5 of the best charity shops in SE London & some top charity shopping tips too
Updated: Feb 13
If you are looking for something to wow the judges of our Best Outfit Competition at Haven’t Stopped Dancing Yet or clothes (and lots more) for every day, charity shop shopping makes sense on so many levels. It’s often cheaper, more eco-friendly and it raises money for good causes too.
If you’ve not been to a charity shop for a while you will be pleasantly surprised. Back in 2008 Mary Portas, aka “Queen of Shops”, gave Save the Children shops a makeover and others followed suit. Many shops now look more like trendy independent boutiques than the charity shops of old. There’s now even a charity shop gift card thecharityshopgiftcard.co.uk . The number of places where you can use the card is growing all the time but at the moment it includes Crisis, Traid and Shelter.
And Wayne Hemingway has created Charity Super.Mkt @charitysuper.mkt where you’ll find lots of charity shops under one roof. They launched with a pop-up in the old Topshop in Brent Cross and the plan is to have more in the future.
But before you grab a tote bag and head out, we asked HSDY partygoer and blogger, the very fabulous Dolly www.brokedirtyblonde.com, who describes herself as a stylist and “Merchant of Joy”, to share a few of her top tips for successful charity shop shopping. You can see some of her finds on her Instagram: @brokedirtyblonde and she has very kindly agreed to let you in on her secrets.
Dolly’s top charity shopping tips
⚡ Timing is everything. Regular visits pay off, especially during the week when shops may be quieter. Be friendly and if you’re a loyal customer, staff may put things aside for you. Ask when they get new stock in.
⚡ Scan and rummage. If I know what I am looking for (80's jumpsuit, sequin cardigan) then it helps. But do try to keep an open mind as you can miss some real treasures by rushing.
⚡ Ignore sizes. If you are loitering in the vintage section, it is worth ignoring the size labels and actually trying the items on (nb vintage sizes can be as much as four times smaller than modern sizes).
⚡ Be patient. Stock turnover can be high. Just because you don’t find something one week, doesn’t mean you won’t score gold and find that Alexis Carrington jewelled jacket the next.
⚡ Cover up. If you like to try on clothes before you buy, wear something you can slip clothes on over easily so you can change on the shop floor if needed.
⚡ Think outside the box. Don’t despair if it doesn’t fit - if it’s a treasure and a good price, consider having it altered.
So let’s go shopping! - and thanks to some of our HSDY regulars for sharing their recommendations.
160 Rye Lane, Peckham SE15 4NB
“If it’s a South London treasure trove you’re looking for, look no further than Crisis, Peckham”, says Dolly.“They have a wonderful range of pieces from high street to high end.” Two favourite things she has bagged there are “some original, leather cowboy boots and an oversized, man’s camouflage boiler suit which trust me looks better than it sounds” (We think it looks fab!).
The large, well laid out shop, also has a café, a good book section, and a record player at the back, so you can try and buy vinyl. If you are partial to vintage clothes (check out our HSDY blog on five of the best places to shop vintage) there are separate vintage rails. Money raised goes to help people experiencing homelessness.
Other good charity shops on Rye Lane include the British Heart Foundation and Traid, which has a good range of children’s clothes.
6 Montpelier Vale, Blackheath, London, SE3 0TA
HSDY partygoer Grace is the first to admit she may be biased about her recommendation as she not only shops regularly at CRUK she works here as assistant manager too. The small shop has a huge turnover of stock with over 100 + items put out daily. Regular labels include everything from Karen Millen and Mango to & Other Stories and Barbour.
At HSDY we donate 10% profits from our nights to CRUK so we often pop in here to hand over donations and never leave empty handed. HSDY dancer Andrea Rose has a sparkly jumpsuit and sequinned jacket both from CRUK in her disco wardrobe.
Grace also loves shopping at Shelter and Mary’s Living and Giving in Blackheath. “I’ve got a fabulous Vivienne Westwood skirt from Mary’s and some beautiful leather shorts that I adore,” she says.
56, Westow Street, Crystal Palace SE19 3AF
Our HSDY dancer and vintage queen Lady Boo (@ladyboosalutesyou) is a big fan of charity shops and especially loves St Christopher’s where her mum works as a volunteer. “It’s a beautifully presented charity shop and there is always a really good range of quality high street clothes and more designer pieces.” Past finds include a leopard print dress and an unworn pair of M&S leather trainers. “They are my faves for a fraction of the new price”, enthuses Boo.
The shop is one of over 20 in south east London that raise money to help St Christopher’s provide palliative care and end of life care at two hospices in Sydenham and Orpington. Like many charities it also has an eBay shop. https://www.ebay.co.uk/str/stchristophershospicetrading
Crystal Palace also has an RSPCA shop, Shelter and CRUK.
41 - 43 Lewis Grove, London SE13 6BG
There was a lot of excitement on social media locally when it was announced that Traid would be opening in a former pound shop in Lewisham back in March 2020. Traid (it stands for textile recycling for aid and international development), which was founded in 1999, is at the cutting edge of charity shops with their instagrammable window displays created by visual merchandiser Francesco Colucci @franceso_colucci_vm
The charity, which has 12 shops in London, aims to stop clothes being thrown away and they offer a free collection service in London. Money raised is then used to run projects to improve the working conditions, incomes, health and lives of garment workers and cotton farmers in countries including India and Ethiopia.
The Lewisham shop sells women’s, men’s & children’s clothes & shoes, accessories, homeware and linen. Unlike many charity shops that shut their doors at 5pm (or even earlier if you head outside London!) Traid Lewisham is open til 7pm during the week, which is an added bonus.
While you are here do also check out CRUK, St Christopher’s, British Red Cross and British Heart Foundation, who also have good furniture shop near the library.
Unit 56 (ground floor) The Glades, High Street, Bromley BR1 1DN
If it’s labels you are after Ada and Albert is the place to go. A few years back, I got some brand new Kurt Geiger gold platforms from their beautiful shop in Chislehurst - which certainly didn’t look out of place among the designer boutiques on Royal Parade. In 2021 the charity, which was founded by local parents Terry and Amy Pullen, moved to The Glades. Their large shop opposite M&S stocks pre-loved, high end women and children’s clothes along with shoes and jewellery. Money raised goes to support projects for vulnerable children in Bromley.
And I know I said 5 of the best but I also have to sneak in a mention to the Sue Ryder Superstore at 16, Leegate Shopping Centre, SE13 8SS in the old Woolworths (who remembers that?).
There’s a large section of furniture and homewares and electricals, alongside clothes, books, etc and you never know what you’ll find. My theory if they often get the good stuff as so much it’s easier to drop off here than on a busy high street. I even found brand new Diptyque candles once. Oh and while you are in the area pop into Emmaus at 332, Lee High Road too.