Who needs Poundland when you can pick up bargains for under £1 at your local charity shop?
While these purchases will be second-hand, and may not be in mint condition, they will be:
- recycled/re-used By buying second-hand you are extending the life of an item, and preventing it from being sent to landfill.
- giving to a good cause By purchasing from a High Street charity shop you are donating to a good cause.
- unique The slightly chipped teacup that you bought for 50p could become a talking point!
- not wrapped in plastic So many brand new, cheap items seem to come shrink wrapped in plastic wrapping that can’t be recycled.
- more durable I really believe that many second-hand goods have a far longer shelf life than cheaply manufactured plastic goods. There’s a reason why they cost so little. How many things have we bought from bargain shops that have broken almost immediately after use? I’ve written here about my struggle with cheaply made children’s clothing.
There are many other reasons to shop second-hand (I’ve listed them here) . Whenever I’m looking for a household item, book, game or clothing my first port of call is to scour the local charity shops.
In the past few days I have bought these two albums for 25p each from the Dorothy House shop (I could have bought three for 50p but couldn’t find another one). Despite being in the bargain bucket the records are in good condition:
I also stumbled across some cotton reels for 50p each from a local second-hand shop, just when I needed new cotton for sewing projects:
Of course it’s not always possible to buy items for under £1 at charity shops. In fact some of them can be downright pricey, charging more than certain High Street stores for their clothing (although as I mentioned above their second-hand garments probably last longer). But there are ways to source cheap goodies from charity shops:
- get to know the charity shops in your town, and get to know which town has the cheapest shops. My nearest town for charity shopping is the Georgian city of Bath. It’s a great place to go for second-hand shopping as there are some very well-dressed people who donate their cast-offs to the likes of us (read my guide here). However an expensive town can mean pricey charity shops. In some of them it’s not unusual to see dresses selling for a tenner, and that’s without the ‘vintage’ label which usually doubles the price tag. Having said that, as I regularly trawl the charity shops in the city I know which ones are cheaper. For example I recently bought this wonderful denim dress for a fiver from the British Heart Foundation shop:
- look for end of season sales Just as High Street chains have their own end of season reductions, many charity shops will reduce their prices at certain times of the year too.
- rummage through the bargain bucket Nearly all charity shops have bargain bins or sales rails. Sometime this is because they have a surfeit of donations of a particular type. In my local market town the Dorothy House hospice shop and British Red Cross store often have reductions on their books.
- volunteer Most charity shops need volunteers and, by working in the shop, you’ll get to see the stock that comes in. Some charity shops also offer staff/volunteer discounts (see here for more information on how charity shops are run)
- remember that the price also includes a donation Even if you think the price of an item is steep please don’t haggle. Remember that the money you spend in a charity shop goes back to that cause.
And finally…. if you purchase from a charity shop please consider donating your unwanted (good quality) items back to them to complete the cycle.