Friday, 29 January 2010
Dead and Disorderly
For two years the ‘Dead Shop’, or as it prefers to brand itself, ‘Mr Ryan’s World Famous Second Hand Store’, has been my best kept secret. Crumbling decadently at the end of Oldham Street in the Northern Quarter, sprouting shrubbery from second and third floor windows, it is assumedly decades since the Victorian monolith drew in crowds deviating from the occasional scavenging hobo and tentative student.
With a brazen promise to offer no item with a price of more than three pounds, the enigmatic ‘Mr Ryan’ compromises by selling stock that often appears to have been reclaimed from skips and ditches, often presenting items on hangers with visible tears and sinister stains. I should mention at this point that the stench of death upon entering the building is adequate to shatter any preconceptions of decaying elegance: The Dead Shop specialises in shell suits and flattened shoes, yet do not let this waver your determination. The somewhat distracting façade of the shop merely serves to repel retro-seeking hipsters lacking the perseverance and moral fibre essential to uncover a true vintage treasure, leaving the bulk of the stock intact and ready to be rifled by necrophiles such as myself. Some of my greatest purchases have included an adorable 1960s white polyester top with a peter pan collar for a pound, mountains of pretty white cotton eighties blouses and another sixties pussy-bow blouse. The former I kept for myself but the others were flogged on eBay, all reaching final prices in excess of eight pounds. Although the jewel in the crown is undoubtedly the ruched fuscia-pink 1980s cocktail dress I rescued for a paltry three pounds (pictured below). Other gems can also be uncovered in metal trollies full of patterned scarves and occasionally the pantomine-style garments hanging from the ceiling can prove to be show stopping. As if this wasn’t reason enough to venture in, the gruff cashier is willing to round prices down so as to avoid the ‘unlucky number thirteen’ and so it would appear, ladies and gentlemen, superstition, the afterlife and thrift can go hand in hand.