In a time where the cost of living is rising faster than people’s wages, charity shops are thriving on British high streets. They are no longer outdated retailers which were once only frequented by old ladies and vintage enthusiasts. Nowadays, all kinds of savvy shoppers visit charity shops in the hope of finding a second-hand bargain. If you’re not a regular visitor, this article will hopefully convince you to give them another try. As a self-confessed lover of second-hand stores myself, here’s why everyone should shop in charity shops:
1. You can find one-off pieces
If you buy an outfit from a charity shop, it’s rare that you’ll see someone wearing the same thing, unlike when you shop in Primark. Charity shops are treasure troves with all kinds of clothing, bric-a-brac and furniture, some of which may be vintage pieces that you can no longer buy on the high street. Back in my goth days, I used to find lots of alternative pieces such as 1990s velvet skirts in charity shops, that I couldn’t get anywhere else. You can also find items to customise or up-cycle to make them your own and stand out from the crowd. You may even find something unusual suitable for a fancy dress party! If you’re lucky, you may even find a brand new item that was never used or worn by its previous owner. So, if you like finding unique pieces and want the satisfaction of surprising people by telling them you bought your outfit second-hand, you should definitely shop in charity shops!
2. You’ll save money
Whether you’re a student on a budget, unemployed or just someone who likes a bargain, if you want to save money you should consider shopping in charity shops. As the items are second-hand, there are massive reductions in price in comparison to new goods and an array of bargains to be had. Every day items like t-shirts tend to be half their original price and you can also find designer items for a fraction of their original price. Most charity shops also reduce their items once they’ve been out for a while and have £1 rails for clothes that didn’t sell at the initial price. Some bigger shops also have discount schemes where you pay a set fee for a certain sized bag or pay a fixed amount per kilo, picking clothes and accessories to fill your bag from crates – a popular concept in large thrift chains in the US! If you’re a shopaholic, you should shop in charity shops if you want to feel less guilty about your spending!
3. It is good for the environment
Everyone who wants to help protect the environment and reduce their carbon footprint, should shop in charity shops. Their reuse and recycle systems are eco-friendly as they actively save clothes, bric-a-brac and furniture from landfill. Around 95% of clothing donated to charity shops is either sold on or recycled, which helps to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by about 7 million tonnes per year! Producing new items of clothing involves using large amounts of chemical pesticides and tonnes of water to grow cotton plants to produce enough fabric, not to mention the energy it takes to make and transport them to the British high street. If you like to update your wardrobe regularly, shopping in charity shops is a greener and more ethical way to do so!
4. You’ll be helping a good cause
One of the major reasons that everyone should shop in charity shops, is that the profits raised from sales go to good causes and help people in need! Unlike shopping in a regular retailers where you line the pockets of wealthy corporations, your purchases in charity shops make a real difference to others. You can also donate your unwanted items to help further! Each year, charity shops in the UK raise more than £110 million for a variety of causes, funding things like medical research, education, overseas aid, hospice care, children in need and veterans and their families. Donating money to charity also feels good, helps those you are worse off than you and makes for a guilt-free shopping experience! What better reason do you need?
5. The range of goods on offer
Bigger charity shops sell a wide range of goods, including clothes, shoes, accessories, bric-a-brac, books, DVDs, records, electricals and furniture! Shopping in charity shops is therefore convenient, as everything is in one place and if you’re prepared to rummage, you may uncover a hidden gem. A good charity shop can even act like a museum of vintage goods from the past and you can find things that you can no longer buy from other retailers. Many modern charity shops also sell new goods alongside their second-hand items, such as stock that department stores donate to them, as well as the charity’s own merchandise. Charity shops raise awareness of the organisation’s work, acting as a gateway to the charity’s services, so you can visit a store to find out how they can help you. Bigger stores also usually offer a free collection service if you’re clearing out your old furniture, so you can easily donate things you no longer want. Whatever you’re looking for, there aren’t many places you can purchase an entire outfit alongside a stack of DVDs and a new sofa, so you should give charity shops a try!
6. The people who work there…
A less obvious reason why everyone should shop in a charity shops, is that the people who work there usually really care about the cause and their customers. Many of the staff in charity shops are volunteers who give their time for free, so if they’re being nice to you, it’s probably genuine! As charity shops tend to be based on an ‘every little helps’ system, the staff are also unlikely to try and sell you something you don’t want and may even negotiate on the price of larger items like furniture. If you build a rapport with the people who work there, they will likely tell you where all the best stuff is and you may be able to find out the history of the item you’re buying. They may even put things aside for their regulars! If you’re looking for something to do in your spare time, you could also consider volunteering. Working in a charity shop can give you valuable experience, the work environment is pretty relaxed and you’ll get to work with a lovely bunch of people. Plus, there’s always plenty of tea and biscuits!
7. They are everywhere!
One of the benefits of shopping in charity shops, is that they are located everywhere. Even in small towns with few retailers, there is usually a charity shop or two dotted about. Although somewhat controversial with regards to how many are appearing on high streets recently, charity shops help to fill vacant properties on the high street and increase footfall. While richer areas with fewer charity shops tend to get the best donations, these are usually more expensive than town centre stores which have more competition. Smaller charity clothing shops are usually located on high streets, with larger furniture outlets located further out on retail parks. So, before you jump in your car and drive to the mall to buy something new, why not try your local charity shops first? You may find something unique at a fraction of the cost!
These are just 7 of the reasons why everyone should shop in charity shops, so go ahead and give them a try! After all, who doesn’t like to save money and help a good cause? Had your own positive experience shopping in charity shops? Please share it in the comments below…
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An English graduate from Yorkshire, currently living in Teesside. A lover of TV & film, music, tattoos and travelling!