Charity shops have long been considered the domain of the less well off, old-age pensioners, and those who have fallen on hard times, but not anymore. Now they are becoming the go-to store for a whole range of products by a growing sector of society. No longer sulking behind grimy windows with dark, poorly lit interiors akin to Soho sex shops, they are one of the fastest growing sectors in high streets that are otherwise collapsing.
Charities like Cancer Research UK not only have thousands of small charity shops, but include in their portfolio twenty large superstores located up and down the UK. To complement their range of normal fashion and accessories, Cancer Research UK also offer second user designer labels like Gucci, Burberry and Prada, donated by a growing number of celebrities like David and Victoria Beckham. While some of these expensive designer numbers are auctioned on sites like E-Bay, many find their way onto the clothing and accessory racks of Cancer Research UK superstores, at a fraction of their original price.
Nowadays, charity shops such as Cancer Research UK, are attracting a new type of clientele. Environmentally aware shoppers are turning away from the cheap, inferior, ‘fast fashion’ that, after a couple of washes, is consigned to the bin. Now, astute consumers enjoy the hunt for high quality, bargain fashion items, which look as good on as they did when new. Hard-up students are increasingly using charity shops, where good quality, hard wearing fashionable clothing, can be bought for just a few pounds.
Not everyone uses Cancer Research UK outlets on the hunt for Gucci, Burberry or Prada labels. People young and old love to dress up, and costume events are becoming increasingly popular. From historical re-enactment weekends, to nights of forties, fifties, and sixties music, where participants and audience dress in the vintage fashion of the time. Places like Cancer Research UK’s high street shops are great venues to seek out trousers, footwear, dresses, and tops of the period. Next time you’re in town, don’t just walk past the latest charity shop to open. Take five minutes, and browse round. You might be pleasantly surprised, and find that genuine Gucci bag you’ve always dreamt of.
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