“Charity shops are often popular with people who are frugal, people who live on a limited or fixed income, collectors, and people with unusual tastes.” – Wikipedia

“I blame the credit crunch.” – everybody

Charity shop til you drop, from dogfrogs creative commons licensed photostream

Charity shop til you drop, from dogfrog’s creative commons licensed photostream

Charity Shop Tourism is for those who understand the pleasures of finding something old in somewhere new. It’s for the environmentally-friendly, the wallet watchers, the philanthropists, the tourists in search of destinations that are new – doesn’t matter what it’s like once you get there, as long as it’s new.

I thought I’d put together a little record of the places I go when I have a day out with the wife, because invariably I’m found perusing through people’s leftover clothes, records, bric-a-brac, whilst exploring a new place; and that’s how I have my frugal fun – and it’s nigh on the best way to have an explore of this country of ours. Having all but given up buying new books and CDs, I’m currently wrestling with clothes – I’ve now found the holy grail of secondhand jeans in my weird size, but it might be a while before I can face charity shop undergarments. When I’m charity shopping with herself, I’ll also be looking for: more books; olde maps; CDs and records; stripy shirts; new ways of making coffee; all the corduroy jackets in the world; the occasional fancy from the tat shelf.

This blog is about the places I visit and the things I find there, in the shops and outside, and it’s excuse to play with maps (here). What it’s NOT is any sort of guide to where the best bargains can be found, or a guide to thrifty living – I’m deeply incompetent at that – and it’s not in any sense objective (or even fair, usually). Thanks for visiting though, do say hello and send me a recommendation in the comments boxes.

And remember, it’s only a bargain if you need it.

Maps and days out

Charity Shop Tourism

A day out in the Chilterns

A day out in South-West Essex

A day out in Oxfordshire

A day out in South-West London


41 responses to “Philosophy

  1. Dudley

    Been doing this for a few years now.

    In my experiance though, Oxfam music and book shops in rural areas are often more expensive than actually ‘propper’ book and music shops. £4.99 for a second hand book? Give me the 25p a book prices of the London and Liverpool shops.

    One area I think charity shops need to work on, is all the free cds they get from newspapers and magazines, the ones no one wanted nor will ever want again. Maybe they could send the shops staff on a creative CD sculpture course or some such? There must be something they can be used for.

    I agree that Leamington is indeed well provided with charity shoppage.

  2. ohsimone

    Who doesn’t want an entire shoebox full of Daily Mail giveaways?

    Me, that’s who. Ah well, it’s part of the challenge. I agree partly with you via Oxfam: they know the right price of things, but you can still pick up a bargain, as well as some nice old collectables.

  3. Pingback: Updates « Charity Shop Tourism

  4. How have you not been to Cobham? Home of Chelsea FC, Shell executives and stockbrokers.

    Charity shops must be worth a look. There’s at least four in the town.

  5. Naama

    I’ve lived in London in the past, and next week I’m coming to visit my favorite city in the world.
    Being a fan on charity shops, with limited cash on my hand, and a love for wondering the streets of London, do you have any recommendations for the best charity shops in town? I’m particularly interested in books, music and cloths (for women)

  6. ohsimone

    Well presuming you’re after central London, the best cluster is in Marylebone. Not the cheapest you’ll find, but quite good nonetheless. Also good is the Oxfam bookshop near the British museum.

    If you want to get out a bit, I recommend Richmond and Twickenham, Golders Green or there’s an interesting looking bunch in the Clapham/Balham/Wandsworth area that I’ve not got to yet.

    • Butting in to say that I’ve had some great luck with charity shops along/around Clapham High Street (including the world’s most gorgeous Karen Millen cocktail dress for fifteen pounds) – there’s 3 or 4 on the street itself and another one nearby….

  7. This is the first time I comment here and I should say that you give genuine, and quality information for bloggers! Good job.
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  8. velochick

    I tend to go for books and clothes.. sometimes you can get some great stylish jackets, worth more than some of the modern shops. I also like boardgames and you can come across some good ‘collector’s items’. I suppose I fit in all your categories but if I had won the lottery, I’d still come into the charity shop for a wander and I think I’d rather spend my money on say, Hospice in the Weald that some rich Chainshop owner. It is also a friendly place to come to, unlike a lot of the newer shops.

  9. Noel Lynch

    Why don’t you visit The Green Room at 192 Archway Road, N6 (only 200 yards down hill from Highgate Tube)?

    Open 7 days per week 10qm-6pm and often later.

    The Green Room has been described as ‘the most unusual shop in London’ (Time Out); A Treasure Trove’ (Ham & High) and ‘An Alladin’s Cave’ (Hornsey Journal).

    Because there is very little pedestrian traffic in the area, we specialise in the unusual and quirky items that people will remember and tell other people.

    We do not sell clothes, apart from unusual items like Cherie Blair’s outfit. We do stock thousands of books with a special offer of 40 for £10 – pick your own. Likewise we have a huge stock of vinyl – most at £1.

    On the more unusual side we have: Dinosaur Dung. Dinosaur Egg. Fossil Fish. Meteoroits. Phrenology Head. Antique newspapers including one of 1690 and another issued during the siege of Mafeking. A Maggie Thatcher nut cracker. Political memorabilia. Document signed by Tony Blair and another signed by James Early Ray (assassin of Martin Luther King). Old Banknotes. Ancient Ushabi. Tony Benn’s pipe – autographed. Roman coins including one issued by Pontius Pilot in 27ad. A brick issued for the wedding of Charles & Diana and so on.
    Noel Lynch (manager)
    All profits go to environmental causes.

  10. excellent idea for a blog! my local tip is Walworth Rd – it has minimum 3 – I think it even has 4 – a Salvation Army, something for deaf people, something else and possibly something else.

    Maybe you’ll buy something I donated.

    The Green Room sounds ace too.

  11. Pingback: When the shirt off my back is not enough – unless it’s Versace « Someone a little nicer

  12. While ever there is a box of lp’s in the corner and shelf of books in a charity shop,I’ll Be A Happy Camper 🙂 My Town Of Sheffield has Bucketloads of Charity shops And I Must Admit To Being A Bit Of A Adict ,So This Blog Is A Great Bit Of Work 😀

  13. I love this blog
    Being a thrifty shopper myself I’m trying to live the second hand life. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to buy second hand underwear (although you can upcycle t-shirts into knickers 😉 )

  14. Kim

    I just wanted to say thanks for this brilliant site. This is like the holy grail of blogs for me as I love to shop in charity shops. While I agree with some of your other posters about the price of books in Oxfam I still feel I’d rather pay the cover price in there and the money go to a good cause than pay the cover price to some faceless supermarket etc.

    I love this site – keep up the great work!

  15. If you want a walk with a purpose round some of these towns try using our Trails – I guarantee you will go past charity shops!!

  16. Rose

    hiya, love the site

    Did you ever make it to East Barnet?
    I also recommend Southgate, not far from Wood Green. Southgate has about 5, East Barnet maybe 3- best one is at the bottom of Cat Hill.

  17. ohsimone

    Not made it yet, distracted by a new allotment… Southgate I know well though:

  18. Joe

    I do the West Hampstead and Golders Green Charity Shops fairly regularly (238 Bus between them), I got 5 nice check shirts a Fred Perry T-shirt and a book with change from £25 last week.

    I’d also suggest Eastbourne as a place to visit, my elderly parents are there and the demographic appears to imply a good flow of stock into the Charity Shops.

  19. Great blog. I’m in a sewing group based in Leamington Spa. Many of our members regularly search the charity shops for clothes they can alter or for the fabric, china, wool, books and so on. Our theme for 2011 is reuse and recycle. I believe Leamington has a great selection of charity shops but I’d also like to add Kenilworth as a place well worth visiting – it’s only a mile or two from Leamington, a much smaller town but plenty of charity shops – well worth visiting!

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  21. Christine

    Came across your blog while searching for charity shops. I’ve got a day’s holiday on Friday and am spending it in Dorking, Leatherhead and Worcester Park which between them have 22 charity shops. I’ve not visited any of these places before so it’ll be interesting to see what they’re like and what their shops have to offer. I love doing this sort of thing, it is indeed charity shop tourism. PS I live in Wimbledon, which also has a good selection of charity shops. There are two up in the classy Wimbledon Village area and in the main town there are another five. It’s nice to have a change of scene though. I’ll let you know how I get on.

  22. ohsimone

    Please do! I’ve driven through WP I think, but never stopped – it’s been recommended though.

  23. Delibelly

    My mother lives in Leatherhead, the charity shops are close together and almost always have something for myself and my husband!

    I would wholeheartedly recommend a morning in Southsea and then onto Fareham for the afternoon’s shopping.

    Rochester has 6 all along the High Street, then to make a day of it I would suggest then popping into Chatham for the 4 there and then end up in Gillingham for the 5 there! The PDSA in Gillingham isn’t in the High Street but worth stopping off at.

    Just off the Blackheath now!

  24. Thank you – this is a great find! For a frugal young professional living in London I may be looking for slightly different items in the charity shops but it’s so useful to know which areas to prioritise my bargain-hunting!

    If/when you visit Dorset, Shaftesbury does indeed have plenty of charity shops as does the market town, Wimborne (which some would argue is essentially just charity shops, estate agents and pubs!)

    Keep up the exploring!

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  26. Oooh your blog is right up my street! I love nothing more than going in every charity shop that a town has to offer. The cheaper the better! You need to come to Greater Manchester – plenty of shops up here & very reasonable prices.
    I have just started my first blog about the vintage treasures that I find in charity shops

  27. ohsimone

    Well – am in Manchester for a Very Exciting Thing in June, so any recommendations gratefully received.

  28. Jenny Williams

    New Milton has a good array of charity shops, the usual suspects, British Heart Foundation, Oxfam etc and Scope who seem to have gone all corporate and minimalist but still good bargains to be found

  29. Your blog has very unique and highly specialized detailed information. This is an example of brillian thematic blog. Thank You!

  30. The Driver

    One day, I will reveal to my readers the precise location of the most excellent Secret Animal Charity Shop… I keep a catalogue of strange purchases, jumble sale finds and other secondhand/swapped/scavenged bargains from the Brighton/Sussex area (and beyond) at . Happy hunting!

  31. I’m nominating you for an award in my 6pm post tomorrow. Great blog!

  32. Sarah Heather

    Love your philosophy, my husband and I have been devout charity shoppers for some years now and haven’t bought clothes new for at least 2 years because of our addiction (and frugal attitude!). I’ve noticed you haven’t been to Sussex (from what I can tell), which is shocking because the whole county has masses of charity shops. Eastbourne especially is a goldmine! Last time we went there we counted 27. We got there at 10am, left at 5pm and still didn’t have enough time to go to all of them. A must! Also, Lewes has a lot of charity shops which are very rewarding.

  33. Caroline Cornell

    I love this site, and often use it when planning days out. Second-hand is not just a hobby, but my business, as my husband and I own Cornell Books in Tewkesbury, which you so kindly mentioned in your June review. So glad you like our shop.
    Caroline Cornell

  34. egypt6590

    If your London based and don’t want to go too far Amersham (last station in zone 9, 35 mins on the train) has at least 5, I grew up there and both my parents volunteered in Cancer Research, from then on I have not really been able to shop successfully in normal shops. I’ve since converted my boyfriend to this way of life and we are always looking for new areas. Chesham is only a short drive from Amersham and also has at least five charity shops although the quality is not as good.

  35. I love your blog! I enjoy looking for a bargain but am fed up with Eastleigh where I live. It’ a bit of a hole with loads of charity shops but they are all poorly stocked and smell. Please, don’t ever bother with Eastleigh! I see you haven’t made it to Dorset though. If you do venture down to the south I’d recommend Dorchester. It’s a nice town in itself with the shopping area pretty compact. Parking doesn’t cost an arm and a leg and there are some sweet little tea rooms to have a rest in. I believe there is a parking charge refund scheme that some of the shops participate in. I can’t remember it’s name but there is a second hand/vintage items shop and upstairs they have a tea room using mix and match old tea sets. lists some of the charity shops but not all. There are a number on the main shopping streets but also a few tucked away down little side streets which often have little gems! I tend to find a good selection of books and the shelves are well stocked. Clothing tends to be pretty good quality too.

  36. Just discovered this blog and love it.. being an old hand at charity shop shopping myself. I rarely buy anything new ( except undergarments naturally! oh and shoes because that’s always a difficulty for me at the best of times ) 😀

  37. Lucy

    Having just spent a delightful 3 days exclusively shopping in Charity shops in Loughborough and Beeston (Nottingham) I wondered if anyone has come up with a verb for this activity. I’ve heard the word “Brevitt”, which almost says what I mean, or suggest “Threvitt”- anyone have any other suggestions?

  38. Pingback: Oxfam, learn some manners… | Dawn of the Unread

  39. Pingback: Charity Shops, On being a Clothing Maverick & My New Best Friend | My WordPress site

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