Opportunity Shops – How charity shops have replaced my high street habit

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I love how the Australians call charity shops, opportunity shops.

For me it describes perfectly how I see them and use them.  Charity shops have popped up to replace ailing retailers all over the country and  many people feel it brings down the cache of a neighbourhood.  However, more of us are now shopping on line and less on our local high street and I would rather see a charity shop than an empty space, or another betting shop or a fourth coffee shop.

Other than the odd piece from H&M or ASOS (this is also becoming less and less), I have replaced my random shopping/addiction to having something new to do, cruising Charity shops.  I am evangelical about this and with social media constantly temping us to indulge there must be another way to avoid more and more cheap clothes seeping into our wardrobes.  I wish I could be like a lot of my friends, they only shop a few times a year, but I just adore the hunt and I am too old to change.

So if you are always stalking Zara, H&M, ASOS and Topshop you can find gorgeous pieces in all of these places, but if you are over 40 it should be a diminishing percentage of what you buy.  YOU CAN DO BETTER and that is what it is all about.  You can find better cuts/ fabrics and one of a kind pieces.  For the price of a Zara dress you can get a designer one.

Silk Shirt Cancer Research Marylebone

Silk Shirt, Cancer Research, Marylebone

I have found some lovely pieces in ASOS and H&M, but they don’t really last (other than my linen robe).  Once you wash them a few times they look sad and like what they actually are, cheap throw away fashion.

Charlotte Olympia Barnardo

Charlotte Olympia Barnardo

Running my preloved business, we simply can’t take in any high street items to re-sell, other than the odd special piece, as the shops slash prices so dramatically in the sales there becomes almost no market except for items priced under £10.  If you buy the designer bracelet like the Stella Jean one that I found at Cancer Research, which cost me £30 (was new and retails for over £150), you can sell it at any time if you tire of it…for the same price!  There is little, if any depreciation in buying quality pieces from charity shops.

Oxfam St Johns Wood

Oxfam, St. Johns Wood

Don’t forget that nearly all charity shops steam the clothing before it comes out on the shop floor.  That Zara dress will have been tried on so many times and often spends most of its time on the shop floor!!

Designer Shoes from Cancer Research

Designer Shoes from Cancer Research

Charities also really rely on the income from these stores to fund important research.  This makes my random shopping much less guilty!  Also it is a great way to volunteer and I know that I will be sending my children to work there once they are old enough.  If you do have some time on your hands, pop into your local shop and volunteer.

Shirts from Trinity Hospice Chelsea

Shirts from Trinity Hospice Chelsea

People complain about the high prices that some Charity Shops demand but they have to start high and if it sells at that price then great, more money for research.  Also, the prices have to be close or match those in preloved stores to avoid people hoovering the stock up at low prices and selling it on.

Cashmere Red Cross Chelsea

Cashmere, Red Cross, Chelsea

HOW TO SHOP:

  • The key is to pop into the stores regularly.  I pop in once a week and you get a feel for the type of stock that is regularly being donated. You can earmark your favourite stores, think of all the time you spend on those high street stores and invest some of that time instead popping into a charity shop
  • Take time to rifle through the rails and try things on
  • Look for silks/cottons and cashmere classic shirts, sweaters and simple little black dresses
  • You can return the item so take it home and if it doesn’t work, return it
  • It is worth getting things altered, I often buy something a size bigger and have it taken in or have the buttons replaced

 

WHERE TO SHOP IN LONDON: (worth making a detour)

Also check out Style Me in Seconds – the Instagram account of the Charity Retail Sector. All the charities have a list of shops on their sites which are dotted all over the country.

Whether it is clothes, shoes, accessories or household items, below are  some of the pieces that I spotted this week, with links to shop below, you can find everything from Isabel Marant to Ghost and loads of other top end brands .

Though I sell a lot of my clothes I also donate pieces regularly to all these stores and I always ask my clients to do the same.  I always clear before I buy and if one item comes in one gets donated or sold.  It is also crucial to have regular clear outs of your wardrobe.  I meet so many people with wardrobes crammed full of items that they never ever wear.  If it doesn’t make you feel great or you have something better then sell it or donate it.  High street shopping is a pointless addiction, it is like sugar, you consume but you never feel satisfied. 

Check out this video to see more of what I have found

 

SELL THEM OR DONATE THEM

Contact me on catwalkschoolgates@gmail.com if you need any more tips on how to clear or shop

 


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Anne Marie

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