Over the years, charity and thrift shops have grown in popularity. With a number of bustling charity shops on the high street, it seems that everybody loves a bargain these days. Amidst rails of second hand goods, how can you ensure that you unearth a unique and special find? Here’s ten of our top tips on how you can grab yourself a charity shop bargain.
1. Leave your preconceptions at the door
Charity shops have changed a lot in the last few years. Some people are still under the impression that they’re full of smelly, old clothes. Whilst the odd bad item can escape the attention of the volunteers, overall the standards have improved greatly. These days, shoppers are expecting goods which are as-new, meaning that only the best items are put out for sale.
2. Take your time
It is impossible to pop into a charity shop and spot a bargain instantly. Charity shops are often full to the brim with weird and wonderful items, therefore it is essential to take your time and look carefully on each rail and stand if you want to try and secure a bargain. There are so many hidden treasures which can be missed if you’re in a rush!
3. Look for the unexpected
As we mentioned, there are often many hidden treasures lurking around your local charity shop. However, sometimes you’ve got to look for things in unexpected places. Regardless of your size, make sure you look through the entire clothing rail as we all know that sizes can vary depending on the make of the item. Also, shop unisex! Clothes are often put back in the wrong place by customers, and you just might find something that’s perfect for you in the men’s/ladies section.
4. Visit regularly
Unlike most shops, new stock gets put out in a charity shop on a daily basis. Items are often snapped up straight away, so it pays to visit frequently. It might just be your lucky day! Also, every shop has a certain time scale in which they will rotate stock and reduce the price. If you’re willing to take a risk that your item will be there in a few weeks time, you might grab a reduced bargain.
5. Get friendly with the staff
If you visit a charity shop regularly, it gives you the chance to get acquainted with the volunteers and members of staff. It costs nothing to be friendly, and more often than not, building up a friendship with the team can work in your favour. Not only can you ask them to keep an eye out for certain items, but sometimes they’ll even get to know your fashion sense and keep potentially suitable items to one side for you.
6. Check the item
A charity shop would be nothing without its volunteers, and they do an excellent job of ensuring only the highest quality goods get put out for sale. However, an item with a flaw can be missed by numerous volunteers and still make its way out onto the shop floor. Depending on the flaw, it may be possible to get a small discount, or you might be happy to take a risk that a stain can be removed at home. It’s always best to double check for any stains, rips or other flaws before you buy.
7. Try things on
Unless the item is new with tags, it is always best to try an item on. Most goods will have been worn before and therefore will have stretched to the shape of the previous owner. The same applies to shoes, which mould to the shape of someone’s feet if they’ve been worn a lot. It’s also vital to check clothes for amendments. So many people don’t think to look at the hems to see if they’ve been taken up or not!
8. Shop Independent
There are bargains to be found in every charity shop. However, unlike chain shops, who sometimes buy in goods to sell, most independent charity shops stock solely donated goods, which are generally cheaper in price. Every item is unique, and you may just come across that special something.
9. Think about what you need
A bargain isn’t a bargain unless you need it. It’s all good snagging a £2 top, but if it’s still sitting in your wardrobe unworn a year down the line because you have nothing to go with it, then it was a bit of a waste of time and money. Many people make impulse purchases just because something’s cheap, but end up not wearing the item. The only benefit to this, is that you have supported a worthy cause and are fairly likely to donate it back again or pass it on to someone else.
10. Love it? Want it? BUY IT!
Once you’ve decided that you love, want and can’t live without an item, BUY IT! Things don’t often hang around in charity shops for a long time. Most items are one offs, and there are dozens of other people who might also be interested in the same item. When it’s gone, it’s gone, and there’s nothing worse than that tinge of “I should have bought it when I saw it” regret.
What are your top tips for snagging a charity shop bargain? Share your tips with us on twitter @Fuzzable.