London is home to hundreds of charity shops (perhaps even thousands!) and the biggest charity shops in London are the big names you’ll probably already know. The Salvation Army, British Red Cross, Cancer Research, Oxfam, FARA, and many more. But what about the size of these places? Does inner city living mean that the charity shops are smaller? Thankfully, the answer is no. Pretty much every high street in London boasts at least one charity shop, and some are certainly larger than you might think.
The population of London is over 9 million people. Since London is such a transient city, it means that people are moving in and moving out of the capital constantly. And what does that mean? Residents are taking their pre-loved possessions to the charity shop by the bucket load. And it’s not just clothing. London has huge dedicated charity shops filled with second hand furniture too. So whether you’re looking for a new outfit, or to furnish a flat entirely from scratch, London charity shops have got you covered.
The Biggest Charity Shops In London
Let’s take a look at the best, biggest charity shops in London. If you’re making a trip to London to visit the thrift shops (or even if you’re a full time resident) you won’t be disappointed. Even the most selective of shoppers are bound to come away from a London charity shop crawl with something special.
The Salvation Army – Hackney, East London
The Salvation Army, Cambridge Heath, is a little bit of heaven. They’re open Monday-Saturday, 10-4pm, and sell bric-a-brac, non-electrical toys, board games and records. Head there for a good rummage when you’re in East London, and you are sure to find some gems.
Fun fact about The Salvation Army- they opened one of the first charity shops over 150 years ago! Their mission: “to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in his name without discrimination” (and generally to help those in need however possible).
The Salvation Army has two ‘superstore’ charity shops, however these are not located in London. You will have to travel a little further afield to Northampton and Banbury to find their ‘Great Big Charity Shop Superstores.’ Sounds like it’s worth a trip, if you ask me!
Traid have 12 locations across London but, according to research, Traid Dalston seems the most popular branch in the city. This branch has a dedicated vintage rail filled with beautiful, colourful clothes. If you’re a fellow vintage lover, it’s always a huge bonus when high quality vintage has been merchandised separately from other clothing items.
In the Dalston branch you’ll find high quality second-hand and vintage clothes, shoes and accessories for women and men including saris and African clothing. Plus homeware, books, haberdashery, linen and a great range of children’s clothes. You can even find them online on eBay and Depop if you’d like to narrow down your search to something specific.
Traid Dalston is open every day with reduced hours on Sundays and Public Holidays.
- Increasing clothes reuse across the UK reducing waste, carbon emissions and consumption.
- Funding international development projects to improve conditions and working practices in the textile industry.
- Educating people of all ages about the impacts of textiles on the environment and people’s lives, and how we can make more sustainable choices.
Mary’s Living & Giving Shop
When you go to a branch of Mary’s Living & Giving, it’s really more of a boutique shopping experience than your usual rummage. There are over 20 locations in London. The shops are always laid out beautifully, with manicured displays which make you feel like you’re shopping in a high end store rather than a charity shop.
When you’re in London it’s certainly worth paying a branch a visit (they’re open every day 10-6pm (4pm on Sundays)). They often have the biggest selection of curated, designer clothing and accessories compared to other charity shops and thrift stores in London.
And if you don’t want to wait until your next visit to London to shop at Mary’s Living & Giving? You can find them online and on Depop.
Their mission: (benefits Save the Children) “We support children to learn, grow and become who they want to be”. Mary’s Living & Giving are working to help children in 122 countries.
You might also be interested in reading: The Best Charity Shops in South London
British Red Cross, Notting Hill
I’ve written about the fantastic British Red Cross branch in Notting Hill before- it’s two shops joined together, specialising in vintage and designer items. (My dream!). You’ll find one shop full of homeware, and the other with lots of clothes, shoes and jewellery. It’s definitely the biggest charity shop in the Notting Hill, Portobello Road area of London.
British Red Cross is open every day, with reduced hours on Sundays and Public Holidays. There are over 20 shops around London, but I must say that my all time favourite has got to be the Notting Hill branch for both quality and size. The fact that two shops are next to each other makes it an ideal stop on a London charity shop crawl, and also makes it (in my opinion) one of the best, and biggest charity shops in London.
Their mission: “Connecting human kindness with human crisis. From hiring a wheelchair or dealing with loneliness, to adjusting to life in a new country – we’re there when you need us… We help anyone, anywhere in the UK and around the world, get the support they need if crisis strikes.”
FARA Charity Shop, Angel
Something of a charity shop staple in London, FARA have 41 shops in London, and serve 27 different communities. There are even shops selling specialist items such as books, kidswear, vintage items, homeware or art.
I’d go as far as to say that you can find a FARA in most London towns- and they’re always brilliant! FARA has a very big charity shop presence in London. And FARA Kids (there are multiple branches) are an absolute must-visit for anyone with children. The staff are always friendly, with very reasonable prices to boot.
FARA are open 10-6pm every day. However, if you get that late night itch for a bargain, they also have an online shop available. FARA sell ‘pretty much everything’ (except white goods, large TVs, safety equipment and a few other niche things).
FARA’s mission: “Transforming the lives of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children and young people living in Romania, giving them a sense of family”.
Shop From Crisis, Finsbury Park
Shop From Crisis, Finsbury Park, is something of a charity shop mecca. It’s cool, vibrant aesthetic means that it has featured in magazines due to its unique look and feel. And when you’re exhausted from all the bargains you’ve managed to pick up? You can even grab a coffee at their in-store coffee shop.
So what can you find at the Finsbury Park branch? You’ll mostly see menswear and womenswear items, shoes, bags and accessories including costume and vintage jewellery.
Shop From Crisis has 8 other locations across London, and they are open every day 11-5pm, with extended hours Mon-Wed. Author Lauren Bravo – Instagram @laurenbravo says that “The best time to visit is during London Fashion Week, when they bring out premium pieces that have been squirrelled away during the rest of the year.”
Their mission: to end homelessness for good.
You might also be interested in reading: Thrift Stores in London- A Local Guide
Cancer Research, Marylebone
Cancer Research Marylebone is in a real prime location, not far from Selfridges and Oxford Street- the central hub for shopping in London. This area is also abuzz with city workers, with lots of fashion houses and retailers housing their headquarters in this area of London. What does that mean? It means that London’s most fashionable employees are likely to be taking their cast offs to this charity shop branch.
Marylebone is one of Cancer Research’s premium shops, specialising in high quality and designer items at reasonable prices.
This store sells a wide variety of items- perhaps more than you might expect from a central London location. Items sold include clothing (men’s, women’s, and children’s), accessories, jewellery, shoes, and bags, quality homeware (anything from cushions and linens to crockery), electronics, books and children’s toys.
The store is open 10-7pm everyday (a little later than your average charity shop) with reduced hours on Sundays.
Cancer Research is a charity familiar to many, and their charity shops help the charity to fulfil their mission: to fund research to help beat cancer. In the UK, there are over 600 Cancer Research charity shops, making them perhaps one of the biggest chains of charity shops in London.
Oxfam, Notting Hill
Oxfam in Notting Hill fits in with the upmarket surroundings of the area. You’d certainly be forgiven for thinking that you were in a boutique when you step into this Notting Hill branch of Oxfam. This particular shop is known for both chic contemporary and vintage fashion, and also sells goods such as musical items, books and homewares.
The store is conveniently located close to Notting Hill Gate station, and I’ve actually written about my finds in this store previously in my guide to the best charity shops in West London. You’ll certainly find brands such as Maje, Reiss, and even some designer brands too. The opening times for this store are variable, so contact the store to confirm.
Like Cancer Research, Oxfam have a huge number of charity shops throughout the UK- around 750 in fact! Of these charity shops, Oxfam also has specialist books and music shops- the charity is actually the biggest retailer of second hand books in Europe, with around 12 million books sold per year. Oxfam is also unique in that any textiles that are not sold through their shops are sent for recycling at their dedicated Wastesaver plant.
Oxfam is a big charity that is familiar to many, their mission is to be a global movement of millions of people working together to end poverty.
Top tips for charity shopping in the biggest charity shops in London
London is the biggest city in the UK, which means that it also has the biggest number of charity shops. An exciting prospect! But with hundreds of stores, where do you start?
Here are my top tips for charity shopping in London, to make sure you find the best pieces, at the best prices.
- Go for a London charity shop crawl. Sure, a bar crawl in London is fun, but a charity shop crawl? It doesn’t get better than that! Mapping out a specific area with lots of shops in one place means that you can hit lots of stores in a short space in time. This means it’s more likely that you’ll find a bargain!
- Scope out superstore charity shops. The biggest charity shops in London are those with superstore status. Head out to the Salvation Army Superstore in particular for the best chance of having lots and lots of product to rummage through.
- Make a day of it. Find a friend who also loves to shop secondhand, and make a day of it! Rather than getting charity shop fatigue, you can stop off for lunch, and even go to two areas in one day to really make the most of it.
- If you’re looking for designer labels, head to affluent areas such as Chelsea, Marylebone and Kensington.
- Make regular trips to your local charity shop. Often, charity shops will turn over their stock within a couple of weeks. In some stores, staff will be placing new stock on the shop floor every single day. When you make regular visits to your local store, you are bound to find the best pieces.
So there you have it- the lowdown on the biggest charity shops in London. Although central London doesn’t have the largest standing stores in the UK, it certainly makes up for it in the number of stores. The floorspace of charity shops in London is huge- no matter which high street in London you happen to be walking along, you are bound to find at least one charity shop to pop into. Happy Charity Shopping!
Stay in touch
For more from Thrifty Londoner, follow me over on Instagram @thriftylondoner to get the latest thrifty tips and tricks.