Sweet charity: how to spot charity shop bargains
- Created: 04 March 2015
At AnyClear, we aim to recycle, reuse and re-sell as much as we can from the premises we clear. When we come across good quality items that are not suitable for the auction house or a specialist vendor, we tend to pass these on to charity shops for other people to give them a second chance. So we have got to know how charity shops work pretty well.
Here are our top tips for snagging a bargain in your local charity shop.
Get to know your local shops
As with any type of shop in the retail sector, charity shops differ in character, so take time to browse your local ones and get a feel for what they sell. Some accept better quality items than others, and price accordingly. Others specialise in books or furniture, or vintage clothing – again, a couple of visits will give you enough information to get an idea of what you can expect to find in each one.
Check out the window display
A great way to start a relationship with your chosen charity shops is to see what they have in the window. If you like something, that may tempt you in. Charity shops tend to put on seasonal displays, aimed at inspiring you, e.g. for Valentine’s Day, Easter or the summer holidays. You may be able to spot prices in window displays too, so you can decide if you are happy to pay the requested amount before you even step through the door.
Check out anything you want to buy very carefully before handing over your hard-earned cash. Look for holes in clothes, or faults such as broken zips, missing buttons and stains. Look for chips and cracks in ornaments or missing pages in books. On the other hand, also look out for rare or potentially valuable items. These days, most charities have experts on hand to spot the high-value donations, but some still slip through the net. Some prior research into antique ceramics or first-edition books may pay dividends – quite literally.
Think outside the box
If you can’t see the item you are after immediately, think whether it can be fashioned out of something else in the shop. Or, if you spot an item of clothing styled in a way you dislike, but which is made from beautiful fabric, consider buying it and making it into something else at home. Furniture can be lifted with a coat of paint or wood stain; dated pictures can be replaced to refresh a stunning picture frame. Vintage china is very fashionable nowadays, and it needn’t all match.
If you don’t ask…
Finally, don’t be afraid to speak up in a charity shop, to ask if they are expecting any specific items in, or if they know more about something for sale. Trying to negotiate a discount is generally seen as bad form, since it will reduce the money given to the charitable cause, but you may be able to come to an arrangement if you are buying a lot of things at once, or the item is priced higher than you think is reasonable.