Heading down to your local charity shop may spring to mind when you’re clearing out your wardrobe or when giving the garage a spring clean. Charity shops however are not just somewhere to take your unwanted clothes, books and bric-a-brac. You can find some gems you might not even realise are waiting for you, whilst helping charities to raise funds and reducing the strain on your wallet at the same time.
We’ve put together some inspiration for the next time you’re out shopping for the home or a special occasion, and second hand might not be your first thought. Give charity shops a chance and you could surprise yourself with the range of items and value you can benefit from.
Whether you’ve purchased your first home and taken that first step on the property ladder, are kitting out a rental property with basics or are redesigning the kids’ bedrooms, there are some fantastic bargains to be had where furniture is concerned.
Across the UK, charity shops have offerings of furniture, from national charities with specific furniture shops, to local charities and smaller shops who may take the odd item or smaller pieces like office chairs, desks and side tables.
You can often find good quality items, from pine drawers and cupboards to three piece suites, and charities usually have their own delivery service too, making things really easy to arrange. Vintage items can also be sourced for upcycling, or an outdated wardrobe can easily be upgraded simply by adding new door handles or a coat of paint. You could create your own new look for your home at a fraction of the cost of buying new and enjoy unleashing your creativity to make a piece that is truly unique.
One of the most expensive days of many couple’s lives is their wedding day. Wedding attire typically accounts for a significant proportion of the budget, but if you’re happy to consider a dress that isn’t new, you could save hundreds of pounds.
Some charity shops have rails with their selection of dresses, whilst in some areas, specific wedding dress shops or an upstairs department are set up to give that wedding-dress-shopping experience that brides love. You can even find accessories such as tiaras and head dresses, bridal shoes and dresses for bridesmaids.
Shopping for wedding gowns and bridal wear in charity shops can be particularly popular with brides planning a vintage theme. Well cared for dresses that have only been worn for one day can be given a new lease of life with some alterations and additions, or left in their vintage glory to enjoy another walk down the aisle.
Whatever you like to do in your free time, be it a 1000 piece jigsaw of country cottages and rolling scenery, curling up with a new book and shutting out the rest of the world, or spending an hour with the kids playing a board game, charity shops often have a good selection of entertainment to keep you busy on the wettest, darkest nights.
If you’re a book worm, there’s plenty in store for you; from fiction to non-fiction, it’s surprising how quickly the latest titles can find their way onto the shelves in charity shops, and with many shops charging between £1 and £3 per book, you can soon acquire a good pile of reading material at less than half the price on the high street. Purchasing second hand books also helps reduce their carbon footprint and saves paper, so everybody wins.
Board games and jigsaws can give lasting entertainment, and even electronic games and interactive pub quizzes can be found in many shops. It doesn’t matter so much if the kids don’t play with a new game 50 times before they get bored when it only costs a couple of quid, whereas new games that are quick to play or fall foul of short attention spans work out expensive when they just sit in a pile on a wardrobe. You can even find games that are a blast from the past and enjoy a retro gaming evening with friends. Keep an eye out for classic monopoly, scrabble and subbuteo, and don’t believe your dad if he says he let you win!
DVD collections are ever increasing too, and with so many repeats on the television, it can be refreshing to try something new that you wouldn’t buy at full price. Again, usually between £1 and £3, compared to the price of new DVDs and cinema tickets, you can enjoy a cheap night in and spend the money you saved on a nice bottle of fair trade wine or local steak from your butcher.
You may think buying electrical items from a charity shop would be a mistake, but you can find some real bargains. Just check that they’re all PAT tested and come with some form of warranty – most have at least 28 days as long as you retain the receipt. British Heart Foundation often combine their furniture and electrical shops, and although some charity shops don’t accept electrical goods, there’s usually somewhere in your local area that you can have a browse.
From washing machines to radios, televisions to tumble dryers and freezers, you can find all manner of electricals at second hand shops specialising in these goods. Although white goods may not be as energy efficient as a new model, if you’re left in the lurch because your fridge freezer has broken, a second hand appliance could get you through until payday when you can invest in a greener model.
Although you might not get the latest model with all the mod cons, if you’re kitting a house out or are on a budget, second hand electricals can help your budget stretch that little bit further. Many items may never have been out of the box, so are as good as new, whilst others are reconditioned. This means that worn parts have been replaced, so although the entire item isn’t new, the parts that tend to wear out will have been tested and replaced if they were faulty or broken.
If you’re looking for the perfect item to complement your outfit, from ear rings to necklaces, handbags to belts, many charity shops have a wide selection on offer. Inside their counters, you can often find rings, watches and bracelets, and some have display stands with costume jewellery.
For fans of fashion jewellery, beads and bangles, whether more modern or of a vintage style, checking out your local charity shops can give you a wide choice of items, some still new and in their boxes.
Whether you discover a new bed frame or a fancy handbag, remember that if you’ve run out of space and want to invest in a new wardrobe, or items to fill it, many charity shops can arrange collections for large items and welcome donations to store throughout the year.