From Junk to Jewels: Making the Most of Charity Shops

Charity shop stock is often looked upon as junk. Junk that no else wanted so it was stuffed in bags and dumped on Oxfam’s doorstep. Taking a different perspective however and getting creative with this ’junk’ could save you a small fortune, whilst donating to a good cause. Here are a few ideas to get you started with the most commonly found items…

Clothes are the most popular find in charity shops and aren’t necessarily a pile of OAPs’ hand-me-downs. Perhaps someone donated their wardrobe after losing weight and no longer fit the attire or someone with a bursting designer wardrobe had a clear out? It is possible to unearth a few recent trends; and if nothing fresh is available, vintage, customisable items are in endless supply.

Long ‘old lady’ skirts may look like something you camp in, but they make fab summer dresses. Just pull the waistline of the skirt over your bust, adjust with a few hand stitches as needed, add a belt and voila! You have yourself a summer maxi. For those preferring a flash of leg: simply cut to desired length and use the remaining material to create a scarf or headband.

We tend to save pennies by buying our uni books, used, via Amazon. This method however imposes waiting on the postman and accompanying postage fees which could serve an evening meal.  Some charity shops specialise in selling books so why not pop in to see if they have anything from next semester’s reading list? With the semester over people may be getting rid of their unneeded textbooks to make room for next year’s. The books are sold at a fraction of the original print price and you might even pick up some great summer reads while you’re there. If you’re in Glasgow, try Oxfam Bookshop on Byres Road.

If you fancy giving the flat a mini makeover, get rummaging for some knick-knacks or cheap and cheerful curtains before hitting high street shops. Remember to see potential with things like curtains, throws and rugs — fabric dye can work wonders if you can’t find anything in a shade you like.

Feel inspired to start digging? Let these tips guide you to hunting success!

Be an early-bird

The best stuff always sells fast, so you need to get there before it goes. Ask staff when they turn over stock and aim to rummage on that day. My favourite charity shop outfit (yes, WHOLE OUTFIT) was picked up 10 minutes after being railed!

Use elbow grease

Shopping in a charity shop isn’t a saunter around Topshop where visual merchandising is at its best. Be prepared to scour shelves and rails to find hidden gems!

Don’t have expectations

Expectation triggers disappointment. If you rock up knowing exactly what you want, you won’t find it.

Be vigilant with your spending

£10 should go a long way in a charity shop yet there are some that fancy themselves as the Prada of the flock (Cancer Research, Oxfam: I’m looking at you!) and like to bump up prices. There’s no point buying something second hand that you could’ve got new on the high street for a similar price. Jackets, skirts, and dresses would normally be less than £8 each with accessories being no more than £4 a piece.

Happy hunting! 

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