The days of pretending to make a phone call and then disappearing into a charity shop when no one is looking is fast behind us – and so it should be! If you’ve never been into a charity shop in your life, then you’re missing out on using your creative juices or owning something that could be uniquely you.
Championing the ‘Bowie’ in us in this day and age lets us take charge of our own individuality. Charity shops give us this freedom in a way no other shopping outlet can.
I love charity shops. I fancy myself a charity aficionado! I’m a massive fan. Once I spot a charity shop, that’s it! If you want to annoy me, call me when I’m in a charity shop: I can become instant enemies with anyone who gets in the way of my charity shopping experience.
But charity shopping is a skill not everyone possesses. But you can do it! It does take some patience and an educated eye, but here are a few tips to bear in mind when rummaging through the clutter in the hunt for treasure:
The best charity shops are in decent locations (and that’s a fact), so don’t waste your time looking in the wrong areas, as the most you’ll find is Primark, which will cost you the same price brand new if you went to Primark to buy it.
Change your mindset. If the thought of charity shopping feels you with dread, be prepared to be proved wrong. Not by anyone, but buy yourself! Give yourself a chance and walk in, take a deep breath and make your way through each rail – and I mean each rail, or you might miss something truly amazing.
Patience is a gift when shopping in charity shops. Especially for a charity virgin. Your initial goal is to familiarise yourself with what a charity shop can offer. There’s also likely to be many more charity shops in the area, so make a day of it. That said, there are of course ..
If you’re on a lunch hour break and are just browsing, looking for nothing, as I was last week. Arriving at Camden High Street, I walked briskly towards a barber’s shop, navigating my way through all the hustle and bustle that Camden brings. My hair appointment was at 11:30, which took the best part of 20 mins, but in between the small talk and the clippers, my hair was done by 11:50.
I hurried back to Camden station to catch my train, but quickly walked into the ‘Mind in Camden’ charity shop. Blatantly aware that I’d less than 40 mins between my appointment and getting to my office in Liverpool Street for a 1pm meeting, I aggressively scanned each rail, looking for nothing but something that’d eventually reveal itself. A classic Yves Saint Laurent navy blue tailored blazer in excellent condition and amazingly current popped out at me. They don’t make such treasures now, and if they did it’d cost you no less than £400 on sale. The tag said £10 and I was in heaven. Without acting too excited, I hurriedly paid for it and dashed out of the shop. Back in the office and bragging about my latest find, one of my colleagues was prepared to pay £100 for it, but I smugly said ‘no’ because I knew what it was worth to my wardrobe – priceless!
Be creative. There’s no doubt that stylish hidden gems can be found in charity shops, but there are more ugly finds than good and bad, so do keep an open mind and think laterally whilst buying with the aim of reinventing.
Guilt-free shopping. Your budget, or the lack of it, can get you a few items you would never be able to afford on the high street. Don’t wait to save £100s – take a tenner with you and surprise yourself.
It’s a worthy cause – know that your contribution is going towards something important. The feel-good factor is amazing…trust me.
Uniquely you. You’ll be an individual, if only for one day, knowing that you can stand alone in that unique piece.
Manage your expectations. Don’t expect miracles, because you could pop in and find nothing. On another day, you could be wowed by some of the many delicious items on offer.
Respect your charity. Most of the workers are volunteers, so please help make their job easier by putting the clothes back on the rails after you’ve tried them on.