Top tips for shopping second hand

Brigid Fox

Charity shops can often be met with misleading preconceptions and be perceived as intimidating as they are not like other retail stores.

For some the thoughts of walking into a charity shop are faced with the worry of ‘where do I begin?’ or even, ‘Isn’t it just going to be old, dirty clothes you can’t use?’ Shopping second is different to the way of high street stores, but much more rewarding.

Are you wishing to venture into the world of second hand fashion but don’t know where to start? Here are five tips to help your journey.

Be open minded

The charity shop is not going to be like any store you’ve been to so don’t expect it to be.

Be open to the clothing you might come across and any small adjustments that might be needed. Walk in with a positive outlook on all of the possibilities of clothing that may be discovered and you’re sure to find something special.

Dive right in

It is important not to become too overwhelmed with the general clutter. Instead, be excited by it. Tip toeing around won’t help find amazing fashion items…diving in will!

Whatever section whether that be womens/mens/childrens/books its best to start from the top of the rail/shelf and work your way through. Not all items will grab your attention or even be worth a second glance but this method will help to ensure your chances of finding the perfect charity fashion item for an unbelievable price.

Investigate the clothing

Realistically most if not all the clothing/products in a charity shop are second hand (finding an item with tags still intacted is rare but not unheard of ).

With that in mind, the clothes may have gotten a few bumps and bruises on the way to the charity shop and into your shopping frenzied hands. It might seem obvious but thoroughly checking the clothing’s condition is a must.

Be cautious of stains, spills, frayed linings and missing buttons. Although some examples of imperfections such as the missing buttons can be easily rectified if you’re handy with a sewing kit or have a mother who is (thanks mam! ), but it is vital to make sure what you are purchasing is to a high standard.

€1 rails are your friends

Majority of charity shops have a small section dedicated to €1 sales. Although they might not have the best clothing it can often be the perfect place to pick up some wardrobe basics.

Taking just a quick look at these rails/baskets can help accumulate certain staples and help build a complete look.

Ask Questions

Generally all the staff you see in charity shops are volunteering. They don’t get pay checks at the end of the month and they don’t stress about step-by-step floor plans or review bonuses.

They are people taking a couple of hours out of their day to help the running and wellbeing of a charity store that will in turn raise money in aid of important organisations and causes.

Charity shops will have signs/posters explaining the work that they do but talking to members of staff can really bring an organisation to life. Some volunteers may have had their own struggles in life and that charity may have helped them in some way. All members will possess invaluable information on the organisation itself and how everyone can help.

A positive approach to shopping second hand is the best way to guarantee a successful purchase. See these tips as a guide to help you through your first encounters with the rewarding challenge of charity shopping.



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