ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

A Guide To Charity Shops And Thrift Stores

Updated on June 27, 2012

Charity shops, thrift stores and second-hand markets are the new direction of fashion, in this age of environmentally-friendly vintage revival. Around 90% of my clothes and books are from these shops and I frequent them around twice a week. It's extremely fun and highly addictive and I'd strongly suggest you give it a try. There is often something in these goldmines for everyone, but if you are a bargain buyer or retro-enthusiast, they are particularly wonderful. In France, I noticed that there weren't many around, but in England, in the outskirts of town, they are innumerable. I have also heard that they're pretty popular in the US, so seek out your local secondhand joint and here's how to shop there effectively!

  • Use your imagination; it's sometimes hard to comprehend the beauty of a lovely leather satchel when it's surrounded by old, and slightly pungent, grey handbags. But don't let your surroundings put you off. Imagine how appealing the item may be if you'd just found it in a high-street shop or how good it might look with your new jeans. For me, the is the key to successful second-hand shopping: you really need to focus on the potential of the product more than anything else!
  • Shop by area; remember that the shops reflect their town, if you go to a posh area you are more likely to find designer gear. I prefer to go to places heavily populated with older people because they often give away trunks full of vintage. But be prepared to pay a little bit extra in these upmarket places: said posh people will be pricing the clothes!
  • Give something back; the thrift/charity shop experience is not at all the same as chain stores because ultimately you are giving to charity, which may make you feel more proud of your purchases and gives you a more peaceful state of mind. It's a dream come true; guilt free shopping!
  • It's just so cheap; after a while you will gauge the average price for each item of clothing, and it's usually so cheap that you end up with a lot of stuff you don't really want. So remember to still be selective, but there is a special joy in buying a dress for $5/£5 when it cost around 40. I bought my prom dress for £20 from a charity shop, which is worth about £200!
  • Try before you buy; a rule my mother enforces - if you don't love it enough to try it on, then you don't love it enough to buy. This helps stop the endless stream of cheap so that you can find the best of the best, that look good on you in particular.
  • Look at the labels; it's nice to know where the item came from originally, and it will determine if you've just found a vintage jem or designer piece.
  • Wash your buys; some shops do was their items but others don't. Just for the sake of hygiene, give it a quick spin before you put it on: you may have heard some horror stories about charity shopping, but don't let them put you off! You need to be a little bold to charity shop anyway.
  • The window; most people walk straight through the door without giving the window display a glance. But this is where they show off their best products, so reign in your excitement and have a good look at the window display.
  • Don't be put off by sizes; if you're a size 8 and fall in love with a size 10, don't worry about it! My wardrobe ranges from size 6-18: you can always take things in with a sewing machine. If you're not keen on sewing, maybe only buy the sizes immediately around you, like 6-10 or 12-16; the sizing systems in charity shops are often inaccurate.
  • Ask for help; these people are volunteers, they won't bite your head off, and if you want something specific just ask. If it''s not on the shop floor it may be out the back; the storage area of a charity shop is usually brimming with things too.
  • Dedication; you need to be prepared to rummage through the whole shop, which may take a while, or that special piece of clothing may get away. Also, the stock turnover is pretty fast, so become a regular and you while soon see the sort of stock and price that each charity shop represents.

So, prepare for some secondhand fun and make your wardrobe unique, quirky, and a quarter of the price. All of this without feeding the consumerism machine: recycling and giving, while looking pretty awesome!

What do you look for in charity shops or thrift stores?

See results


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Hmmmmn, maybe you should search intensively before buying.

    • 2patricias profile image


      6 years ago from Sussex by the Sea

      Tricia (the other Patricia) is a champion charity shop shopper, because she has more patience. She tells me that there are many bargains to be had for kids things - toys as well as clothes.

      I tend to buy cook books. I often use only a few recipes, so it never seems good value to buy a brand new book. This way, I can return the book to the shop if I find the recipes too difficult or inappropriate.

    • cloverleaffarm profile image

      Healing Herbalist 

      6 years ago from The Hamlet of Effingham

      Great hub. My favorite place to shop is Goodwill. They have a great selection of everything you could ever want. Thanks for sharing the great tips.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)