You’re a poor student who is tired of wearing the same jeans you had in transition year and you’re looking for some new threads to wow that absolute ride in your course, but you’re down to twenty quid a week, and clothing is expensive, right? Wrong! Here is your comprehensive guide to the seemingly little-known treasure trove that is charity shops.
Tricks of the trade-Things to know before you hit the (charity) shops
- Generally: the more known the charity, the better the options. Some shops are more expensive than others, but everything is still cheaper than retail.
- The first time you go, it can be overwhelming. Fun fact: it’s ridiculously easy to spend much more than intended when everything is less than a fiver. Make a budget and stick with it.
- It’s also easy to buy things you will never wear because they’re so cheap, but this isn’t particularly cost-effective. When the inevitable happens and you open your bag to find a hideous excuse for a cocktail dress staring back at you, donate it back and try not to smile when you see a fresher wearing it at the Arts ball two weeks later.
- The thing about charity shops is that everything you get is a one-off, so going frequently is key to getting the good stuff. Good times to go are usually a week or three after the sales are on – everyone’s getting rid of their old clothes or new clothes that they have decided they don’t want.
- Do NOT ask for a discount, or haggle with the cashiers. It’s phenomenally cheeky to ask for a discount on clothing when they’re already cheap, and all the proceeds going to charity. Don’t be that guy. No-one likes that guy.
- In the same vein, do not ask to return an item for a refund. If you’re giving something back, donate it again. Remember, the money goes to charity and the people working are usually volunteers.
- Charity shops have sales and special offers too. Barnardos on North Main Street offers a loyalty card that you get when you spend €5, and it works like the stamp cards you get for Coffee Dock: fill it and get a €5 credit-note in store. Most shops have a sales rack for discounted items up all the time, in addition to normal sales.
- Not all charity shops accept card, so be sure to hit the ATM before you go.
It’s not just clothes, either. You can get just about anything you want in a charity shop: shoes, home wares, books; I found an ice cream maker once! It’s hard being a student with little to no cash flow, but that doesn’t mean you have to look like it. Get out, treat yourself to something new (ish) and wear it with pride; you’ve earned it.