How to buy vintage fashion and homewares in a charity shop

I want to start sharing some of my top tips for buying vintage when out and about. You are always telling me over on Facebook and Instagram that you cannot believe some of the small prices I spend on my collectables so I thought I would share some ideas with you. First off is how to buy vintage at a charity shop.

How to buy vintage at a charity shop

Charity shops used to be amazing but alas they are less so nowadays when looking for vintage. This is for a number of reasons but mainly due to the teams working there becoming more savvy and actively looking for items worth a bit more. They are researching, as we all do, on sites like eBay to get the valuation (not always the right one – more of that to follow). Here are my thoughts on how to bag a bargain at a charity shop.

What research to do before you start shopping in a charity shop

Not all charity shops are the same so it is worth establishing where to visit first. There are newly refurbished charity shops who tend to have higher price items (they have to pay for that refit after all) and also tend to stock a lot of new items. I find these are the ones where I find the least. What I look out for are:

The affluent charity shop: I love a charity shop in a posh town – the more affluent the better the booty! If you are craving a Hermes scarf you need to go to where the women who wear them (or used to wear them) live. This may mean that prices rise but if it is designer fashion then it will be worth it.

The charity shop that hasn’t changed for twenty years! The musty fusty charity shop is the best for finding vintage. You know the ones; where everything is piled up high and you have to really search. The teams are less likely to be the ones researching values too, so you can really find some treasure here. Often the stock isn’t even priced, so the bargains are to be had.

Kate Beavis vintage shopping

What to bring when shopping in a charity shop

Often we just rock up to charity shops (we have been known to quickly browse a whole towns shops on a whim) but a bit of preparation goes a long way. Especially for beginners in this sport!

Comfortable clothes: You need to be able to try on clothing quickly (charity shop shopping is all about speed!) so wear something comfortable but also something that you can get in and out of fast.

Small change: Bring cash! Some of the older charity shops only take a card if you spend a certain amount and if you just want a fabulous 99p bangle you need small change with you. Remember while you are trying to find a cash point, someone else is finding the bargains at the next shop.

Your phone: It is all about the research especially in charity shops who have done their homework already. If you find something that you like and maybe want to sell on, you need to check that you are paying the right price for it. When checking eBay for it’s worth make sure you look up how much items have sold for not what they are listed for. (Search/Refine Search/ Completed Items) This is what charity shops often do wrong – they price as to what other people are trying to sell for, resulting on items being over priced.

Kate Beavis vintage shopping

How to find the bargains in a charity shop

Modern charity shops often merchandise their stock by colour which I personally hate – I don’t go into a charity shop looking for red or blue, I go looking for vintage! However they display their wares, the main thing I do is to scan. Stand at the start of the fixture and look for textures that show it to be vintage. If I am looking at homewares, I again scan the shelves – I am now so quick at finding what I want (and most of the time, what I don’t want!)

Look for a vintage section: some shops have a “vintage” section which can help but beware! Often the things here aren’t vintage but look it, or the prices have been hiked.

Build a rapore: this is the most important thing when shopping for vintage at a charity shop. Chat to the staff! Share what you like and after time they will start to show you items that are out the back which hasn’t seen the shop floor yet. BINGO! This is your goal – they will sometimes get it wrong but be patient with them. After a while they will save you the vintage cream!

Kate Beavis vintage shopping

Check the cabinets: The higher price items get put in the cabinets but here is where you may find the valuables.

Getting the right price: Remember this is a charity shop and not a private seller so do not haggle. It is rude, end of. If you build a rapore, they may start to do you a deal as they trust you but remember the money exchanged is for charity!

Check the condition: Even though everything has been checked for stains and odours, sometimes things get missed so thoroughly check items before buying them. If something has a hole etc do feel free to point it out to the team, and they may discount it for you.

Don’t buy everything: This is the hard one! Just because it costs a pound doesn’t mean that you must have it! Try and think about what you will wear the item to, what you have to match with it, do you need another plate?

Hope this helps! Have you had any charity shop wins recently. Please do share them on social media with the hashtag #ihavethisthingwithvintage. I may start sharing some of my fashion buys and how I dress them up/down

Kate x

All image are by Amy Rose Photography


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