidy... a bit like having OCD ?? And I guess that explains why the shop is so tidy and well kept ! Everything is really well organised ! Definitely worth a visit !
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