I’m a charity shop queen – you’ve been shopping wrong, my secrets can bag you the biggest bargains and save you £100s | The Sun

EX-FASHION journalist Emily London knows all about bagging the best charity shop bargains.

She's spent the last 30 years trawling through clothes lines and cabinets for the best deals, and now runs charity shop tours.

She's also done stints working at British Red Cross charity shops as a retail assistant and manager.

It's safe the say the 43-year-old Londoner has built up a fair pool of tips for saving money when out at your nearest second-hand store.

She spoke to The Sun and shared four of the best – and they could help you save £100s.

Hit up your local clearance store

Everyone knows where their local charity shop is, or should do at least.

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But you might not have heard of "clearance", "discount" or "superstores", where you can sometimes bag products that are cheaper than at a normal branch.

Emily said she's found some absolute bargains at the Cancer Research clearance stores, including Thomas Pink shirts for £1, which retail from £75 when bought new.

"All charities do it differently, but I know there is a Cancer Research clearance shop where all the clothing that hasn't sold in the other Cancer Research shops is moved to," Emily said.

She added: "It's where I've found Thomas Pink shirts for £1, and found a Paul Smith blazer for £1."

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Not all chains run these type of stores, but Cancer Research UK does.

The charity has over 550 shops in the UK and runs over 50 discount shops and 30 superstores where shoppers can pick up bargains for £5 or under, excluding furniture, electricals and new items.

You can find your nearest one by using the "find a shop" tool on the Cancer Research UK website.

The British Heart Foundation has four large clearance shops and stores in the UK too, in Coventry, Edinburgh, Peterlee and Castleford.

Build rapport with the staff

You might consider it common courtesy, but saying hello to staff when you walk into your local charity store can land you some bargains too.

Once you've built up that rapport with shop workers, they will be more likely to reveal crucial information that can save you cash – like when items are reduced and where the best picks are located in the store.

Emily said this technique has helped her bag half price blouses and skirts she would otherwise not have known about.

"Always say hello and acknowledge them (the staff)," she said.

"That's what I always do, because I know charity shop managers know their stock really well.

"If I am looking for something in particular, I ask after those specific items.

"Some charity shops tell you when they're rolling out certain stock too."

Using this trick Emily discovered one of her regular charity shops reduces items every two weeks, so she knows when's best to grab a bargain.

Go for quality over brands

The everyday charity shop rookie might focus on brands, but you'll be better placed looking at the overall quality of a product.

That means taking note of the stitching and labels, which will tell you if the item's been made in a reputable country.

Employing tricks like this can save you hundreds of pounds as well.

Emily gave an example of a Versace wool blazer she found two years ago that on first glance might not usually "pop out", but she got for just £5 after some careful investigating.

She said: "I went into on charity shop and was looking at the men's blazers.

"One of the blazers had a made in Italy label. It was beautiful wool and had a nice button.

"It was a 1990s wool blazer, but these types of brands don't pop out.

"I noticed the label Versace – it was on sale for £5. That can sell for £200 depending on how elaborate the piece is."

She added: "Sometimes we can focus on specific brands, but actually if you start looking at how an item is made, it's always better to go for something that's in good condition, fits your body well, and it's a bonus if it's a brand you recognise."

Buy out of season

Charity shops often mark down products that are out of season, so keep an eye out for anything you might not want now, but might come in useful later on.

Right now, that means you should be on the lookout for any winterware.

Emily said to look out for wool jumpers, coats and other "heavy duty" items.

"If you think you're not going to wear it, still buy it," she added.

"Shopping out of season is a great way of finding some great prices.

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"Two days ago I was in Rochester in Kent, and went to a charity clearance store, there was a lambs wool Windsmoor coat for £4."

We had a quick search online for how much Windsmoor coats retail for, and Etsy has a number on sale, the cheapest of which was £54.

Do you have a money problem that needs sorting? Get in touch by emailing [email protected]

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