The title gives it away really but I feel like there has been sufficient demand for this post because people often marvel at my ‘Recent Charity Shop Buys’ So today I am going to try and share with you my top tips for charity shop shopping. *Pause* and grab a cuppa and a few dunkin’ biscuits because it’s a bit word heavy…but I have thought long and hard about these so I hope they give you the tools to go out there and find a bargain.
- Be Persistent – In order to get the good bargains you have to be persistent. You can’t go in once a year and expect miracles. But by no means am I saying go every week. You should try and pop in at least once a month so that you can see the new items on the shop floor. Charity shops are very seasonal too and you’ll often find around Halloween, Christmas or Easter they will put out seasonal items such as clothes, games, decorations, easter baskets etc and if you go in monthly you’ll be able to get the good stuff before it goes.
- Find your Local Favourite – this might seem like an obvious tip, but it is important to know the charity shops in your area and have a personal ranking of what ones you like. For example when I go home I know I will go straight to the Bordon Care Shop, then suss out the Liphook shops AND then I would go and see the ones in Haslemere maybe popping into Grayshott on the way. To some of you that will make absolutely no sense but the point is you need to find a few in your area, maybe around five and try and check these out each month.
- Actually look through the rails – at first glance all you will see is a bunch of other people’s tat. That’s essentially what it is but you know how the saying goes…one man’s junk is another man’s treasure…It is important that you properly look through the rails, piece by piece. Often charity shops organise by colour so you know you can skip the yellow rail or the pink rail if that’s not what suits you. Often people say to me “I can’t believe you find all this stuff in charity shops, I never find anything” and the answer is… because you probably aren’t looking properly or you just not willing to give pieces of clothing a chance. So carefully look through the rails, try and take the clothes out of the drab context and into your wardrobe.
- Search for Brands you know – charity shops are the best places to scoop up brands, especially in London. The Oxfam in Notting Hill and on Portobello Road are swimming in designer and high-street brands like Zara and Topshop, often the clothes will be in good condition too. My advice is to never buy anything from Primark because i feel like that’s almost defeating the point. Search for items that probably had quite a high retail value. One of my favourite charity shop finds was a Max Mara Tweed coat. I am super excited to bring it back this season, as it is now ‘on trend’ again!
- Look at the quality of the clothing – this is important. Charity shop shopping is fun and if you do it well, dress it up well you will look fab in an outfit that cost £5. BUT – if the clothing is already super worn, there is a tear or pull in it then it’s not worth getting. It doesn’t matter if its cashmere but has a slight rip in it you’ll probably never wear it or even get round to sewing it up. However, if something looks a little dirty don’t be afraid to buy it and wash it when you get home. It will look ten times better.
- The best things to look for: tend to be tops, jumpers, vintage jeans and skirts, jackets and coats. I recommend not buying shoes as they always tend to be very worn and obviously don’t buy the underwear/bras/pyjamas because that’s a bit too personal. What also is often overlooked in charity shops is the homeware! Definitely check that out…once I got a set of 6 wine glasses for £2 and very nice they were too!
- Its not about basics: if your hunting around charity shops for basics then I’m not sure your going about this the right way. Charity shops are full of bizarre, quirky items. You don’t have to end up looking like Mary Poppin’s carpet bag but try and get a vintage/modern balance.
- Try stuff on: That’s why there are changing rooms, try it on definitely. You can’t really return clothes to charity shops, so if those jeans are way too big then that’s just wasted money!
- Bring cash! – Lots of charity shops are still cash only! Now now… this isn’t something to scorn at, when their average price of clothing is £2-£3 and the people that work there are volunteers, its okay that their payment systems aren’t as up to date as Apple Pay but hey I have given you the heads up!
- Charity shops I would recommend: St John’s Wood High St: Oxfam and St. John’s Hospice. Marylebone High St: Oxfam and Cancer Research. Wimbledon Village: Oxfam and Cancer Research. Goodge Street: Oxfam and YMCA. Notting Hill (Westbourne Grove): Oxfam (Portobello): Cancer Research and Oxfam Books. George Street near Bond Street: Barnardo’s and Geranium Shop for the Blind Beckenham High St: British Heart Foundation, Scope and Cancer Research. Haslemere High St: Oxfam and Haslemere Care Shop (Phyllis Tuckwell – Wey Hill) . Liphook Station Parade: Oxfam. Grayshott: Cancer Research and Sue Ryder. Bordon (Pinehill): Bordon Care Shop and YMCA. Godalming/Guildford/Cobham/Esher have loads too!
I would also love to know if you have any charity shop recommendations!! Xxx