This is an official game plan, for properly navigating secondhand shops, to find the clothes you actually want.
Know what you’re looking for – don’t walk into secondhand stores without something in mind to search for. Perhaps you want a new coat or a dress, so you should have an idea of the style and image you’re going for.
Don’t waste time in the wrong sections – most shops will divide the clothes up by size, category and even colour. Take a turn around the shop to check the layout and then go straight for the sections that apply to you and your tastes.
Give it a second chance – it’s best to go over a section twice because you might have missed something the first time.
Look over each piece carefully – don’t leave the shop with items that are stained, discoloured, moth-eaten or the wrong size. It’s not worth your money to bring them home. Thankfully most secondhand shops will only sell clothes that are in brilliant condition.
Look for special offers and sales – some shops will have 1/2 price sales on certain rails or on particular days of the week, so you might find you’re paying even less than what the tag says.
Just leave – If you’ve looked over the entire coat section twice and the bomber jacket you want isn’t there, just leave! Don’t stick around, thinking that if you look hard enough, it will magically appear. This is how people become frustrated with secondhand shops and miss out on potential treasures in the future.
Things to note:
Can’t find what you want? – Move onto the next charity shop and search again. Don’t give up hope, the pieces you want will turn up eventually.
Don’t expect to find the latest trends straight away, it takes a few weeks before they filter into secondhand shops, either because someone purchased the wrong size or they discovered it doesn’t suit them.
Secondhand shopping is not suitable for someone who only wants the newest trends and then wishes to discard the piece once it goes out of fashion.
The three best items you’ll find secondhand are coats/jackets, dresses and jumpers.
The men’s section is a treasure trove for oversized shirts and comfy sweaters.
Look for high quality textiles such as silk, leather and wool, these often cost pennies compared to other retailers.
The secondhand shops are better in the UK than they are in Ireland, so if you live there or you are planning a trip across the pond, don’t miss out on the opportunity to buy a whole new wardrobe for little expense.
If you live in Galway, Ireland…
You’re looking for a new leather jacket or a jumper? Go to Second Chances in Galway City. They have loads!
Need a nice dress or top? Look in The Cancer Research Society shop and then swing around the corner to Enable Ireland’s charity shop. These shops are so well-organised.
The best charity shop, in my opinion? NCBI in Tuam, Co. Galway. The outlet in Galway City can often have nice pieces as well, but the one in Tuam is better. Maybe it’s a small town thing.
I hope this helps you find secondhand shopping less daunting. It’s important that you don’t get caught up looking at clothes you don’t like or that won’t fit you, because it will just leave you disappointed. Make sure to keep an open mind and to know what you want, as this greatly reduces your time spent looking and prevents bad purchases.
Good luck with your shopping! ‘Til next time!