Lucy Smith-Butler

Ten questions with Lucy Jane

06/12/2021 11:30

Our final ‘ten questions’ are being put to Lucy Jane, a charity shopper with a big following from Manchester. We return to the subject of #GoodCauseSantaClaus in the run up to Christmas and gather those vital ideas to change people’s perceptions of buying preloved and working in the sector.

1.       How often do you use charity shops?
Personally, I’m in charity shops every week, I never want to miss a bargain!

2.       Do you use them to buy presents?
I have done over the last few years as I find so much more inspiration in charity shops than in normal retailers. I also feel that gifts you find second hand are hidden gems and it’s so much more exciting giving someone that. We’re all prone to over buying at Christmas so I feel like opting for a few second hand gifts are a much more sustainable way to make sure someone gets the perfect present. I think the #GoodCauseSantaClaus campaign is a fabulous way to encourage people to shop second hand, a gift is still a gift even if it is preloved!

3.       What do you think about online charity shopping?
I feel like online charity shopping is really good for when you’re looking for specific things, it’s a much quicker way of filtering out what you don’t want and finding what you do want. It’s also a way of reaching a much wider audience, utilising social media and getting more customers to your shop.

4.       Do you find charity shopping enjoyable – any general observations to make it easier/better?
I LOVE charity shopping, it’s honestly like my form of therapy and relaxation. I simply go and browse through rails upon rails of clothes hunting for those hidden gems and when you find one, it’s so exciting! A lot of people struggle with the way charity shops are organised but I love having a good root, it’s like digging for gold and it’s my favourite hobby!

5.       What would you say to a member of the public who was unsure about
A)      Shopping in charity shops in general
B)      Buying presents from charity shops

I’d tell them to just give it a go, how will you ever know if you don’t try? I know I’ve converted a lot of people into popping into their local charity shops because they see the bargains I find and they want that for themselves. Once people find one good thing, they’ll catch the charity shopping bug and want more! 

In regards to presents I think it’s down to people to understand that no matter where a gift comes from, if you’re giving the gift, it will always come from you. What does it really matter if someone once loved it because now the love is being passed on. I think there is a misconception around second hand being dirty, smelly or unattractive but this isn’t true at all!

6.       What can our sector do to attract the sceptics?
I feel like in order to attract sceptics you have to tackle the misconceptions that people assume, such as charity shops being dirty, or full of clothes that smell. Create campaigns that entice people in to realise that actually none of these things are true. There is a growing community of charity shoppers on social media definitely leading the way but I think the organisations themselves need to utilise this community more. Use our voices to help abolish the taboos.

7.       Do you think charity shops have a high enough profile as a sector? Any suggestions for what chains can do on a limited budget?
The opinion of charity shops is definitely changing, but I do feel like there is a long way to go. With regards to in-store, keep the shop visually exciting, maybe even utilise charity shop influencers to come down to their local stores and create their own capsules and windows. Utilise things you’d see in your ordinary retailers in the charity shops, just because it’s second hand doesn’t mean it has to be boring! 

8.       What are your three top tips for finding the best items?

  • Look absolutely everywhere in the shop, every size, every section, don’t miss anything!
  • Go straight to the colours and patterns that catch your eye, they usually have potential.
  • Think outside the box, something might not look that appealing on the hanger but if you’re creative with it, it could be incredible!

9.       Recruitment is one of the most reported issues in our sector currently. What are your thoughts about careers in charity retail and attracting, especially, shop managers?
I’ve never personally worked in a charity shop however I have volunteered a few times. From an outside view I don’t think jobs in the charity sector seem to be taken as ‘seriously’ as they associate it with volunteering. In regards to ideas maybe set up kickstart schemes to attract younger employees to start their retail careers in charity shops, or have a bigger social media presence to reach that audience.

10.   Can you see a time when buying second hand will be as mainstream, or more so, than shopping for new?
I’d like to think so but it all depends on people changing their attitudes. I’ve been an avid charity shopper for around 6 years now and I’ve definitely noticed a big shift in opinions throughout that time, so it is possible. I think people need to understand that we can’t keep consuming as we are and making small changes like shopping second hand could help in the long run.

“Hello! I’m Lucy Jane, a funky, fashion loving, charity shopper from Manchester! Follow me here: