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How to Shop Charity: Corygal's Insider Guide

(26 Posts)
Corygal1 Wed 03-Feb-16 12:58:29

Greetings! In response to y'all asking for tips, here are mine, as a long-standing charity shop volunteer, chief clothes sorter, vintage diva and all-round cheapskate...

1. Little and often. Keep an eye out for what is good, don't be focused only on what you need.

2. Find out which day in the week the charity shop you like changes their stock, and attend accordingly. They will change the day every now and then to fox you.

3. The quality of the stock depends on the area not the name of the shop. It's not just the local donations from the naice houses; big chains - eg Cancer, BHF - deliver stock appropriate to that area.

4. And now the reverse: the pricing of the stock depends on the name of the shop not the area. Big chains have price lists to follow, independents do their own thing. Eg BHF are hideously expensive, Sally Army dirt cheap. This means that the same pair of boots, say, will be 30 quid in BHF and 4 in Sally Army.

5. If you really can't afford something, ask for a discount. As someone who works for charity, this annoys me, but I get it and so do most decent people. I always give them.

6. Focus on flicking through the types of garments you wear, not the whole shop. Dresses and knitwear are always good, as are shoes.

7. Never buy old tee shirts or trousers. FGS. HM/Primark cheaper. What you want are clothes that have been discarded because they have only been worn once, not because they are knackered. Sounds obvious, but you'd be amazed.

8. Occasionwear is cracking, much better than everyday clothes usually. The discards/never worn tend to be: dresses, jackets, smart stuff & shoes.

9. Never spend more than a tenner on an item: beyond that, it's real money. I won't do it.

10. Wash it when you get home. A lot of shops don't steam their stock any more, so it needs refreshing. And relax...

Smellyrose Wed 03-Feb-16 13:10:19

Thanks Corygal, I'll refer to this next time I go charity shopping.

I popped into a shop today (Oxfam, I think) and noticed their clothes items were all £4.99 or £6.99, as you mentioned in point 4, I assume all Oxfam shops would be the same price.

The only thing in my size that a liked was a pair of jeans, but I was wary as I know jeans can lose their shape so was worried it was an old, discarded, no longer suitable pair.

rageagainsttheBIL Wed 03-Feb-16 14:07:02

In the last year or so I've got a Chloe silk blouse, dress from the Outnet with labels still on, a Splendid shrug cardigan, a pair of Joseph trousers, a Fat Face summer dress and a BNWT silk dress by M&S autograph plus pairs of Kurt Geiger and Hobbs shoes. Nothing cost more than £5. I love charity shops!

SqueegyBeckinheim Wed 03-Feb-16 14:18:54

I don't mind spending more than £10 on some things, for example a full length wool coat in good condition. I had a beatiful, vintage full length grey wool coat which I paid £13 pounds for. I wore it everyday during winter for four years running until It literally fell apart at the seams from wear. I still mourn that coat. sad

RickOShay Wed 03-Feb-16 14:44:23

Thanks corygal. I love charity shops, and usually wear at least one item every day that is from one. Little and often is the way forward.

nickEcave Wed 03-Feb-16 15:57:40

I'm a dedicated charity shopper. I disagree with point 7 about trousers when it comes to designer jeans. On all other points I concur grin. Just want to add that when I was size 8-10 I used to get the most amazing designer bargains. Now I'm a 12-14, rather less so!

RemusLupinsBiggestGroupie Wed 03-Feb-16 19:28:40

I actually disagree with number one. I go in with a couple of items in mind and search accordingly. If I didn't need/want a yellow silk Chloe blouse or a green cashmere coatigan, however much of a 'bargain' it is, it actually isn't a bargain at all - just something that I didn't really need and probably won't wear much because it isn't what I'd identified as a gap in my wardrobe, or item that needed replacing or updating.

RemusLupinsBiggestGroupie Wed 03-Feb-16 19:30:39

Rage Sorry - the silk blouse reference wasn't directed at you btw: it must have entered my head subliminally as I can't even remember having noticed your post before writing mine. grin No idea why 'my' silk blouse became a yellow one, either!

elephantoverthehill Wed 03-Feb-16 19:43:32

Thank you Corygal for starting this thread. I consider myself to be a little knowledgeable about Charity shops having used them a lot wink. You forgot the school uniform on your list and baby clothes that have only been worn twice. I also have bought at least 5 pairs of Levi 501s from charity shops found in the men's section.

Corygal1 Wed 03-Feb-16 20:29:49

Remus I am in awe of your precision re specific items. TBH if I don't wear something, I donate it back - racks that feelgood factor up.

mrslebon Wed 03-Feb-16 21:09:00

Great tips - thanks Corygal! Another thing I tend to do is focus on colours. Some charity shops e.g. my local Cancer Research Shop organise their rails by colour. I rarely wear pink or black so just ignore those rails.

rageagainsttheBIL Wed 03-Feb-16 21:59:07

Remus the Chloe silk blouse I had WAS yellow! (It doesn't fit me now so I got rid) have you been spying on me??

evelynj Thu 04-Feb-16 09:13:56

YY to the baby and children's clothes. My son has just turned 6 - I've got a couple of lovely Ralph Lauren shirts that were 50p each that will fit him now, (I bought them 3 years ago). It is only now that I'm running out of clothes for him - children's clothes in charity shops are in abundance up until about age 4. With him & dd since they've been born, I've bought any childrens clothes that I absolutely love right up to age 8 to grow into - just because I had to give myself a cut off point somewhere! because all their stuff has been charity shop I have to clutch my pearls when paying for pants and socks in the supermarket for them as it seems so expensive in comparison!

CointreauVersial Thu 04-Feb-16 13:17:52

Great list - I totally agree with the "little and often". I think charity shops get better and better every year - I never cease to be amazed at what's available (and even more amazed by people whose opinion is stuck in the dark ages, and who won't go near charity shops because they think they are stuffed with "old lady clothes").

Disagree on trousers, though. If you work in an office, like me, charity shops are a godsend for classic tailored trousers - the sort that wear and wash well, and stay in fashion. Ditto shirts - they never really date or wear out. My fave pair of white skinny jeans (Mint Velvet) came from BHF.

Teeshirts/jersey/acrylic knits - I agree - very rarely do I find anything in decent condition, so I avoid.

It's worth noting that some charity shops "know" the value of a label, and others don't. Cancer Research and BHF here are stuffed with LK Bennett, Boden, Jaeger, Hobbs etc; Cancer Research price accordingly, but BHF don't seem to. That's where the bargains are.

Lastly, you say pricing depends on the chain....but BHF in our naice MC town tends to price a lot higher than the branch in the large "low-income" town 20 miles away.

Corygal1 Thu 04-Feb-16 13:20:34

Kids' clothes can be a cracker, even third time round. Also fancy dress.

RemusLupinsBiggestGroupie Thu 04-Feb-16 18:36:04

Rage I haven't been spying on you but I think I might need to buy a lottery ticket this weekend, as I clearly have some sort of sixth sense! grin

IfYoureHappyAndYouKnowIt Thu 04-Feb-16 23:50:22

Agree on little and often.

I also think that so much depends upon the shop and the area. In my neighbourhood the Mary Portas shop is fabulous. Cost wise it's not much cheaper than the second hand shop 100 metres away. Not a lot for under a tenner but some great stock. New stuff on the shelves every day. Have bought unworn party dresses and boots and much more. I try to go in there three or four times a week.

Agree that it's good to focus on gaps. Years ago I made the mistake of buying things because they were cheap. You still need to love them though. Even if they are cheap I won't wear them personally unless they are as good as my new clothes.

Corygal1 Fri 05-Feb-16 10:46:00

No, certainly not. That's the whole point: you want bargain, not cheap. That's what charity shops deliver - compensates for the hunting and risk of old-lady smell.

Floisme Fri 05-Feb-16 10:46:44

I'm surprised some people think they're getting better. I used to go round the charity shops with Methuselah and I don't think they've ever been worse than they are now.

It's good to hear there's still some stuff out there but it's not round here. Everyone's on Ebay.

Floisme Fri 05-Feb-16 10:50:18

Anyway after that old-lady comment, I'm off. No need for it.

Corygal1 Sat 06-Feb-16 12:14:23

OLd ladies always welcome in my world. grin

Corygal1 Sat 06-Feb-16 21:53:33

Scored a pair of unworn Russell & bromley loafers today for a pound, o yay.

dudsville Sat 06-Feb-16 22:14:16

I found two fabulous "like new" jackets last year. They were dry clean only but since I only paid £4 ish each for them I just put them in the washing machine. They came out perfect!

Ragwort Sat 06-Feb-16 22:21:18

Make friends with the staff & volunteers - I work in a charity shop & look out for stuff for my 'regular' customers, have a couple on speed dial so I let them know when stuff comes in that I think they will like. smile. In return they tend to donate their stuff to my shop.

candykane25 Sat 06-Feb-16 22:53:28

I love charity shops but I can't get to them often. A lot of charities have EBay pages which are great for furniture too.

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