How To Shop At Charity Shops Like A Pro



A lifetime again, I wrote a post on shopping at charity shops but I felt it needed a good dust off. Not that much has changed, I still love thrifting and I think with all that's going on in the world reusing is the way forward. You don't have to solo shop in them, but even buying the old pieces makes a massive impact. Your not only giving some money towards a great cause, your saving items from being thrown away. Some assume that there's no really thought that goes into charity shopping, but if you stop seeing it as a junk yard and more as a treasure hunt I promise you will find some amazing things. 

So let's jump straight into it ...





Things I recommend having in your bag: 

  • Change as not all shops have working card machines
  • A donation card some run schemes, if you bring so many bags to the shop you can get a discount. One shop I go to has a donation card, where you get a stamp per bag, 10 bags of unwanted goods = £5 discount.
  • Making Lookbooks via Pinterest or maybe a hit list of things you want/need. Start thinking about what you actual want to add to your wardrobe or home. Maybe have this on your phone or just written down. It's great to pop in by chance, but pros go in with a real idea of what they really want. 
  • Wet wipes for shoes and bags, if they are marked some come off but some may not. This is a quick way to see. Also hand gel is also a winner.
  • The Ikea blue bag - This has been my life, I have carried mirrors and all sorts in mine they are super strong and cheap. But any strong bag will do, this one is just great for bigger items. This cuts out the worry of possible damage to items if they don't fit in bags. 
  • Socks if your not wearing any, than you can't try on shoes. I usual given items a good clean before I wear them, trainers get throw in my washing machine in an old pillow case (bicarbonate soda is great for cleaning shoes and making them smell like new) but check what fabrics they are made from first. 

Pin What you love- I find making Pinterest boards before I go shopping gives me a clear idea of what I'm going to look for. It doesn't have to be exact, but it will help you narrow the search quicker and stop you buying for the sake. Plus it's great to compare images on your phone, to see ways you can style it. Example - Corset tops, pin items you have seen in store, street style images and your favourite looks on of 'corset tops'. Or you could carry an A3 piece of cardboard around old skull style, with your hopes and dreams on it but let's be real it's 2017 put that technically to work.  This will be a life line trust me, I found I use pins for everything. 


See It's Potential- don't right an item off, you don't have to shop your size and forget about gender. If you see an oversized dress, you could always belt it. A top that is plain may look amazing with the right statement necklace, I also refer to my pinterest broad to see what 'look' I want and items I need. Don't be afraid to have ideas with an item, there are 'how to' on studding, changing colour and heaps of other things on Youtube. Make sure if you are going to buy something for a D.I.Y, that you don't leave it and forget about it. Same with getting an item adjusted, take those trousers to be turned up ASAP and consider the extra cost or there's no point. 


Try It On-  as it may look one way on the hanger, and do nothing for you on. I find jeans, trousers also vintage items are always a must as they can be labelled as being your size and not fit, or say a smaller size and fit like a glove. Which can be a pain, as like in different high street stores size will vary but don't let it put you off. You can also see if you would actual wear it, it may seem like a great idea buying a top for a print or colour but if the shape is no good or has no potential leave it. The idea is to get a bargain, not spending a heap on items that don't fit that you won't wear, charity shops may be cheap but it will soon add up. If you don't try it on, most stores will swap items for you. But if your stuck with something, why not hold a swap shop party with friends. 

Basics -why pay a stupid amount on the high street for a vest top, charity shops are loaded with basics that you will use in your everyday wear. Grey vest tops are a great one to look out for, they go with everything and are easy to wash unlike white ones. I use to shop out of season, I always stocked up on summer vests in winter and jumpers in summer. I have no storage a the moment, but if you do this is great for sorting your wardrobe. Again think about what you will wear, when shopping out of season it's good to shop what you need rather than always for trends. A black cardigan is another great basic, and is a classic to have in your wardrobe. Saying that yellow is the 'it' colour so I'm switching all my basics up. 

My latest finds from Sue Ryder

Check it out-  have a look inside for the care label, how do you clean it? Is it dry clean only again consider the extra costs. Also for holes and rips and general wear, I always look over an item as sometimes people have donated things because of small faults. Usually the ones I go to will send items like this to be ragged, but every charity shop is different so slow down and check it over. Sometimes it can give an item character, other times it's best to leave it if it ends up on your (never) to do list. 

Something special- sometimes you will find thee most random things, I always love looking at vases and bric-a-brac. You can use things like a cake stands for jewellery display, and vases for your makeup brushes again this comes back to seeing it's potential. Also you will see the way out there clothing, like a sequin jump-suit or something these are perfect for if your going to festivals or want something crazy for your closet (it doesn't always have to be something you will wear everyday). Books and games are always great to go through. I like to buy cookbooks and vintage board games I can play with my family. Think about what sparks joy in you, maybe you want to travel, or fancy a funny read. Ask to check game pieces before purchase, and most books are usually in great condition.

Ask around- I often will ask in a charity shop, if there are any more in the area. I now have a mental database of which shops have the best things depending on what I'm shopping for (yes I have a problem I know but I love them). Some may have rubbish clothing, but great homeware. Some may be better for vintage finds, while others are more fairly priced. If your really struggling than search online for your local stores, or ask friends who may know of some that aren't are just outside your local area. 


Don't forget that once you have your purchased items to give them a good clean, I always wash clothing at the recommend temperature and wash vases etc.. in soapy water. It gets rid of the musky smell and you don't know who has had it before you, again I do this with clothing from the high street too as people try on things (trust me I've worked on fitting rooms in the pass). It will put your mind at ease, if your worried about germs. Why not try shopping the online charity shops if you don't have one near, OxfamMind and Sue Ryder all have online shops. The items will be clearly photographed with details listed, you can find those hidden treasures a lot quicker online. 

Anyway I hope you find this useful, let me know if this helps you find any must haves.
What's your tips for shopping at charity shops? I would love to know. If you don't shop in charity shops than why not, and I hope this may change your mind. 

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