Monday, 18 June 2012

Things We Learned: Whilst Charity Shop Hopping

Becky Black is 23 and from south London. She's one of the most creative people I know. At the beginning of this year she came back from a month long trip to New Zealand, broke, and not to be deterred from one of her favourite pastimes (shopping, and putting together new outfits) she began a new project, which she's named 'Charity Shop Hopping'.

"Well, it all kind of started when I came back from holiday, and I didn't have any money. And I really like going shopping and having new things in my wardrobe. But I didn't really have any money to go shopping - and working where I do is really hard because there's a big shopping centre nearby and you kinda want to go shopping all the time. So I thought, okay, I'll start going to charity shops. I know loads of people who do it, and they have some really nice things. Some really unique things too. So I started doing that, and I've done it every since. "

Dress £3, originally from M&S

Have you made any rules?

"I don't buy new things from shops anymore apart from jeans and shoes and underwear. I'll go to places where things are second hand, like vintage shops and markets, and when my sister threw out loads of her clothes, I nabbed some of her shoes. "

Tell us about some of your best finds...

"This really nice dress, it's definitely one of my favourite finds (holds up a black velvet and lace minidress). I got this at Marie Curie in Bromley. I'm going to wear it to my friend's wedding reception. And a lot of things - this jacket I absolutely love (holds up a dark grey cotton blazer with studs on the shoulders. When I go to normal shops I always only look at my size. But at charity shops you look at EVERYTHING. This is a size 14 but it's kind of got that boyfriend jacket sort of shape to it on me. And I really like it. Usually I would never pick this out if it wasn't in my size. But at a charity shop it was £3 - total bargain. "

Dress £3 from Marie Curie Cancer Care shop. Bag £4 originally from Hennes.

Do you have any tips?

"I pick high streets where there are several charity shops, and I call it a 'charity shop hop' - going down the street from shop to shop. I just go in all of them and look at everything. Even guy's stuff, because you never know what sort of cool shirts you might find. "

"It's a way to save money, but to still go shopping. And I got quite bored of all the things that were coming out on the high street. I would go into a shop and think 'I don't like anything in here'. Then I would go into a charity shop and think how many great things there were. You do find a lot of rubbish. But there are some gems in there as well. You have to go through them all. But it's good fun. You find some good things. Like this bag! (Excitedly holds up a beautiful, 1960's style red bag). And it's a clutch bag too! The strap comes off! It's old H&M. It's a bit damaged round the edges, but you have to expect that sometimes. It adds to the charm, adds a bit of story. "

"I always pay with cash. I'm sure they take debit cards but I've never looked. The best thing about it is - it's all so cheap. The other day I went into a shop and bought three things and I spent £10. "

Have you got any favourite shops?

"There's no particular favourites...when you do a charity shop hop you sort of notice how different shops do things differently. Some really make the effort to display things and make them look nice and put things in order. And some just throw them out there and sort of say, 'off you go...'.

It started off as a new years resolution, but I think it's something I'm going to do all the time. I've really enjoyed it. You can get some really nice things, and everyone goes 'where did you go that?' and you say 'charity shop!' and they say 'oooh' and more people are likely to go there the more you talk about it.

And you're doing a good deed every time you go shopping. Rather than just spending £30 on a top that doesn't go to a good cause."

Becky definitely knows how to take the M off the front of 'Mundane'. Try it today. You never know what you might find...

All photographs by Iris Jones Photography.


  1. I love charity shopping! Cassie mostly wears designer clothing and people comment about we can afford it, but to be honest I pick up about 60-70% of her clothing from charity shops. Today I got a next lined polka dot dress that originally retailed at £28 for £2.50 and a fleece that was originally £18 (Matthew Williamson) for £1.00.
    I buy most of my tops from there as well...though our charity shops seem to still charge £10 for a dress.

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