Rethinking second-hand stuff. Charity shops

So I know that we all prefer for our belongings to be shiny and new-of course we do- but that doesn’t mean that ‘second-hand’ or ‘preloved’ are dirty words.
It’s always a good idea to have a look and see how the price of new compares to the price of second-hand. So let’s discuss charity shops.

When I was little, I was mortified when my mum dragged me into a charity shop. If anyone from school would have seen me going in, I would have died on the spot. Now I get it.

Yes, charity shops are a place where people send their unwanted goods, and yes they do get a lot of crap, but they also get a lot of good things. When prices are a fraction of what you would pay new, it’s worth a go. So let’s leave the ego at the door and delve in.

Kid’s clothes

Kid’s grow really fast, and the younger they are the faster they grow. This invariably means that unless people are planning for more kids and are holding on to baby clothes, they’re going to be offloading a tonne of clothes every year, most with minimal wear. Don’t be afraid to have a look.

This was brand new with tags. It cost £22 new. It cost me £1

I would highly recommend the Homestart shop on Ann Street in Ards for kids clothes. They have good stuff and it’s well laid out, so you can easily find a bargain.


Brand new prams are expensive. The pram we liked in Mothercare was £600. Charity shops sell them for less than £80 or so. My mum picked up a gorgeous double buggy for me in Newtownards. It needed a damn good clean, but now it looks almost brand new. Brand new it would have cost about £300. It didn’t cost a tenth of that.


Ok, ok. Be careful with shoes. You only get one pair of feet in your life so don’t go mistreating them. Every individual wears shoes in a different way (that’s how police can identify a criminal from shoeprints) so wearing a well worn pair of shoes is a bad idea. That said, it’s easy to see if a pair of shoes are at the end of their lives. Many people donate shoes without ever wearing them- they get the size wrong or don’t go to the event they were bought for- so don’t be afraid to take a look.

These cute shoes from my local Concern shop had to be snapped up! Ignore the white fleck on the toe, that was a petal I didn’t see when I snapped the photo
Look inside, there’s no sign of these being worn and they’re genuine leather
No wear to the soles at all. And they’re M&S
And this was the princely price I had to pay for them.

DVDs and books
You can pick up DVDs and books for pennies. Buy them, watch them and donate them back.


There are charity shops that specialize in furniture, such as the one near the top of Ormeau road (Concern, I think) or the Re:store shop in Connswater shopping centre. These are great if you are starting out or if you’re into upcycling. There’s also an Aladdin’s cave in the Balloo industrial estate in Bangor, but I can’t remember what it is. I’ll find out and get back to you.

New items

I’m sure it’s true for many charity shops, but I’ve noticed it most in Oxfam. Shops donate tonnes of unsold seasonal goods to clear space for new stuff. Generally, there will be 4 or 5 of an item in various sizes.

Some good tips

  • Shop in affluent areas, such as Hollywood and Bangor. You might have to pay a little more, but you’ll find more brand names in these shops.
  • Shop in poorer areas too. The prices tend to be better. Larne, for example, is fantastic value.
  • If buying shoes and the shop keeps one behind the counter, check both before you buy- they are likely to have put the nicest one on display.
  • Pop in once a week or so to see what’s on sale. There’s a fast turnover so the goods change often. It’s been suggested that Tuesdays are a good day to go as the stores will have sorted the goods donated at the weekend.

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