Ten questions with Phoebe Boateng

25/11/2021 14:19

For the second in our ‘ten questions’ series – we put our questions to Phoebe to find more useful insights into how the new breed of sustainable shopper views our sector. 


1.    How often do you use charity shops?
All the time! I always look in charity shops when looking for pieces to update my wardrobe or add to my book collection.

2.    Do you use them to buy presents?
I have done in the past for stocking fillers/ smaller gifts, but not recently.

3.    What do you think about online charity shopping?
I think it’s great! All the variety of going into the physical shop from the comfort of your own home. Additionally, online charity shopping is sometimes more accessible for lots of people, especially since the pandemic.

4.    Do you find charity shopping enjoyable – any general observations to make it easier/better?
It’s one of my favourite things to do, even if I don’t end up buying anything. It’s always such a nice feeling entering a charity shop. One thing that I love about a local Barnardos is that it is colour coordinated. That makes it so much easier to shop. I think it would be great if more charity shops replicated that, as it would make it less daunting for newbies to charity shop.

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

A) Second-hand doesn’t mean second best!! I’ve seen that quote quite a lot on social media recently and think it’s so true. You can always find such gems in charity shops. 

B) Buying a gift for someone that is secondhand is an item new to them. Also, buying secondhand takes longer and so the gift is more thoughtful which is something that lots of people would appreciate. 

My top tip is when looking for a more specific gift is to make a note of it/ save a picture of the item and ask a staff member if they have that item or anything similar. 

6.    What can our sector do to attract the sceptics?
I think for lots of people who don’t charity shop, the idea of wearing ‘used’ clothes or owning ‘used’ items doesn’t appeal to them. To attract the sceptics, I think that charity shops could be more transparent about the condition of items they accept and other processes they they go through, before they go to the shop floor/ online.

Additionally, I often think that sceptics don’t realise the variety of clothing in charity shops, or know how to style items that aren’t more modern. Therefore, it would be great to showcase ways that the different era’s of clothing can be styled but with a modern take, either on the shop mannequins or on the hanger. 

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?
I don’t think that charity shops in general have a high enough profile. To be more visible I think that an active social media presence is key, with content that includes behind the scenes footage and styling videos.

8.    What are your three top tips for finding the best items?
Ooooo this is a hard one as a lot of the time is pure luck!

My top tips would be:

  1. Write down what you’re looking for before going charity shopping 
  2. Be patient and take your time when looking through items. It can sometimes overwhelming if you’re not used to charity shopping
  3. Don’t overlook secondhand books, shoes and accessories!

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?
Lack of awareness about charity shops is a big issue when it comes to recruitment. Additionally, potential employees might not be people who shop at charity shops themselves and have not considered the possibility of working there. It’s a difficult issue that needs to be addressed!

I think that careers in charity retail could be promoted in a way to encourage my generation who are becoming much more climate conscious. Lots of younger people look for jobs in retail and I think promoting job roles as something that goes beyond just an average retail job would be more captivating! 

10.    Can you see a time when buying second hand will be as mainstream, or more so, than shopping for new?
With discourse surrounding climate change and climate justice being more and more a mainstream conversation, I think that buying second-hand could be more popular. Additionally, with the influence that social media, especially TikTok, has had in pushing conversation around thrifting/ shopping second-hand I think that it has become more mainstream and popular.

However, in terms of second-hand shopping becoming more mainstream than shopping new, I’m not so sure. I think that the current grip that fast fashion has in terms of ease and its ‘fast’ nature, is too strong for second-hand shopping to overtake that in terms of popularity at the moment. The ease of ordering something for it to be delivered the next day is something that I am unsure whether consumers are currently willing to trade for taking the time to shop second-hand. 

Ask me this question in a year or so and the answer might change!


You can follow Phoebe on Instagram @pashun4fashun_

Phoebe Boateng