Tips for Charity Shopping from a Charity Shop Worker

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Charity shops are a great place to buy your clothes for a variety of reasons: it is more economical, more environmentally friendly and more ethical than buying from clothing retailers that exploit their workforce. However, the experience of charity shopping can be underwhelming and difficult; it is often too easy to give in and pop to Primark instead. As a passionate charity shop volunteer, I have compiled a list of tips that may help you in your charity shop ventures!

1. Change your mindset towards buying second-hand

I am aware this is an almost impossible thing to do! Since birth, we are conditioned to believe that new and expensive material goods provide us with status and respect. This is a narrative that needs to be overcome before you can fully deep dive into the world of charity shopping. Rather than viewing your value in terms of what you own, understand that value is found within. In rejecting society’s obsession with the exterior, changing our mindset towards wearing second-hand clothing can help challenge unhealthy ideals of body image and unattainable fashion standards.

2. Be open to experimenting with new styles

As awful as this sounds, always enter a charity shop with zero expectations. Do not have a style or specific brand in mind; this may prevent you from fully utilising the diversity of clothes on offer. With prices incredibly low in comparison to New Look and Topshop, charity shops provide you with the perfect opportunity to try that style you’ve been thinking of giving a go. Avoid fixating on a certain style and let yourself have fun!

3. Everything looks better (and smells better) after a wash –

Unfortunately, a little marking cannot be avoided. Often charity shops do not have the resources to wash the vast quantities of donations that they receive; it would be too time-consuming and there simply isn’t space to store it all. Stock may also have been sitting in the back waiting for the right season, so a few wrinkles are to be expected. If you see something that might be your cup of tea, take it home, wash it and try it on. If it is stained or not what you imagined, most charity shops happily do refunds.

4. Make visiting charity shops a regular habit – 

When an absolute bargain is put out in the shop, it is likely to be swooped up in an hour! Through regularly visiting for a browse, you will quickly notice that the stock is constantly changing. With every item being unique, when it is gone, it is gone forever. To avoid missing out, charity shop trawls every three to four weeks should suffice.

5. Volunteer – 

Ultimately, charity shops are supporting a variety of wonderful causes and should be championed over fashion companies that employ exploitative and environmentally degrading practices. Not only will you meet lovely people and build your retail skills, but you will also have first dibs on the stock. The shifts can be as low as three hours a week, perfectly slotting into your busy student lifestyle. The bargains make it 100% worth it!

Hopefully, these tips may encourage you to become a more proactive charity shopper! Through more charitable and ethical consumption, we can begin to fight the fast-fashion industry without forking out an entire student loan for a pair of ethically produced trousers. Embrace the second-hand lifestyle and your bank account will be sure to thank you!

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