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Charities with shops: Where to find Britain’s best charity shops

Looking to find the best charities with shops? Here’s our guide to picking out a gem

The UK is lucky to have countless charities with shops, so much so that the charity shop is a national institution. But it’s often hard to know which are the best.

There are two schools of thought when it comes to charity shops. One is that donations vary, and a charity shop full of treasure one week might be a barren wasteland, with only James Patterson novels and weird checked shirts the next week.

The other is that there are consistent gems, shops that can be depended on to have solid, well-curated stock.

That’s probably one for the philosophers.

In the meantime, if you’re looking for charities with shops, here’s our guide to the best ones.

Oxfam

Once upon a time, the UK didn’t have charity shops. That changed in 1947, when Oxfam opened the country’s first. Fast forward 75 years and the charity now has 560 shops and its green logo is immediately recognisable on the high street. Their shops stock a huge range of items, with some shops that are book and music specific

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There’s even an Oxfam shop at Glastonbury.

Money raised for Oxfam goes towards its work around the globe trying to end poverty – including through providing water and pushing for gender equality.

Find your local branch here.

Mind

Recognisable by their all-blue exteriors, Mind offers classic but dependable charity shops with a good range of books, clothes, and bric-a-brac. Money raised through sales goes towards Mind’s work supporting those experiencing mental health problems.

There are 153 Mind shops across the country, and you can find your nearest one here.

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Traid

Frustrated by fast fashion and wasted clothes? Traid could be for you.

It might be a bit more pricey than your usual charity shops, but with good reason. It’s one for the fashion heads, and somewhere you’re likely to find some designer brands.

There are 12 Traid shops throughout London, with some stocking a “substantial range of children’s clothes, linen, saris and African clothing” alongside vintage second-hand finds.

Traid is dedicated to reducing clothing waste and if you fancy donating, Traid runs 1,500 clothes banks across the country.

Mary’s Living and Giving

Mary’s Living and Giving is a chain of boutique shops set up by Save the Children.

And there’s one obvious question: who is Mary? It’s “Queen of the shops” Mary Portas. The first shop opened in 2009, and they’ve managed to raise over £23million.

Branded as “charity shops with a difference”, they’re located mostly in London but with one in Bristol and one in Edinburgh.

Find your local branch here.

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British Heart Foundation

We’ve had green and blue, so now for red: British Heart Foundation. If you’re looking for furniture, this is a great bet. The BHF is the UK’s biggest charity retailer according to a 2017 study.

Check out our full guide of where to find charity furniture shops here, and on how to donate here.

Crisis

Homelessness charity crisis runs a chain of shops across the country, offering vintage clothes, jewellery, and furniture. There are currently 10 Crisis shops, all in London – with some featuring a coffee shop. You can see their locations here.

Do charity shops wash clothes?

It varies. Some charity shops do wash clothes before they sell them, some don’t.

We asked some of the country’s biggest charity retailers what they do.

Oxfam doesn’t wash clothes before they go on sale. But the charity told us it does request that people donate items that shoppers would like to buy, and that it’s “very unlikely” their shop teams would put unclean items on sale.  

However, Mind, Crisis, Cancer Research UK and the British Heart Foundation steam all clothes before putting them out for sale. Mind donates anything dirty or stained to a rag company for recycling.

Which charity has the most shops in the UK?

According to Civil Society’s Charity Shops Survey 2022, the charities with the most shops in the UK are:

  • British Heart Foundation: 691
  • Cancer Research: 589
  • Oxfam GB: 564
  • Sue Ryder: 407
  • Age UK: 299
  • Salvation Army: 228
  • Mind: 156

These figures include some shops that are not reconcilable with the figures in charities’ most recent accounts

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