You might have caught my Charity Shop Guide to Norwich at the end of January. Well this is the second of guides to the places I shop regularly. Banbury in Oxfordshire.
I’ve been frequenting the shops here for well over a year and I’ve witnessed many changes. Initially almost all the shops were the source of great bargains, but over the last few months, particularly since the Mary Queen of Charity Shops programme I have noticed this changing, not always in a positive way.
These reviews are based on my most recent shopping experiences. We’ll start with the handy map….
View Banbury Charity Shoppers Guide in a larger map
Helen & Douglas House – Church Lane
This is a large, well laid out and clean shop, but consequently not the greatest place to go for an amazing bargain. Decent high end high street dresses can be bought for about £8-£10 and the shop also sells new shoes and accessories.
Worth a look, but don’t expect to be buying designer for a fiver.
RSCPA – Church Walk
A proper jumbled up charity shop with a window full of nick nacks. Has a sale rail where real bargains can be found. This is one of the shops where I have noted changes. Dresses used to be priced around the £5 mark, but I am increasingly noticing random pricing decisions with nothing special dresses priced up to £25. Unfortunately this price hike has not come with an increase in cleanliness or checking of stock and I still find handbags stuffed with dirty tissues and the like.
PDSA – Church Walk
Slightly larger than the RSPCA next door. This shop has a selection of evening wear which is variable in quality, and priced around the £10-£15 mark, sometimes even more. There is a sale rail here and it can be quite good for shoes.
Occasional vintage hidden amongst the low end high street and catalogue pieces.
MIND – Parson’s Street
A funny little shop, opens at random times and sometimes the racks are half empty. It’s often full of polyester smocks, but amongst this there can be some great vintage finds.
They seem to mark items down to £1 once they’ve been on the floor for a certain period, but these aren’t seperated onto a “sale” rack so it’s worth a proper rummage.
CANCER RESEARCH – Parson’s Street
My personal opinion is this shop is insanely overpriced. I’ve seen slightly bobbled high street jumpers priced at £10. I’ve occasionally bought vintage handbags in here, but generally their prices are above what I want to spend. The shop is clean and generally not over crowded.
HELP THE AGED – Parson’s Street
The racks in this store are far too close together but it does often have some good vintage pieces and occasionally some vintage designer. This is generally reasonably priced, but not incredibly cheap.
The store also sells new items.
BANARDOS – Parson’s Street
Banardo’s arranges it’s clothes by colour, which I find frustrating, though it makes the store look nice!
Occasionally has some really good pieces of vintage or high end high street with dresses around the £5 or £6 mark, which is very reasonable. A bit hit and miss though and sometimes can be busy.
BRITISH HEART FOUNDATION – High Street
A very small and crowded shop with racks too closely spaced and often very busy. It makes me quite claustrophobic!
Very occasionally has vintage pieces, but tends to over price them when it does. Mostly good for high end high street tops and skirts at around the £5 or £6 mark.
KATHARINE HOUSE HOSPICE – Bridge Street
I would come to Banbury just to go to this shop! Downstairs is a great range of homewares and nick nacks, as well as some higher priced clothing. I’ve never really been impressed by the downstairs selection, but upstairs they have an entire room of racks that are full, but not too close together so you can still move around.
The clothes in the upstairs room are all given a set price. Dresses at £5, coats at £6 etc meaning sometimes some real bargains can be found. This shop is always worth the rummage and I’ve hardly ever come away empty handed.
Photo by Jim Linwood