That phrase; ‘hidden gem’, is the reason why I love charity shops. The more you visit, the more you see and if you’re a bit of a bargain hunter or collector like me then you’ll definitely find something that tickles your fancy.
When I say collector though, I’m not talking priceless antiques or rare memorabilia, I just mean that I like things… lots of things. In some respects I feel a little greedy sometimes, maybe a bit materialistic; but I don’t ever spend hundreds of pounds in one go (unless I’m paying my rent or tax). I guess you could call me easily pleased. Some people wouldn’t be happy unless they got a posh bag or designer shoes as a present, I’d literally be chuffed with a packet of feathers and some beads. I’m not judging anyone when I say that, I am just illustrating a difference.
[Please excuse the images in this post, I had to poach them from my Instagram, so they’re not the best :o]
Anyway, this is meant to be about the reasons that charity shops (in my book) are great. So…
So, maybe a bit of a dodgy one for some people; thinking of someone previously wearing their clothes, but if you can get over that fact then charity shopping can be great! It’s just like the cheaper version of a vintage shop, only the clothes probably aren’t that old and by buying in a charity shop, you are donating to a good cause!
I’ve found a fair few gems over the years, most of these have been housey things, but there have been a couple of items of clothing. I got a lovely cosy cardigan for £1.00! Not only was it the right size, but I remember seeing it when it was in store in New Look and wanting to buy it, but having no money to do so; so it was obviously meant to be…
I’ve bought men’s Levis jeans really cheap and cut them into shorts, which are great for the summer. Cheap second-hand jeans are super for practising customising clothes. Bleaching denim then dying it with pastel colours looks so good, even if your dying job goes wrong, you can rip, fray and stud the denim to look grungey and pretend it was meant to look like that.
So the 90s are here again – tracksuits are back in, as well as slip style dresses, so there’s no better time to grab yourself a bargain in your local charity shop.
Another reason I rate charity shops is for fancy dress items; a charity shop is a great place to start, especially if it’s for Halloween when you’ll be covering it with fake blood or dirt, so you don’t want to be buying anything expensive.
The only down-side for clothes shopping in charity shops is that you will probably need to visit more than one. But if you’re a shopaholic like me, then that won’t be a negative at all!
Jewellery & Accessories
Making jewellery is one of my hobbies and I love upcycling parts from different pieces to make something completely new. Cheap jewellery is so easily found in charity shops, which is not only perfect for my creating, but I’ve also found pieces that I wear frequently.
Pearls, beads, chains and even fastenings are all handy for jewellery making and jewellery also makes a lovely gift. Try using a brooch or earring as a simple pendant one some chain!
If you’re not looking at clothes for anything other than their fabric, then you will be spoilt for choice. Getting a shirt for £2 and using the fabric to make lots of little soft hanging hearts or sliced up to use for making a woven rug… whatever you need fabric for, have a look in a charity shop first as you may find exactly what you need.
A golden find in a charity shop is curtains. Of course, the fabric has to be right for you but they could be great fabrics to make toiles for new sewing projects you want to try. I had ridiculously large windows in my flat and I had blankets clipped up for the first month of living there… my grandma had been keeping her eye’s peeled and she found some huge curtains which fit perfectly for just £4 in a charity shop!
NOT the underwear kind, no. Even I draw the line at wearing strangers second-hand underwear… that’s just a little too intimate haha!
I’m talking little home accessories like frames, crockery and vases. There are a plethora of things that can be used as they are and even more amazing finds if you have a good imagination and some crafting skills – a lick of paint, some decorative shells, a reel of twine… you can update almost anything and make it fit with your decor!
Since taking up floristry, I’m always on the lookout for containers, pots and vases I could use for floral designs and the charity shops often have some interesting offerings in this department.
Seasonal items are often fun to find – I love the baubles I got from a charity shop one year, they were 10 for £1. I ended up adding some embellishments so that they sparkled on my tree ^_^
Some charity shops sell furniture, which I think is brilliant. After renting a flat on my own with very limited funds and no real furniture of my own, charity shops were my go-to destination and I was extremely fortunate to obtain free furniture from friends and family who were throwing things out.
I got a great bookshelf from a charity shop (which specialises in furnishings, appliances and home accessories) for just £30 and they even had others which were cheaper (I chose mine because it was perfect for my spare room “craft room”). Again, like the little homeware pieces, furniture can be given a new lease of life with a bit of TLC and a bit of paint.
Games, Music, Movies & Books
Boardgames, computer games, cards, books, DVDs, CDs… it can be surprising what you find in the depths of a charity shop. If you do still use CDs and like to have a solid format of your favourite bands and artist’s music, then look no further – charity shops are often full to the brim with CDs and often you can even find some quite obscure artists. Same goes for movies (if you still use a DVD player) as you can get some relatively “new” DVDs as well as copies of your old faves!
Buying boardgames new can be pretty pricey, so scouting your local chazza shop for Cluedo, Scrabble or anything else you like playing, is a really good idea.
Books are another great find! Get inspired for a new hobby, find some gorgeous picture books or stock your library with educational reads.
Next time you’re out and about, pop into the charity shop that you normally walk past; you never know, you could find something amazing! AND you’ll be supporting a charity – which is always fab! Even if you don’t find anything or can’t afford to spend much, the smallest donation helps to go towards good causes. I love some of the little pin badges you can get from various charities – this little forget-me-not for the Alzheimer’s Society is so simple and sweet as well as being for a great cause!