I’ve worked in a charity shop for 20 years – how to really bag the best bargains & what we actually want you to drop off | The Sun

THERE is a real art to charity shopping and if your going to do it, you need to do it right.

Lucy Herron is a charity consultant who now owns her own business Sloafer, a woman's shoe brand.  

Lucy has over 20 years experience in the charity sector and in that time she’s seen it all.

Over that time period the way charity shops operate has completely changed. 

And with the cost of living crisis still looming, a lot of us are turning to second hand clothes to fill in our closets. 

If you're new to the world of charity shops here’s a few tips to help you navigate.

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First here's Lucy's tips for finding the best bargains. 

Know what you want

She said: “You need to look at charity shops the same way you do a regular store. Charity shops are merchandising the same high street stores do.”

“This means they have carefully crafted displays, grouping clothes with a sensible cohesive approach.”

If you were going shopping for a pair of heels you would look in the heel section under women’s shoes. 

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Lucy explains: “Charity shops are the same, it might just take a little longer to find that special buy. There’s no benefit to the stores making certain items really hard to find but you will need your wits about you.”

Browse boutique

If you’re looking for more exclusive items like high end brands or designer items, you might consider refining your search. 

“There are now many boutique charity shops; these shops can sometimes be celebrity fronted.” 

According to Lucy, they only except garments from high end expensive brands in immaculate condition but you can still get these fancy garms at a fraction of the original price. 

This is often where the rich and famous go to donate their clothes, apparently.

Don't forget about thrifting

It is also worth bearing in mind that many see charity shops as part of the world of thrifting. 

We have seen the birth of online second hand shops like Vinted, Depep and thriftplus. 

With the stores you eliminate the need of the middle man and communicate directly with the seller/donator. 

But you have the add benefit of filtering your search to items that will fit you style, shape and size.

Particularly popular with the younger generation, the thrifting wave has massively transformed fashion. 

With style for the 80s, 90s and even naughties finding their way back to our streets. 

So if you wanna be a trendsetter but don't have time to visit a charity shop have a look online for your next pre-loved bargain buy. 

What to donate?

Now if you're looking to donate, there's actually a few things charity shops don’t want. Lucy says: “There are a lot of things people don’t know when it comes to donating to charity.” 

She says a good rule of thumb when you're planning to donate to a charity shop is “Don't donate anything you wouldn't give a friend. Or even simpler, don't donate something you wouldn’t buy off the shelf yourself."

When it comes to clothes it’s very unhelpful if you donate clothes that are torn, ripped, mouldy, smelly, wet or damp.

Usually for a charity shop it's a lot more hassle than it's worth and they will end up having to pay for the clothes to be disposed of. 

Single shoes or trainers without laces also shouldn't be donated. 

Lucy says: “No one wants to buy them, a single shoe isn't useful to anyone."

Here’s a few other items which made the don't donate list that you might not know about. 

Nightwear without flammable warning – simply put Charity shops are not able to resell this as it is not considered safe. 

Knickers – You may think your knickers are safe to donate but actually they pose quite a few health risks and should not be reused. Bras however, are okay as long as they are in good condition which means no broken wire

Identifiable school uniform – This is really hard to resell, your more likely to find a new owner if you reach out directly to the school. 

Car seats and cot mattresses – You have to be licensed to sell these and a charity shop will not be able to speak on their condition. 

When it comes to what you should donate Lucy says keep it simple.

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Lucy says: “The more unconventional the item you donate the harder it will be to sell, if you bring a random fishnet costume that you’ve bought online what are the chance of someone else actually wanting to buy it”

Everything you donate has to go somewhere either getting sold off, or getting disposed of, only one of those options is useful to charity shops. 

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