A Charity Shoppers Guide to Banbury

Thursday, February 25, 2010

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.


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.


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

7 Responses
  • Jo Bryan
    February 25, 2010

    Thanks am saving this as if I go out for a day in Banbury always like a rummage, got a Hobbs Evening coat last week for £8 in one of my visits to my local market town charity shop. They also seem to have hiked prices up ridiculously high, in some cases a Primark piece may be higher than the new shop price.

    • Retro Chick
      February 25, 2010

      I really noticed it after the Mary Queen of Charity Shops show. Sadly they didn’t also take on board the comments about quality, cleanliness and layout!

  • Dorothy perkins dresses
    February 25, 2010

    Thanks for the run down on the stores in the area. I’m visiting oxfordshire soon and will make sure I check them out!
    .-= Dorothy perkins dresses´s last blog ..Grey Lace Dress =-.

  • Kristen
    February 26, 2010

    If I am ever in the area (and I do hope to be someday) I will be sure to check them out, Katharine sounds great and MIND too, I love to hunt around the racks for random treasures!
    .-= Kristen´s last blog ..Fit of Inspiration: Private Benjamin =-.

  • Kelly Dudley
    March 16, 2010

    Wow, I came across this completely randomly! See that pic of the horse. Walk past it 5 minutes, BAM!, my house.

    I second your joy at the Katherine House Shop. I have gotten some corkers there. It’s worth having a good dig through the sheets and stuff as I have found meters and meters of vintage Laura Ashley fabric.

    If you fancy a small further escape, go to the recycling center at Farthinghoe and go into their textiles shed. It smells, you will find gross things. But I found original 70s star wars t shirts, a Hobbs dress and loads of Gap Kids (with the tags on!) for roughly £1 per carrier bag 🙂

  • coast dresses
    August 10, 2010

    Great post, I love trawling through Charity shops, you just never know what gems you may find. I have found some fantastic vintage clothes over the years.

  • tinker bibi
    August 10, 2010

    If you are going into Oxford, check out the Mind shop in Jericho Oxford, it’s hidden in Walton Street and is a really great charity shop experience, very different from the run of the mill charity shops!
    It’s extremely reasonable has really helpful staff and is very upbeat.