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Finding hidden gems in charity shops

June 3, 2018 |

If you are a natural bargain hunter, enjoy having a rummage to find a worthy treasure, or love the chase, a charity shop can be a goldmine of fun and winning finds. Labels, designed clothing and as-good-as-new gifts – once you start looking, you might just get addicted.

If there is one thing London has plenty of, it’s charity shops – and plenty of people who have finished their spring clean, donating clothes that are as good as new. Remember, charity shops only put clothing in good condition out for sale, so you’ll be surprised at what you can find.

Here is a list of the top tips to unearth those gems:

Don’t just visit once

This is my number one rule. A few years ago I was fortunate to have a couple of weeks off work for a staycation, and with time on my hands I decided to go into my local charity shops a few times each week to see what I could find.

I was not only surprised at how much the stock changed on a daily basis, but also the variety of pieces and how much I picked up, at a fraction of a cost.

Of the many I visited, I soon noticed a huge difference between them in terms of quality, ‘newness’ and where I could pick up the best bargains – so if I had gone just the once I wouldn’t have found so many gems!

Think twice about shoes

I always think these are a funny one. Unless they are box fresh, the thought of wearing shoes that already have a toe print or are heavily worn is usually a big no from me. Trainers in particular, especially if you are looking to go to the gym or use them for a run, are quite a personal choice.  Not only do your feet need stability, they need to wear to the shape of you, rather than someone else.

That doesn’t mean you can’t pick up some real bargains though. It just takes time to rummage.

women looking at labels in shops for bargainsLocation, Location, Location

One myth that should be stopped right now is to go to the affluent areas for better clothing. The truth is, most charity shops distribute their items across all their stores.

In addition, areas which are richer also tend to charge boutique prices for quality items, as charity shops have wised up.

However, if you are looking to find a gem and don’t mind paying that bit extra, a sweep through different areas will unearth a number of potential, high quality bargains – and is a great buzz when you find it.

Sign up for Gift Aid

While you are donating directly to the charity, there is a way that you can help them even further, by agreeing to pay gift aid.

In the UK there are around 10,000 charity shops, all raising money for fantastic causes. In simple terms, if you spend £100 in the shop, they can earn an extra £25 per sale (as long as you pay tax!), just by your agreement – and no extra cost to yourself. So in a way, you are double donating!


Charity shop hunting can be a bit of sport and is a great way to have fun while you shop. Know your labels, keep on revisiting, wash items before you wear, and experiment with your style!

Although we would love you to store your old clothes in our storage units in East London, we realise the excellent work these charities do and would encourage you to donate your old clothes to charity shops.