I have a slight obsession with charity shops. They are called charity shops here in the UK, thrift stores in the US and recycle shops in Japan. The ones in the UK and US specifically benefit a charity, while recycle shops in Japan are private and for profit, but they all sell used items.
The number of charity shops in Edinburgh is a bit overwhelming so I have decided to break them down by neighborhood. I am starting with the neighborhood of Stockbridge since it is my all around favorite area for charity shopping in Edinburgh.
Stockbridge is a well off area of the city which means it has some posh shop, including it’s charity shops. In fact, the Wikipedia entry for Stockbridge says its charity shops are some of the highest grossing in the UK. What makes Stockbridge so great for charity shops is the close proximity in which you can visit MANY shops, the quality and variety of stock they have and also the neighborhood itself which provides many interesting and unique boutiques, vintage shops, restaurants and natural beauty in between the charity shops. When you are done charity shopping, you can pop into the upscale boutiques or vintage shops on Raeburn place or St. Stephen Street, walk along the Water of Leith that flows through Stockbridge or have brunch at one of the many great restaurants. There is a farmer’s market on Sunday.
Most of the charity shops in Stockbridge are along Rauburn Place which turns into Comely Bank. Starting on Comely Bank and moving west to east here are my impressions.
- St. Columba’s Hospice – this is small shop with a variety of clothing and bric a brac. The bric a brac can have some interesting pieces, especially if you are looking for made in England brands, like Wedgewood, but I usually do not spend a lot of time in here. I have seen a Burberry coat, but the clothing is not abundant or especially impressive. There are other St. Columba’s locations that I frequent and have really funky and unique items, this one has more standard fare and is smaller than those other locations. I have found the ladies who staff the shop to be particularly nice.
- Shelter – several of the Shelter locations in Edinburgh are some of favorite shops, their donor base provides them with unique, funky and boho items, the one in Stockbridge has some of that feel, but not to the degree that their other locations have, they do have a music/media room in this location with vinyl, CDs and DVDs as well as a bookshop
- Chest Heart and Stroke – this shop is good overall, not a lot of everything, but what is there is interesting and very well merchandised, there is a boho vibe in some of their clothing and I always like their windows, I bought a very interesting Moroccan looking lantern in there for £15 ($18.70)
- British Red Cross – this shop is primarily clothing, there is very little housewares, I have not really found anything in here, but they have a specialty boutique in the back for wedding gowns and they have a great selection of gowns in a very nice setting
- Mary’s Living & Giving Shop for Save the Children – these specialty Save the Children shops were started by Mary Portas, a UK retail expert and broadcaster. They are supposed to carry high end and designer brands. My main issue is that the Stockbridge location just does not have a lot of “stuff” in it. It is pretty and well presented, but it is sort of bare. I was not blown away by the brands either, they were on the higher end of average.
- British Heart Foundation – I really like this shop, not as much for clothing which is not super memorable, but their housewares are pretty good and they have a fair share of vintage. I got a vintage wool blanket in here for £8 ($10) and I have seen some pretty vintage art in there. On one of my visits someone had just dropped off a donation that included a pretty wool kilim rug.
- Oxfam – there is an Oxfam music and an Oxfam book store, but no Oxfam with clothing or housewares
- Cancer Research UK – I like this shop, it has some decent clothing and even better housewares with some vintage ceramics and pottery. I got a round vintage beveled mirror for £9 ($11)
- Capability – I have not specifically found anything much in here, their housewares are better than their clothing with some a few vintage knicks and knacks
- Barnardo’s – fun, fun, funky shop, has a somewhat hippie vibe, especially in their vintage clothing section in the back of the shop, nicely merchandised, the only thing I don’t like is that items from a lot of their vintage displays high up on the walls are not for sale, “display only”, what??? but otherwise, lots of good stuff here
- Debra – also better housewares than clothing here as well, but they do have some furniture in here as well, many of the charity shops in the UK do NOT have furniture, this one does have some, usually up front in their window
- Hospices of Hope – cute, funky things in here, pretty jewelry, very overwhelming amount of stuff in their window, fun to look at, not a lot of clothing, more bric a brac
- Bethany Christian Trust – this is the one Stockbridge charity shop that is not on the main drag like the others listed above, it is on Hamilton Place, love this shop a lot, unlike most of the others, it too has large pieces of furniture, I have seen some teak mid century pieces in here, along with bric a brac and clothing, the clothing is not very impressive, but housewares and furniture can be, although sometimes overpriced, I saw an antique biscuit tin in the window for £40 ($50) and thought that was too much, their windows are always displayed very, very well, and creatively, I love to photograph them
A friend and fellow blogger from Oranges and Apples published a good article on vintage and charity shopping in Edinburgh, in fact, it is how I met her after I read the article, so please check it out.
Another great resource for charity shopping in Edinburgh is the Changeworks Charity Shop and Reuse Map.
Check back to see what other charity shop dense areas of Edinburgh I write about!