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Didn't Pack a Jacket? Think Charitably

by Kate Stout

Did you ever pack the wrong clothes for your trip? Is the weather not what you expected? Need a rain jacket? When you're in Britain and discover you didn't pack everything you need, do what many Brits do -- think charitably, and pick up what you need from a charity shop.

Nearly every town in Britain has charity shops that benefit worthy causes. These shops have inexpensive and clean second-hand clothing. Pick up a sweater for £5, or a man's tweedy jacket for £10. The quality of clothes is generally better than those in American second-hand shops. On my last trip to England, I forgot to pack that staple of English winter wear, a scarf, so I picked up a plaid wool scarf for £2 at the first charity shop I found. I was much warmer, and saved a lot of money.

Cancer Research UK Charity ShopCharity shops are easy to find. Walk down the local High Street (the British equivalent of Main Street), and you'll see several shops with an eclectic display of clothing, mugs, jewelry and furniture in the window. Pop in, and you'll probably find what you need. If not, there'Ős likely to be another charity shop just down the street. Charity shops are part of the cultural fabric of Britain -- the organization Cancer Research UK has over 600 shops, and Oxfam raises over £15 million yearly through their shops. St. Michael's Hospice is another charity that has large shops in many towns. These are just three of the many groups that run shops. Local people routinely use charity shops, so don't be shy, join in.

Charity shops also carry cards and used books. The cards are a practical souvenir of your trip, and make good gifts. Books in charity shops are inexpensive, so stock up for your vacation reading. In addition to their usual charity shops, Oxfam runs a number of stores that sell just books, and is the second-largest used bookseller in the UK.

Finally, if you don't want to bring your charity shop purchases home with you, just drop them off as a donation at a nearby charity shop. You'll be helping charities twice.

More Information:

London Charity Shops

Charity Shop Locator

Kate Stout writes about history and travel, with a particular interest in medieval and Tudor England. She also shares her enthusiam for stories from the past by writing history for children's magazines.
Article and photo © 2006 Kate Stout


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