by Ellen Duggan
If charity shops have ten thousand fans, I am one of them. If charity shops have one hundred fans, I am one of them. If charity shops have ten fans, I am one of them. If charity shops have one fan, I am that fan. If charity shops have no fans, I am dead. If the world is against charity shops, I am against the world. You get the gist. For those of us with a passion for sustainable fashion on a student budget, charity shops are a dream come true.
There’s nothing more enthralling to me than a Saturday afternoon spent rifling through racks of clothes, searching fervently for the perfect pair of jeans, followed by browsing through shelves of 50c books and coming home having spent no more than ten quid throughout the day. While second-hand shopping and the effort it requires (time-consuming, and not nearly so convenient for finding something particular) can be daunting for a student with not enough time, I would argue that that only adds to its many charms- allowing you to focus more on what you’re buying, as opposed to the mindless consumption that fast fashion so frequently enables.
And yet, the charity shops of Dublin are among my least favourite for a variety of reasons. The price gauging associated with all Dublin markets extends to its second-hand stores, and with vintage shopping in the city centre (and indeed, across Ireland) becoming steadily more unaffordable, a lot of pricing in charity shops have risen alongside them (though not nearly to the same degree). The gentrification of charity shops have consequences beyond upsetting regular thrifters- they are often necessary for those with lower incomes. So how to avoid blowing your budget while trying to shop sustainably?
- Know your locations- the best locations for charity shopping close to the city centre include George Street, Capel Street, Camden Street and Rathmines.
- Bring cash- in my experience, a lot of charity shops still take only cash. These shops also tend to be the cheapest, so you don’t want to miss out!
- While affluent areas tend to have more designer and vintage clothing, they also are slightly more expensive. You may not necessarily find a hidden gem for next to nothing, but you will certainly find something to your taste!
- The more often you shop, the more likely you are to find something- not only do shops generally tend to switch up the clothes set out quite a lot, but the more frequent you are in your visits allows you to get a better sense of what pieces are worth what prices
- Crockery from charity shops tend to be much cheaper than their Dunnes counterparts and are undoubtably worth checking out!
- Know where you are purchasing- certain charities gone through distasteful controversies in recent years, and it might be worth noting to avoid contributing money to an organisations whose values clash with your own
- Make sure to wash clothes after purchasing and to check beforehand for any loose threads or holes in the garment- while in general, clothes will have been washed and checked for damage, better safe than sorry!
- Oxfam stores frequently have a vintage clothing section- perfect for if you’re looking for something on the fancier side!
- Try before you buy- unless the shop doesn’t have a changing room (which can sometimes be the case with smaller charity shops), you’re much better off to try an item on rather than getting carried away by how cheap it is
Here is a list of some of my personal favourite charity shops in Dublin!
Oxfam Bookshop, Parliament Street
Looking for some classic literature? Something to read as Gaeilge? Or maybe just want a cheap read for before bed? Oxfam Bookshop on Parliament Street is ideal, with an enormous selection of second-hand books that’s not just good for the mind but good for your bank balance!
Enable Ireland, George Street
With a well-organised selection of clothes and shoes, with the added bonus of being a five minute walk from campus, Enable Ireland on George Street rarely disappoints!
NCBI, Capel Street
NCBI Capel Street is much swankier than your average charity shop, with a top notch window display and colour-coordinated racks.
NCBI, Camden Street
Another NCBI, this shop is on the pricier side, but has a large selection of furniture for those looking to redecorate
Goodwill Thrift Store, Capel Street
This shop is a dream come true, with a wealth of hidden gems such as CDs, jeans, leather jackets, shoes, trinkets and bags just waiting to be discovered.
All Sorts, Aungier Street
Be sure to bring cash if you venture to this shop, as they don’t accept card. Possibly my favourite charity shop in Dublin, the entrance has a box of books for 50c each and I once found a black velvet Laura Ashley skirt here for one euro.