A Beginner’s Guide To Charity Shopping

Getting a little thrifty and going charity shopping is a win-win for both the planet and your purse.

But, when faced with a mismatch of clothes and bric-a-brac, they can be tricky to navigate.

The knack lies in knowing how to shop them and, when you get it right, they can be a treasure trove of antique bargains and one-of-a-kind pieces.

Not to mention, you’ll bag extra eco points for buying pre-owned.

Here’s seven ways to get started.

1.Take your time

Unlike fashion stores, charity shops do not have visual merchandisers that are paid to present the clothing in aesthetic ways. Instead, most charity shops will simply organise items by colour or size. If the shop floor resembles a jumble sale, don’t be deterred. The beauty of charity shopping lies in your ability to sniff out a gem and pause when looking at an item to consider its individual perks. Try to go when you have a free afternoon, then you can enjoy exploring at your own pace.

2. Go online

Dislike the hustle and bustle of the high street? You can still charity shop! You might be surprised to learn that Oxfam’s website has a shopping facility. They currently stock about 180,000 donated items. Better still, they have a ‘sourced by Oxfam’ tab where you’ll find ethical, sustainable items that help contribute towards ending poverty worldwide. They even stock the eco-friendly beauty brand, Faith in Nature online, too.

3.Have an open mind

Try to see an item’s potential, instead of just its original purpose. With a little crafty inspiration, you can easily turn your charity finds into something else. Those jeans that might be too short for you? A touch of upcycling could soon transform them into shorts. Dislike the buttons on a coat? Swap them for some new ones. Have a look on Pinterest for inspiration.

4.Try before you buy

Sizing can be unpredictable when it comes to charity clothing for a variety of reasons. For one, remember that these items have been pre-owned, and they could have been altered from their initial sizing. Also, measurements can vary, particularly with vintage items. A size 10 in the 70s is completely different from a 10 nowadays. Take sizing with a pinch of salt and go with what feels comfortable, rather than the number written on the label. In some cases, the original label may have even been cut out or lost, leaving it without any real indication to its measurements, so it pays to try all items on.

5.Location, location, location

It’s funny how much of a difference a postcode can make to the items stocked in charity shops. More affluent areas are likely to sell branded items – while that’s not to say you’ll be able to bag Gucci for a fiver, (although we can still dream!) it’s worth heading to more prosperous areas as the stock will reflect this.

6.Befriend the volunteers

At Be Kind, we love our local community, so chatting to the staff is a sure fire way to not only make new friends but also get insider knowledge on the best new stock. Want first dibs of new donations? You know who to ask. And you may even be invited into the back to rummage through pieces that haven’t made their way onto the shelves yet. Plus, who doesn’t love making a new friend?

7.Don’t forget to donate either

The best thing about charity shopping is how it comes full circle. Instead of finding their way to the top of landfill, clothes are promised a new lease of life when given to a charity store for a new owner to find joy in them. Charities rely on our precious donations to keep them going, so while it’s good to be purchasing from them, it’s also important to give back too and donate some of your own unwanted items. After all, you’ve got to make room for your new purchases!