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Best Charity Shops In The UK: These Are Our Readers' Favourites

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Best Charity Shops In The UK: These Are Our Readers' Favourites

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Charity shops have returned and with two out of five of us having a clear out this spring, there's never been a better time to visit one. But where to head for? Our readers have shared their best charity shops in the UK, with Rae Ritchie, to help you embrace your summer secondhand style.

Add your own experiences and favourite charity shops in our new comments section at the bottom too!

Rae Ritchie

Mon 29 Jun 2020

It's hard to come up with a list of the UK's best charity shops but our readers have come up with some beauties that you might not know about.

While recent headlines have focused on the queues outside Primark, the post-lockdown retail moment many of us have been waiting for is the reopening of charity shops.

For their legions of devotees, nothing beats a good hunt among their racks – and it is big business.

These unsung heroes of the high street contributed £330 million to their parent charities in 2018-19, say the Charity Retail Association. With 82% of that income coming from donated goods, charity shops also facilitate the reuse of used clothing and other goods.

And many pebble readers are passionate about giving new life to second-hand purchases, judging from the response to our request for the best places to shop for preloved clothes and homewares.

Traid off: What happens to your clothes when you recycle them?

Scroll down for our list of the best charity shops in the UK

These are people’s favourites, organised by geographical region, but with a special shout out to the national chain that came most recommended. Scroll down to find out who that is!

You can also check them out on this Google Map we’ve made and you can download all our suggestions as a handy PDF.

rack of secondhand clothes up close

North

According to Julie in North Yorkshire, the “Vintage Room” at the rear of Age UK charity shop in Guisborough is “always an amazing experience – it’s like having a rummage through fashion history”.

Gems that she has picked up from there over the years include a silver-grey pencil skirt with a small floral print for £1.99, a 1970s feather print wide collared shirt and a 1980s dress “with a weird hunting themed print that I never actually wore but enjoyed looking at”.

Julie adds that a charity shop trip around Guisborough is always worthwhile, coronavirus permitting, as there are several other chain charity shops as well as two independents, one of which was the source of Paul Smith polka dot jumper for £1.

South

Three hundred miles south, Lucy of textiles brand Arc Lore recommends the St Michael’s Hospice shop in St Leonards-on-Sea “especially for their knitwear sales and lovely knitwear pieces for babies made by their residents”.

In Weybridge, ethical fashion journalist, Amira Arasteh, loves the Princess Alice Hospice.

”I picked up my favourite handbag there YEARS ago; it's only a simple cross body saddle bag but it looks vintage while being in pristine condition and I get compliments on it all the time. I'm constantly sewing the cover and fixing the buckle as I can't bear to part with it. The shop is a great place for fashion finds, in my opinion. I wish I was able to visit more often.”

"The managers know me well enough now that they will pop into where I work to tell me if something has come into the shop that I might like"

East

Over in the east of England, Jo from clothing brand Where does it come from? loves the Sense charity shop in Ipswich town centre so much that she and a stylist friend made a video in there.

West

Julia cannot speak highly enough of the Rowan Tree Cancer Care shop that fundraises for a local charity in Pontypridd. “I’m a regular,” she explains, “And the managers know me well enough now that they will pop into where I work to tell me if something has come into the shop that I might like. Great customer service”.

If you’re in Pontypridd, Julia also recommends the St David’s Foundation Hospice Care shop, one of 37 across the south of Wales.

inside a thrift furniture store

Where are your favourite charity shops? Let us know in the comments below!

The Midlands

A cluster of recommendations came in for charity shops in the Midlands.

Jayde says that “the ones in Leamington Spa are a goldmine” and the source of many amazing bargains for her, even if she did have to pass up on a barely worn £40 Karen Millen trouser suit because of the impracticalities of wearing white.

Nearby Kenilworth also scores highly and The Myton Hospices shop on Far Gosford Street in Coventry, one of 27 in the city and throughout Warwickshire, got a mention too.

Further south in Northamptonshire, Olesya loves to visit the Towcester charity shop that supports the local Willen Hospice.

As well as some great vintage items, she’s picked up many bargains as “the principle of this store is better to sell things for 50p then take them through the back door to the ragman” – and I completely agree.

The principle of this store is better to sell things for 50p then take them through the back door to the ragman

London

London is one of the world’s shopping capitals and it doesn’t fall short when it comes to charity shops either.

Greater London

Starting on the outskirts, Sharon says that Oxfam and Cancer Research on Victoria Road in the heart of Surbiton are her go-to locations, along with Shooting Star Children’s Hospices shop in Teddington, where there is always a warm welcome.

North London

There was a lot of love for Primrose Hill and nearby neighbourhoods. Another Sharon described Primrose Hill and Hampstead as her favourite areas because they’re where “people throw out really good stuff”. Sophie specifically named Mary’s Living and Giving in Primrose Hill, one of a chain of Save the Children stores created by retail expert Mary Portas that was also put forward by Jo from sustainable shopping app Giki – “They have some nice stuff!”.

Front window of Crisis charity shop
“Crisis in Finsbury Park even has a café which competes with all the artisan coffee shops hands down”

Inger recommended the Marie Curie shop opposite Belsize Park tube station, while moving eastwards, Karen from the natural and organic skincare site Blomma Beauty is desperate to begin shopping at the Crisis shop in Finsbury Park again. “It really is a little hub in our community,” she says. “Their window displays are incredible, enticing you in…I’ve found brand new designer dresses with labels, fantastic knitwear and stationery.

“There’s even a café which competes with all the artisan coffee shops hands down. Plus, you know the money is going to a good cause. Homelessness in Finsbury Park is an issue that confronts you every day”.

Another store boasting a good café is Found in South Harrow, which raises funds for the nearby Christ Church Roxeth.

This place was nominated by Mooey, who says “It is a lovely place and the volunteers are friendly and happy to help. The prices aren’t too high either, unlike some of the chain charity shops”.

Moreover, in what has to be the greatest endorsement for a charity shop, she adds “I don’t think I have ever left without buying something”.

rails of clothes inside a thrift shop 2

London has a vast array of charity shops in every corner

East London

Lama’s Pyjamas in Bethnal Green, which supports the work of the London Buddhist Centre, comes highly recommended. Jenna has picked up everything from “a super comfy pair of cropped Top Shop pants, lovely vintage style crockery and even a never used, tag still attached, reusable coffee cup”, while Sarah wistfully remembers “finding a pair of shoes that matched the dress I was wearing for a friend’s wedding and had never been worn”.

Sarah and Eleanor, her partner at the sewing workshop initiative Fast Fashion Therapy, also recommend the Ayoka charity boutique in Bethnal Green, which “always has a lot of good finds” and fundraises for creativity and wellbeing project, St Margaret’s House.

South London

Down in Streatham Hill, the Give a Little store donates its profits to a range of charities. As well as giving to different good causes, the shop has given Eleanor “so many gems, it’s hard to narrow if down, but my favourites have to be finding a complete set of the 1970s patterned plates and bowls that my grandparents use to have for about 50p each and two huge industrial cones of silk thread that the shop owner gave me for £1 each… they ended up being central to bringing a completely tattered leather jacket back to life”.

Travel to Clapham High Street and check out the Royal Trinity Hospice store.

Download our best charity shops as a PDF

Want to visit some of our best charity shops? Here's a PDF of where you can find them across the UK for you to download.

Download now

What do you think?

Add your favourite charity shop (and tell us why) in the comments below and we'll try add them into the feature!

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