A whistle-stop tour round Oxford's charity shops

There are over thirty charity shops within the Oxford ring road, so you're rather spoilt for choice if you enjoy the moral high ground/ heavier purse/ distinctive style/ reduced waste that comes with buying from them. If you're unsure of where to start, our resident charity shop evangelist Anna has sorted a few of them according to specific types of shopping you might be looking for. Happy bargain hunting!

Best for a rummage

As more and more charity shops supplement squeezed funds by appealing to those with a bigger budget and taking on a more boutique-y look, there's an increasingly rare joy to be had from those charity shops which retain the satisfaction of finding a steal. If, like me, you enjoy a good rootle around, Age UK on St Clements and Sobell House on Little Clarendon Street are perfect. Extra bargain advice: if you're a student looking for a sub-fusc gown that doesn't cost the earth, you'll often find a good selection in the Sobell House shop's basement, for around £10.

Best for Furniture

If you're looking to deck out your home in a more eco-friendly way, your first port of call in town is Emmaus in Cowley. As well as accepting donated furniture, their support of the homeless includes training people to upcycle old furniture - so you can find some truly unique pieces there. For those in the south of the county, Kathryn Turner Trust has an enormous Aladdin's Cave of a warehouse in Abingdon, where you'll find everything but (or probably including!) the kitchen sink!

Best for Student Style

As a popular area for student accommodation, Jericho is a natural place to pick up some bohemian bargains from nearby residents, and the Mind shop on Walton Street tends to reap the benefits. The small-but-smart space houses a range of colourful casual-wear plus some carefully picked-out, higher-end stuff.

Best for Making Things

The wallet-friendly prices at most charity shops mean you can afford to take risks, snapping up things that aren't quite right in order to have a go at altering them yourself. The substantial brick-a-brac section of the Oxfam on Cowley Road often has interesting bits and bobs such as beads, ribbons and boxes that'll make for an interesting project. While not strictly a charity shop, Orinoco Scrapstore has similarly worthy aims and is a can't-miss destination for anyone with craft in mind.

Best for Books

With two universities in the City, it's no surprise that second-hand bookshops abound. Oxfam has two dedicated bookshops (on Turl St and St Giles) where the books are rigorously categorised so that you can find exactly what you need, or discover a whole new area of study. Much underrated is the British Heart Foundation branch, tucked away down a side street near the Westgate Centre, which has an unexpectedly large selection of fiction.


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