For anyone who doesn’t reside in the UK, a charity shop is much like the British equivalent of an American thrift shop. It’s a term that describes a shop whose stock relies on the donations of other people, who’ll pass their old, used items to them where they’ll be sold at super-low prices, the profits of which go to the shop’s namesake charity.
You can get all sorts of stuff there, and it really varies on a shop-to-shop basis. Book lovers will know that they’re a great resource for second-hand literature and trendy fashionistas will flock to them for cut-price label items.
The one thing you need for most charity shops is patience. It’s your job to sort the rubbish from the great items, as most shops won’t sort that stuff for you, but if you’ve got that in spades, London is a great place for picking up hidden gems.
Here are my picks of the best areas for charity shopping in England’s bright capital.
The centre of Finsbury park is awash with a few things – quirky food shops, Arsenal FC fans, and charity shops.
Finsbury park is really easily accessible by public transport, being on the Victoria and Piccadilly lines, and having national rail links, so it’s easy to get to, despite being a little way out for tourists. It’s well worth a visit for charity shop bargain hunters, though, as it boasts a cluster of great ones. These ones are best for high street-branded women’s clothing, and are all small enough to be manageable.
Barnet High Street
Being as it is, at the end of the High Barnet branch of the Northern line, High Barnet is, undeniably, a trek and a half, but if you have the stamina to make the journey, you’re in for a real treat. Barnet High Street features a whole line of charity shops stretching across its length, making it a convenient place to spend the day. You can work your way from one end to the other, and find a vintage junkie’s dream in each and every shop.
Book lovers would also do well to make the trip, as every shop has an extensive selection of books on offer.
Somewhat unsurprisingly, Chelsea, being one of the wealthiest areas in London, boasts some of its best charity shops.
A number of the charity shops in London’s west end are self-styled second hand boutiques, featuring cast-offs from Vivienne Westwood, Jaeger, Barbour, and lush antique furnishings.
Up North, Highgate boasts some of London’s most expensive real estate, and charity shops featuring items by Hugo Boss and Nicole Farhi. The Green Room is a particular must-visit, boasting vintage jewellery of all kinds that has the potential to turn you into an accessorizing genius with change from a twenty pound note.
Making the trip up is a bit of a pain, but if you’ve got the will, you’ll be glad you made the effort.