11th August – Elevate your charity shopping from good to GREAT

Even we, the clothes swapping app, love a charity shop visit! We know you can’t always find swap shops to take part in, or you don’t want to sit scrolling on your phone through Dopplle, so we want to help you find gems, even when they aren’t being swapped. 

When going to a charity shop, you definitely need to be in the right mood. Sorting through rails of clothes that are in random orders (colour, size, or type… it’s a mystery each time) – I love it! If I know I am hitting more than one charity shop, I put on my comfy clothes that are easy to try things over the top, and mentally get ready to find some great pieces. 

Comfort over fashion.

First up, before you even get to the charity shop, what are you wearing? Is it those jeans that you hate wearing for a long time, or that jumper that looks good but makes you warm the minute you step into a store? I personally throw on some comfy clothes, that I can try things over the top of. You never know if a charity shop has a changing room, or if it’s empty. Half the time I just find a quiet corner and throw things over the top as it’s quicker and easier. Why some charity shops don’t have changing rooms is beyond me. 

Cheap rails or stores - do it.

Keep an eye out for the sale rail, or the “cheap” rail. Some shops near me have a rail that is always outside (rain or shine) that is everything for £2. I love it and it’s not always ugly stuff. Along the same lines, find those £1 or £2 or £3 charity shops and visit them religiously. I swear some of my best finds have been from these stores. Even if they have an item in there that doesn’t follow their pricing as it’s a bit more of an expensive or unusual item, it will definitely be less than if it was in any other charity shop. I believe these second hand stores are getting more and more expensive, even though they are selling the same or lower quality clothing than they did before (Shein, I am looking at you, you do not belong in any charity shops). 

Check the items

Have no shame when you are shopping. The volunteers and staff that work in these stores are sometimes sorting through 100s of items each day, so it is hard to catch all the marks, threads pulled or stains that are inevitable on second hand items. If you notice something, and you do not feel the price reflects that, don’t be shy, ask the staff if it is possible for some money off due to XXX reasons etc. Obviously, it goes without saying, do not take the mick and be prepared to be told no, but sometimes it’s an honest mistake they missed, and if they had noticed it, it may not have even made it to the shop floor.

Be patient. Hunt often.

We mentioned religiously going into charity shops that are a reduced price, but we actually mean go into charity shops – All. The. Time.

Many of my friends ask how I find such good pieces from the charity shops. It’s not that I have good luck (well maybe slightly), it’s because wherever I go, I will always try and go into a charity shop or two if I see them. It’s the consistency that pays off. Search often when you get the chance. I have walked out of lots of stores empty handed, but then it pays off when I find something I love.

Make friends.

Don’t be creepy but be friendly with the staff in the stores. First of all, it’s nice to have a natter every now and then, but secondly, they can help you if you need to find something specific (they know what’s on the floor), or if you want to know when they put out the new stock. Some stores put out stock continuously, others have specific times or days. Ask and see, as it may help you when deciding when you want to visit them. Monday mornings = stock refresh? I will also be there every now and then. Never put out new stock during the week but only on the weekends? Okay, noted. This doesn’t really dictate when I go to the charity shops, as I go when I have some free time, but if you have more flexibility, then it may definitely help.

These are my top tips for charity shop shopping. I am no expert, but after only shopping or swapping second hand for the past 3 years, I have picked up some ways to get the best items and best charity shop finds.