The nation let out a collective laugh when the government announced its foolproof solution to the financial crisis: “spend spend spend”. Spend our savings they said, throw away the nest egg. No thank you. Nowadays most people would rather invest in a sturdy mattress in which to stash their money. The Celtic Tiger brought with it the idea of a single use mentality, that we should spend our money. Why? Because we were young, we were metropolitan, and because, well, the tiger told us to do it.
Would you ever consider a trip to the local charity shop as a way to save money? Despite a recent drop in donations charity shops continue to raise funds for valuable organisations and while plenty of people happily donate their old clothes many still wouldn’t dream of spending an afternoon browsing the rails for bargains.
In the UK Oxfam have been trying to change people’s perception of charity shops by launching the Sustain Me! campaign. Fashion photographer Rankin teamed up with Leading stylist Katie Shillingford to restyle clothes handpicked from Oxfam’s recycling plant to put together a fashion shoot featuring celebrities like Heidi Klum, Jaime Winstone, Cat Deeley and Natalie Imbruglia to prove that the clothes people threw away still had some life in them. According to Oxfam the shoot was about “persuading us that charity shopping is cool, not merely for fashion students, stylists and creative types, who have long used them for inspiration, but for everybody.”
Last August Arctic Monkeys released their single ‘Crying Lightning’ in 700 of Oxfam shops across Ireland and the UK with all proceeds going to the charity’s lifesaving work throughout Africa.
Tips for charity shop beginners
1. Shop early in the week as most people donate on the weekends.
2. Learn to rummage. There’s no shame in getting stuck in.
3. Check out book sections. Books in pristine condition can always be sold on Amazon or ebay after you’ve read them.
4. Try not to look for anything specific. Murphy’s law dictates if you go in to a charity shop looking for something specific you won’t find it.
5. Some shops have specialist branches. Oxfam Home on Francis Street specialises in furniture. Most of it is in perfect condition, but if you’re a bit handy you can also fix up pieces to create something unique.
6. Ladies, don’t forget to check the men’s section for oversized knitwear or jackets.
7. Buy good quality stuff. Vests and plain tees are cheap enough in Penneys or Dunnes, the real bargains are the things you wouldn’t usually be able to afford.
8. Don’t be afraid to customise. If you find something you really love but it’s in the wrong colour you can always dye it. New buttons or belts can also give cardigans a new lease of life.
9. Don’t try and haggle in charity shops. At the end of the day it’s all for a good cause.
What €20 will get you in a charity shop
Monsoon Tunic, 100% silk bought for €8 in Barnardos Dun Laoghaire
Black Fringing handbag bought for €5 in Barnardos Dun Laoghaire
River Island Sandals bought for €5 in the Irish Cancer Society shop on Camden Street. Brand new with an original price tag of €33
Havainas flip flops bought for €2 in Oxfam in Dun Laoghaire