Bargain Hunting: How to Shop in Charity Shops

Those of us who love a bargain will know that you can find treasure buried amongst the pre-loved knick-knacks. There’s a certain satisfaction to a successful bargain hunting trip but there are do’s and don’ts to making the most of your trip to your local charity shop. Discover how to make your trip to your local charity shop more productive.

Do go with a plan

Do your research before planning a charity shopping trip. Yelp is a great way to see what other shoppers thought of the shops in your area before you visit - and it may help you to decide which ones to plan a visit to. Some charity shops can often have enviable collections of vintage furniture or specialise in books or chinaware and crockery. The reviewers on Yelp tend to highlight any specialities that shops might have so you can plan your trip accordingly.

Top tip - The British Heart Foundation and Sue Ryder have shops that specialise solely in furniture and electrical items whilst Barnado’s have shops that have high quality vintage clothing and accessories.

Don’t lose faith

Be prepared to spend a long time digging through rails and shelves to find something special, however if you visit on a regular basis you’ll be able to shop the newest donations and deliveries.

Do look for the potential in things

Up-cycled furniture is a huge trend at the moment. You may be in the market for a bedside table, so don’t ignore the lonely looking pine nightstand in the corner of the shop - you could breathe some life in to it with a lick of paint to match your home and save yourself some money in the process. You could also discover that taking on projects up-cycling furniture becomes an addictive new hobby!

Don’t mistake trash for treasure

Examine each item carefully before you purchase. If you’ve spotted a potential antique, ask the shop to place the item on hold - giving you time to research its true value. You can look up hallmarks and makers marks online or at your local library, so try to take a picture if you can. If you are buying the item to re-sell take a look at similar items on eBay to see how much other sellers are listing them at or take a look at guide prices for thousands of items on Miller’s Antiques and Collectables.

Do try things on

Most charity shops won’t accept refunds so make sure you try it on any items of clothing properly (or in the case of furniture, try it out) before you buy. Make your mind up 100% before handing over your cash.

Don’t think about second hand shoes

Unless they seem totally unworn it is best to avoid second hand shoes. Whist charity shops will stringently assess donated items before they choose to put on sale, it is much easier to clean clothes purchased second hand than footwear. With leather shoes in particular the insole may have moulded to the previous owners feet – making for a very uncomfortable wear. Use you individual judgement but if you do invest in second hand shoes give them some TLC with a shoe refresher spray and a brand new pair of insoles.  

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