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  • Writer's pictureSafiya Allaf

Charity Shops 101: 5 Top Tips for Scoring Second-Hand Gems

Clothes on a clothing rack

The most sustainable clothes are the ones you already own. But what happens when you’ve outgrown a garment, something is beyond repair, or you just crave something new to reflect your style? 

Sounds like a charity shop trip is on the cards. 

At Ganddee, we love a good charity shop, but we know that stepping inside can intimidate some shoppers. The most common worry we hear is: “I can never find anything I like.” 

If this is you, then strap yourself in. Here are our top tips for finding second-hand gems in the charity shops. 

1. Map out your trip 

Shopping second-hand isn’t like popping into your local shopping centre; you’ve got to be ready to go on a treasure hunt. To set yourself up for success, create a plan of action. 

Start by picking a location. This could be your nearest town or city. Or, if you’re feeling adventurous, why not go further afield to a charity shop hotspot? Use the Ganddee app and filter for charity shops to pinpoint a suitable area. 

Next, check what each shop sells and bookmark the ones you like for quick, easy access on your shopping trip. If you’re after clothes, don’t make the mistake of heading to a second-hand bookshop. 

No need to go overboard here, but having 3 to 5 shops up your sleeve will make your trip a lot smoother. Finally, block out a few hours or a whole day to give yourself enough time to dig for the most coveted items. 

Top tip: Posh and more affluent areas tend to receive higher quality donations, but be warned their prices may also be higher. 

2. Browse every section

You’re at the charity shop. Now what? Have a browse! 

Some charity shops like to categorise by colour, some by clothing type and others just by size. To maximise your trip, start with the section most likely to have the item you’re looking for. Got time on your hands? Look through every section. Yes, every section. 

Why? Well, you never know what you’re going to find. People’s perceptions of which category an item should belong in are different. For example, if you were looking for dungarees in the trousers section, but the shop hangs them with the long dresses, you’ll miss out. 

Don’t be afraid of going through clothes outside of your prescribed gender and size, too. Lots of clothes are unisex. And we all know how sizing differs from brand to brand and era to era.  

Top tip: Ask the manager or volunteers when they restock so you know when to come in next to get first dibs on the latest donations. 

3. Check the label

Once you find something you like, check the label. Just like we look at food packaging to see the nutritional value, get into the habit of knowing the fibre composition of your clothing. 

Natural fibres like cotton, linen, lyocell and wool are more durable, repairable and breathable than their synthetic counterparts. They're kinder to your skin and the planet as they don’t release microplastics when you wash and wear them. Try to avoid polyester, nylon, acrylic, rayon and acetate, if you can. 

While you’re checking the label, look at the seams and stitching. Is the item well-constructed? Is there enough seam allowance for future repairs? Is the stitching even and sound? Are fastenings like zips, buttons and clasps well attached?  

Top tip: Look through your current wardrobe to identify the brands that fit well and have a sound construction. Keep these brands in mind when shopping. 

4. Try things on 

No matter how good something looks on a hanger, you won’t get a real sense of the fit until it’s on a human body. Your body. From the drape and weight of the fabric to the stretch and length - everything can change once an item is worn. So, don’t be shy to try things on. 

Most charity shops have dressing rooms and mirrors available. Plan to wear something easy to take on and off. We recommend comfy trousers or leggings, a simple top and slip-on shoes (trust us, nothing is worse than unlacing and relacing trainers).

This simple outfit will also help you imagine how to integrate your new-to-you charity shop finds into your wardrobe. How does a skirt look with the top you’re already wearing? Or how does a jumper look with your trousers? 

Take a moment to see how the item makes you feel. Does it light you up and excite you? Take note of the fabric against your skin. Is it soft or scratchy? Does the item pinch? Is it too loose? If you have any doubts, don’t buy it. Leave it for someone else who will appreciate it more. 

Top tip: No dressing room? No problem. Take a measuring tape with you to help you find the perfect fit. 

5. Go often

Once you’ve got the hang of your first charity shop trip, plan more. The secret to finding high-quality items that will stay in your wardrobe forever is going often. The more you head to the charity shops, the more you get into the rhythm of which brands to look out for, which shops have the best prices and which have the best stock. 

Be mindful that charity shops often put their stock out seasonally. If after a new coat, for example, you’re unlikely to find one in the height of summer. Many shops will also use national holidays to promote certain items - like red and pink items around Valentine’s Day or Christmas jumpers in November.

You’ll also grow in confidence and be able to branch out to other towns, cities and maybe even countries! Shopping second-hand need not be confined to charity shops either. On the Ganddee app, there's a whole treasure trove of second-hand and vintage shops where you can apply all of these tips.  

Top tip: Make a habit of popping into your local charity shops regularly and let the volunteers know if you’re after something in particular so they can keep an eye out. 



The more we shop second-hand, the more clothes we keep in circulation and prevent from entering landfills. Together, we can make a difference.

To help you with your sustainable shopping journey, we teamed up with Crisis charity shops to offer all our app users a 15% discount in-store and online. Just show the Ganddee app discount code at checkout to claim. Head here to learn more.

Ready to get treasure hunting? Explore charity shops on Ganddee, now. 

Bonus tip: Take more tote bags than you think to carry all your goodies. Don’t undo your hard work to help the planet by succumbing to a plastic bag.

Image via Unsplash.

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05 abr
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Love this!

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03 abr
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Amazing tips :)

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