If you’ve been looking for the best charity shops in London, you’re going to be happy you’ve landed here today. Why? Because I’m one of the biggest thrift shopping addicts you’ll ever meet in your life. And what can you expect to find in a London charity shop? The answer is easy: anything and everything! Thrift shops, secondhand shops, vintage stores – whatever you prefer to call them, charity shops in London are a vibe.
They’re eclectic and home to awesome secondhand designer clothes, almost-new used books and cool accessories and homeware that you wouldn’t even have expected in the first place. This makes them utterly interesting places to discover one-of-a-kind pieces to add to your wardrobe and home.
The Best Charity Shops in London
Searching for pre-loved (my preferred term) treasures is one of my favorite London weekend activities as I know I’ll always find something good at an affordable price. You know I like to spend time on my own – I’ve even written about the best non touristy cheap things to do alone in London.
Well, I’d say that finding the cheapest charity shops in London is one of my go-to activities. It doesn’t matter where I am, in Chiswick, South Kensington, Camden Town, or Islington. Finding pre-owned books, bomber jackets, and unique jewelry is set in my heart as the coolest thing to do like a Londoner when you visit the city.
Lately, I’ve told you a lot about the best thrift shops in London and the most Instagrammable streets of London. And today, we’re going to be talking about the ultimate best charity shops in London – from West London to the South, and some in Central London as well. So get ready for your cheap shopping outing, and let’s get to the bottom of the best charity shops in London!
The 12 Best Charity Shops In London
I remember the first time I came across a London charity shop. Rather, I remember the feeling I was feeling when I passed the threshold and set out to find, at the time, the whole collection of Harry Potter books with my younger sister. I went to South Kensington charity shops and quite a few addresses in West London – it was 2014, and at the time, I was all about Notting Hill, Portobello, and Regent’s Park. Found them all, too. Then I went to live in North London for a while, and I started this charity shop in London guides with the best charity shops in Camden Town and Finsbury Park. I’m back at it, with the coolest addresses around London and I’ll write about East London charity shops in a bit.
Why visit charity shops in London?
Practically any London charity shop is going to prove to be an interesting experience. Even if digging through slightly messy rails and boxes is not your usual way of shopping, I’m confident you will be able to find something that suits your style, purely because London really is a super stylish city and the charity donations reflect this. It’s not just about fashion – there is homeware, books, accessories, and lots of knick-knacks. The proceeds from items sold go to different worthy causes, which is an even bigger reason to support them.
There are a staggering 9,000 shops to choose from nationwide, however, it’s all about knowing where to look. Once you’ve found your favorites, you won’t want to share them, and I’m here to help you find the best ones.
Biggest charity shop in London: TRAID Dalston
Dalston is an area where the artsy folk gravitates towards and the shops here definitely reflect that. Let’s start with the TRAID charity shop in Dalston, which has a huge selection of everything colorful, dresses, and a good men’s section. TRAID shops are a fond favorite amongst avid charity shoppers, they stock cool pieces and the interiors have their own look and feel.
As a company, they are committed to global projects improving conditions and working practices in the textile industry. I’ve been to this Dalston charity shop not too long ago, and I appreciated the quality of the clothes, the brands sold (Zara, Mango, Bershka…), and the overall very clean atmosphere of this store.
Another one of the best charity shops in London
Although it’s really big it’s worth checking out St Vincent’s which is also on Kingsland Road. It’s another huge store with records, mugs, vintage cameras, clothes, of course, magazines and art pieces, books and shoes. A plus point is their £1 rail which is an absolute bargain! Their clothing rails are coordinated by color and size which makes it much easier and time-efficient to work around. There’s a large Oxfam in the area too so if you want to cover a few big charity shops in East London at once without hopping on the tube or bus, then I recommend Dalston.
Best Charity Shops in London: Mary’s Living & Giving Shop, Primrose Hill
I watched a TV series many years ago about transforming the stigma of a London charity shop from being something old-fashioned and messy into a boutique experience. In support of Save the Children, retail expert Mary Portas lent her knowledge to a whole chain of charity shops around the city, creating a fresh stylish spin on them. If you are new to thrift shopping and aren’t accustomed to rooting around hunting for treasures, you’ll prefer browsing one of these.
It feels more like a designer shop than a London charity shop, to be fair. Being located in Primrose Hill elevates Mary’s Living and Giving Shop just a tad more. You can even sit and chill there, and overall have a shopping moment very different than one spending browsing the East London charity shops in Shoreditch and Bethnal Green.
Charity Shops Bethnal Green: Lama’s Pyjamas
I stumbled upon Lama’s Pyjamas by chance one day when I was visiting the nearby bike repair shop. I used to live very close to this London charity shop, which is a refreshing take on the vintage shops you can usually find in London. From the name alone, you know it is going to be a delight to go to Lama’s Pyjamas on Roman Road, between Mile End and Bethnal Green. Prepare to be surprised with boho wall hangings, wedding dresses; they even had a pair of Jimmy Choo X Hunter wellies a few months ago!
Proceeds from sales go to the London Buddhist Centre which is already a good sign for a store filled with a whole lot of love and kindness. The prices are decent, but what’s even better is their half-price sale that takes place twice a year.
Charity Shop in North London: Shop For Crisis Finsbury Park
Shop for Crisis is one of the best charity shops London has to offer around Finsbury Park. I’ve written about the best charity shop addresses in Finsbury Park and Camden Town a while back, so this completes the list. High street, vintage, designer, and extremely well-merchandised. There is nothing different between this charity shop in North London and a trendy boutique.
It even has a coffee bar! Often featured for its unique look and feel, you can find some great bargains here from well-known names such as Adidas, Alexander McQueen, and & Other Stories. Top tip, visit during London Fashion Week when the premium pieces come out. I told you they were fashionable!
Kensington Charity Shops: Oxfam Notting Hill Gate
I’ve always been a very faithful customer of one London charity shop in particular: Oxfam. Most particularly Oxfam Books, but those are not as present around London as the main Oxfam branches are. Close to Notting Hill Gate tube station, Oxfam Notting Hill is something really special. You can often find second-hand designer clothing and footwear if that’s what you’re after. I’m talking Ferragamo and Prada, big brand names here.
Say no more! The prices aren’t particularly cheap compared to your average charity shop but they’ll be a fraction of their original price and can set themselves as a good vintage investment. It also sells musical items and books.
Oxfam has an immense fleet of 750 charity shops covering the UK. It was one of the original names along with Cancer Research UK and British Heart Foundation. This also means the number of goods you can find in any one of these varies a lot from town to town, and that you’re almost bound to find an Oxfam shop in London quite wherever you go.
Charity Shops in London: Oxfam Bookshop Bloomsbury St
I’ve mentioned the Oxfam Bookshop on Bloomsbury Street as one of the best second hand bookshops in London. And it is. Plus, it’s located down Tottenham Court Road – you’ll have to walk just a bit, and you’ll find the coolest secondhand bookshop in the world. I don’t know why no other charity shops in London have had that much of an impact on me. Oxfam Bookshop, on the other hand, has lingered in my mind and I still go book browsing there whenever I have the time – because it’s clearly one of the best charity shops in Central London.
Oxfam Bookshop in London
Oxfam has a huge selection of books and best still, there are expert volunteers at hand if you need some advice. Take your time browsing and keep an open mind in order to discover authors you may never have heard of. If you enjoy classic literature, you might be pleasantly surprised by the versions found in Oxfam compared to what you see in the biggest bookshops in London now.
I don’t know if that’s the biggest charity shop in London when it comes to books, but it’s definitely well-stocked, especially when it comes to novels. The earlier publications often used higher quality materials and although the content is obviously the same, turning the pages of premium editions is far more enjoyable.
Picked up a new language during the lockdown? This is also a great way to look for books in a foreign language at an affordable price as Oxfam’s customers are diverse and multilingual. Be impulsive when you find something you like because there’s often only one copy of each and it could get snapped up quickly. If you like to travel and arts, there are some books there on the matter that are beautiful and precise. There’s even a kids section with lots of books for teenagers.
South Kensington Charity Shops: The Octavia Foundation
If you have been invited to a wedding recently but have nothing to wear, a charity shop might be the best place to look for a dressy outfit that doesn’t cost the earth. The Octavia Foundation has some gorgeous dresses including designer labels such as Self Portrait. They won’t be among the cheapest clothes you’ve gotten from a London charity shop, but they’re definitely a snip of the original price and a worthwhile investment.
In general, I’ve always found that the Octavia Foundation was very well-stocked and deserves much more attention from the public, like the Fara charity shops. Don’t get me wrong, you can find gems in any good charity shop in London. Some just have a label of higher quality in my eyes, and maybe you’ll think differently. If you do, I want to know some of your own favorite charity shops in London!
Best Charity Shops in London: Sue Ryder Care Pimlico
Pimlico is not an area where I go that much, to be honest. I know there are some good British charity shops in London nestled around Victoria, Pimlico, and Vauxhall. Still, I’ve never been that attracted to South London – until a few months ago, when I decided that maybe it would be cool to move to London Bridge or Bermondsey.
There is plenty to be said about the number of quality shops in Pimlico such as Fara Charity Shop which is a few doors away from Sue Ryder. This area of London often goes unnoticed even by locals. It sits between Victoria and Vauxhall and is home to some of the nicest homes in the country. It’s a lovely place full of boutiques and good restaurants, it actually feels really quiet in certain parts which is extremely rare for Central London.
Sue Ryder is a visual delight of vintage clothing and accessories that awaits you here along with some homeware and books. Top tip, there is a Black Friday sale on their online London charity shop store running throughout November 2021.
Hampstead Charity Shops: All Aboard West Hampstead
The All Aboard London charity shop name was unknown to me until not too long ago, to be honest. There are branches of All Aboard across North London, but the charity shop in West Hampstead is the one you’re going to want to visit.
It’s your traditional charity shop feel with some almost ugly yet cool homewares and statement vintage accessories. But there are also fancier pieces to expect such as Todd’s, Bottega, PINKO, and Hogan along with Alessi dining ware. The best charity shops in London always provide you with a rollercoaster of emotions. You know, when you find the perfect cocktail dress in a size 12 when you’re a size 8. Or when you finally find a book from that author you’ve been chasing, and it’s not the title you’re looking for.
In the smallest to biggest charity shops in London, the feeling of finding something unique that was destined for you is even more important than actually finding the item, in my opinion. All Aboard is rather well-stocked and organized, and it’s a pleasure to look through all the secondhand goodness there. Allow more time for the All Aboard charity shop in West Hampstead and work your way through slowly, there are surprises to be found.
Charity shops Balham: British Heart Foundation
Many people would mention Fara Balham as the best charity shop in Balham, but you should definitely also take the time to pop into one of the many charity shops along Balham High Road. There, you can also find the British Heart Foundation charity shop. Wherever it’s located, I’ve always felt that the BHF has really high-quality secondhand books, clothes, and accessories.
Any fashionista knows that the more desirable neighborhoods are best for some great bargains. Check out British Heart Foundation for trustworthy labels like Cos, Jigsaw, and Whistles along with homeware bits to spruce up a corner. It’s just a bit higher-end, and just a bit more enjoyable to find designer brands in London charity shops, isn’t it?
Muswell Hill Charity Shops: All Dogs Matter
All Dogs Matter in Muswell Hill is a very underrated London charity shop. The mission of this brand is to transform the lives of dogs and their owners. Basically, they rescue and rehome unwanted and abandoned dogs from foreign countries. I don’t often go to Muswell Hill charity shops, to be fair, because I always seem to find myself in Central and East London. Yet, I really like the whole Muswell Hill/Highgate/Stoke Newington area because it’s clean and looks like a village inside London.
That’s why, when I found All Dogs Matter (a charity shop name I did not even know!), with its wide array of secondhand clothes in London, I was over the moon. It’s definitely one of the best charity shops in London if you’re not looking for anything particular. Mind you, it’s always better to expect nothing from charity shops and stores like TK Maxx – that’s the only way to truly appreciate the gems you come across.
Best Charity Shops in London: Fara Pentonville Road
Fara on Pentonville Road, Islington, is a London charity shop I’ve always loved. For some reason, when we talk about charity shops in London, the same names come back over and over again. Oxfam, Cancer Research UK, the British Heart Foundation. Fara is not one of those names, but if you’re looking for a great, big charity shop in Islington, that’s a shop you’ll want to visit.
I remember buying a nice cashmere-like sweater there that lasted me for years, and even then, I only got rid of it because I upgraded my personal fashion style. It was still in perfect condition. Fara is one of the cheapest charity shops in London, with prices set very justly, in my opinion. If I want to find clothes in excellent condition that match a sober yet at-times-crazy style, that’s the charity shop I’ll go to. Fara Charity has quite a few thrift shops around London, and even branches especially made for kids under the name Fara Kids.
12 Best Charity Shops in London
To be honest, there are not only 12 best charity shops in London. Far from it, actually. However, I’d rather write a few different posts for you so you take pleasure in reading The London Local guides. I’ll most probably write about all the best Shoreditch charity shops, and secondhand shops in South Kensington, and in East London very soon for this reason. If you are new to this way of shopping, it can be overwhelming at first – there is so much choice! My tip would be to have a very rough idea in mind of what you want to get, then allow ample time to browse.
It does take more time than the fast-fashion culture we have become accustomed to. However, I have come to realize that many treasured pieces in my closet are those I’ve bought from charity shops. There are dresses, vintage t-shirts, and quirky accessories that have outlasted those from regular high street stores.
If rummaging around town seems like a bit of a hassle then you could try their online selections from the comfort of home. I personally hope charity shops continue for decades to offer the coolest fashion in London as they are affordable, eco-friendly, often quirky, and unique. Everything I love. They might just very well be one of the most famous London landmarks, come to think of it!
Now, if you want to do some more browsing in the best charity shops in London, here’s what I can recommend you next on The London Local:
- the best charity shops in Chelsea
- the best charity shops in Bethnal Green
- and the best Oxfam charity shops in London
Until next time!
PS. Did you know about all the amazing budget shops in London? Like, £1 shops where you can get quite anything!
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