When you want to find all the high-street clothes shops in your area you can just do a quick google search and you know what you're in for because they're the same everywhere. However, with charity shops each one is ran slightly differently, even if it's the same name above the door. Your Oxfam at home might be just a pile of granny cardis but the one a town over can be a gold mine (no offence to granny cardis). It's tough going to a new place and not knowing the ins-and-outs of the local charity shops. As someone who's always trying to put the message out/harass people online constantly about sustainable fashion I want to give you the total in-depth low-down student friendly guide to the charity shops in Lancaster, along with some examples of great stuff you can find in them.
I've been in them all, some more often than others - and you'll get to know the reasons why in a minute. In the picture on the left you'll see the ten charity shops in Lancaster's town centre. They're all within two minutes walk of each other too, so if you have a spare hour you should do a crawl of them all - I do it all the time.
I'm going to tell you about each shop and my personal opinions about them - and just because they're charitable that doesn't mean I will be. I'll also be including images of some cool pieces I found while out today. In no particular order, here they are:
1. CANCER RESEARCH
Ol' reliable. It's ok, and always has a lot of stuff but I've just never actually bought anything from here. Everything's ... mediocre. If you need a last minute piece to finish off a costume for a social the likelihood is you'll find it here, but you won't find any amazing or unique pieces, just last year's H&M. And personally, I don't wanna see any H&M.
It's got good stuff. It just doesn't have great stuff. Sorry Cancer Research.
2. ST JOHN'S HOSPICE & THE POUND SHOP
Today I found this very 2000s super cool Jane Norman dress. Most of the voters on my story thought this was a 'ditch' not a 'thrift'. Yeah, you wouldn't be saying that if it was on Urban Outfitters would you, you sheep.
It's definitely something Ashley Tisdale would have worn over jeans.
How long until that trend comes back? I shudder to think.
This hot pink graphic-tee screamed 2000s to me, and I knew if I left it at the pound shop I'd have major regrets, especially as it was only £1. Imagine it with a denim mini skirt or low rise jeans - the 2000s depop girlies would be quaking in their boots.
I've got a social coming up and was totally lacking costume ideas. Now I've found this I'm going to pair it with some pink chord trousers I found in Scope and be Elle Woods from Legally Blonde - all I need now is a dog, some wedges, and a law textbook!
St. John's Hospice is an underdog - sometimes overpriced - but an underdog nonetheless. I've got so many great things from both their main shop and from their discount pound shop. It's also got a good layout and isn't cramped - which is key in the experience - I hate being all cramped and flustered.
Speaking of cramped and flustered ....
When you enter this shop you get a blast of hot air, you start sweating and you don't stop. There's one reason I avoid this shop and that it because it makes me so uncomfortable. It's hot, it's cramped and the clothes are organised by colour. Not by size, not by style, but by colour. I hate it. If you approach a rail you'll find a size 14 top followed by a size 8 dress followed by a size 12 shirt all because they happen to be pink and its all too much. My anxiety alarm goes ding ding ding.
I say all that but today I grit my teeth for the purpose of this post and found a gorgeous floral slip dress in there for £1. However, my sanity is worth more than a bargain, so I will still avoid Banardo's.
Don't tell my boyfriend but I'm planning on wearing this on Valentines day next week - if it fits. I've still not tried it on because my room's too cold - listen here first year students, do NOT get a house without bills being included next year.
4. SCOPE & BRITISH HEART FOUNDATION
They're right next to each other, like a couple. I'd describe their relationship as one of those that get comments like "Why is that hot babe with that loser?". Scope is a hot babe, BHF is a loser. Sorry,
Scope has the good shit always, I'm in there all the time.
BHF doesn't tend to have anything to attract me - I don't think I've ever found anything in there I'd even consider buying.
One thing both places have in common is that quite often they get deliveries of unsold brand new clothes from high street stores, so if you like pretty little thing, but not their prices (or ethics but that's a whole other thing) they are great options.
BHF is great for coats, and Scope always has nice jumpers and skirts - I once got a stunning green mohair jumper from there, which has been on my Instagram more times than I can count.
What do you think of this belted cargo skirt in Scope? It would be great for festivals, a costume or clubbing - check out the pockets!
5. Salvation Army
I found a stunner of a piece here. Tell me that diamante studded skirt isn't cool! I'm starting to really regret leaving it there especially as I've been looking for a denim skirt for months.
This shop always has a great range, nice layout and good vibes. I've nearly bought that red dress in the window about twelve times already. I don't think I've bought anything from here yet, but I do often find great stuff - I'm just very careful about getting clothes I know I'll wear a lot. It's a high street staple to have a Salvation Army, and I think this one earns its keep.
"Cara, the picture you've added is with the shutters down."
The shutters are always down. This shop gets a low rating from me because I can never get in there - I didn't even know it existed until a few months ago. The hours it operates on are so slim, that unless I have absolutely no uni or work on any given day there is 0 chance of getting in. At the moment it runs from around 10am - 3pm, and even though I stopped by today at 12 to take a picture, it was shut.
It's quite a small shop, and I suppose they have staffing issues, but I wouldn't get too upset about not seeing the inside of this one - I've never found anything particularly good.
7. Animal Care
Oh ho ho Animal Care, the things I have to say about you. They'll put a pair of battered second hand shoes up for £15 and not bat an eye. I believe the staff think they work for Gucci, and have gotten slightly confused, because not only are the prices sky-high, the staff are quite rude. It's almost as if they want those poor animals to die, and it wouldn't surprise me either. I'll be honest - I've never seen anything I'd buy in that shop, but whether it's out of curiosity or malice I still go in. It gets on my nerves that there's a beautiful mosaic at the door of their shop, which they definitely don't deserve to have, and I hope whoever designed it is rolling in their grave.
I went out today with the purpose of finding something interesting from every charity shop and to share it with you. BHF didn't get one because, and I'll be truthful, I couldn't figure out how to format it. It was a black faux fur coat, in case you were wondering.
In Animal Care I found a very Molly-Mae-esque brown pleather skirt, which I assume blew in off the street, as the shop is usually filled with nothing interesting at all.
I know, I know, sustainable fashion and Molly-Mae don't exactly go hand in hand, but I know some of you guys would have looked at that skirt and thought "ew". And now, because you've seen those pictures of Molly in brown leather, you think it's cute. Also I love her, I won't lie. You can't be trendy and do the whole charity shop thing, so it's ok to get inspo from other people, even if they aren't perfect.
It shut at twelve today, which was unfortunate as I turned up at half-past. This Oxfam is more centred on home-ware, so going for clothes is a bit pointless, as their stock tends to be a bit poultry. There's also an Oxfam bookshop just a few doors down too, if that interests you. Again, this is one of the shops I tend not to bother going into, as I don't think I've ever seen anything good here. However, if you're looking for home-ware - cushions, crockery, etc - this is the place to be.
9. Defying Dementia
This is another one I don't venture into often. When I went in today I saw a gorgeous shacket, which if it wasn't a cheeky £7 (or there about) I might have snapped it up.
Also, the staff here are so friendly, much friendlier than the staff at some other local establishments (cough cough Animal Care).
I was once walking through town with a giant toy dinosaur (his name is Roary btw) and because it was raining I kept dashing in and out of shops to keep Roary dry, which is how I first came across this one.
It is in fact pay-day tomorrow, so if you see me cutting about in a sweet new jacket and diamante skirt you know why. But, I wouldn't be surprised if someone has snapped them up this afternoon. Maybe tomorrow morning I'll get up at the crack of dawn to nab them before anyone else can...