From the rising cost of living to the lack of department stores in Aberdeen, styling your home can prove tricky.
Social media would have you believe that a shiny expensive pad is the norm, but how can you achieve similar when you’re on a budget?
Step forward Maggie Lenahan, who can magic up the perfect sofa for your living room or that quirky ornament that you never knew you needed.
But Maggie is not an interior designer, although her stylish window display might say otherwise.
Proudly at the helm of Bosies on Justice Street in the city centre, Maggie has been manager of the breast cancer charity since it launched 11 years ago.
From a small family-run initiative to an award-winning charity with a passionate army of volunteers, Bosies has rapidly become something of an institution.
You never quite know what you’ll find when you go in, and it’s safe to say that Maggie is kept busy.
Our interview halts several times as she greets an eager customer, and she of course knows all the regulars by name.
Aside from enabling people to furnish their homes and fill their wardrobes at a fraction of the cost, Bosies has a poignant story.
It was founded by Maggie and her daughter in tribute to Maggie’s sister, Wendy Singfield, who passed away from cancer.
Maggie has also battled the disease, as have many of the volunteers who help out.
After undergoing a mastectomy, Maggie received the all-clear, and was determined to give back.
To date, Bosies has raised around £100,000, with the cash going towards the breast cancer research clinic and ward 42 at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.
Keeping the team busy
We caught up with the incredible team, and found out why they’re more in demand than ever.
“I absolutely love what I do, and I’m passionate about helping other women who have been diagnosed,” said Maggie.
“There’s around five of us in the team who have faced breast cancer, with 12 volunteers in total.
“I’ve always been an avid shopper in charity shops, and having worked in retail I knew I’d be able to run a charity shop well.
“In 2019 we were awarded the best charity shop in Scotland at The Scotland Business Awards.
“That was wonderful, to have that recognition.
“It was an achievement and it felt like all our hard work had paid off.”
Step across the threshold, and you’ll find everything from clothing to linen, furniture and those all important knick-knacks which can make a house into a home.
“People donate wonderful things to us,” said Maggie.
“The public is so generous and you often think oh my goodness, why would you get rid of this?
“I think a lot of Aberdonians like to know that their money is staying in Aberdeen.
“Originally it would be older women coming into the shop. Occasionally they’d have a teenage granddaughter with them, who would of course be mortified to be seen in here.
“Students come in all the time now, just the other day we had some girls in buying pinnies.
“It was the kind of thing my mum used to wear, and the girls thought they were terrific.”
With homeware stores such as John Lewis closing down, Maggie believes Bosies has benefited.
“I don’t think there are many places where you can come to see homeware, at least in Aberdeen,” she said.
“In comparison, we offer things at a fraction of the price and it can even be brand new with the tags still on.
Cost of living
“In today’s society, people are more and more aware of what they can afford to spend.”
There is also the added bonus that no one will have that same ornament or lamp as you.
“It’s not like in Ikea, where the whole shelf is full of the same product,” said Maggie.
“You can come in here and you’ll find the one and only item, and realise it would go perfect in your hall.
“When people come in, they say that the shop doesn’t look like a charity shop.
“We try to keep things neat and tidy, and we get so much good feedback.
“I think the stigma and attitude of shopping in a charity shop is disappearing.
“You see charity shops on TV, and we get some beautiful items all the time.
“You can quite easily furnish your home from top to bottom, with items that have come from a charity shop.”
Power of volunteers
Like with any charity, it is of course the hard work of the volunteers which has helped Maggie create a wonderful atmosphere.
It’s not just the bargains which have brought back repeat customers, but the rapport.
“There’s always a good atmosphere in here, and our volunteers have become such good friends thanks to working in here,” said Maggie.
“One of our volunteers recently retired, and she’s really missing the shop. She’s 85 years old!
“Sometimes items come in the door, and go back out to a new home the same day. We offer a delivery service as well, which is always helpful.
“We tend to only keep things for three weeks, it can be hard to predict what people love sometimes.
“We can get an item and think we’ll never sell that. Then it gets snapped up.”