Where to find Dublin’s best Second hand Fleas

August 25, 2014 – Style
Indeed you read correctly! Second hand, retro, vintage, dusty vapours that make you sneeze. We have it all for you and we even produced a fitting map. You can thank us later (after you get your leather handbags!)

In Ireland we are quite limited with what is on offer in high street and independent stores. Charity shopping gives you the opportunity to find clothes from all eras & parts of the world. An opportunity to pick pieces you really like rather than walking into a high street store and being told what you like. It gives you the chance to develop a lot more individuality by being given so many different options to choose from rather that what is ‘in fashion’ at the moment.

Presented to you here is ’The ultimate charity shopping route’ created by an (annoyingly) passionate Dublin thrift shopper. It starts in Rathmines & finishes in the city centre. On your marks, get set….

St Vincents, Rathmines

This is small enough but a gem or two can often be found. Vincent’s charity shops have an ‘elegance’ section in each of them where they section designer/high-end high street pieces & price them a bit more, these sections are great if you are specifically looking for a dress for a special occasion. There tends to be a lot of cocktail & black tie dresses in these sections so next time you need a dress for a wedding, try charity, not coast.

Barnardos, Rathmines

Rarely is anything found worth mentioning in this but it’s en route so pop in. They have a decent coat & dress section but I just find the whole shop very muddled & uninspiring.

Oxfam, Rathmines

Ugh, I would go so far as to say this is my least favourite charity shop in Dublin which is a shame as it is on my most trodden route. It’s just so… blah. There isn’t much of anything in the shop to begin with & they tend to sell multiples of most items, obviously from lines that have gone into liquidation who are kind enough to donate unsold items to charity, great for Oxfam, not so great for us buyers!

Irish cancer society, Rathmines

Ohhh, this is my favourite shop on this route. I rarely leave this shop empty-handed & even though it is small, its well organised and stocks what seems a well picked often replenished selection.

This shop is great for everything except shoes (very small selection), it’s just well worth having a rummage & seeing what you stumble upon. There is quite a large book selection for the size of the shop & they house a lot of random children’s items & house wares. It’s a bit of a mish mash but manages to not feel too chaotic.

Simon community, Camden Street

This is one of those charity shops where I understand why people describe them as ‘smelly’. It has a musky scent that can be quite pungent which can affect one’s enjoyment of their day shopping!

Nevertheless, it is worth popping in as they have a great selection of dresses & jackets for women. I have found a good few gems in here over the years & it is another shop I would recommend if you are looking for a dress for a nice occasion.

The Cake Cafe

Ok, not a charity shop but all of this walking can make a gal peckish!

The cake café is a perfect spot to stop if you are in need of a caffeine, cake & kitsch fix at this point in the journey. It has been open for years and seems a lot better known these days so there may be a queue for seating which is worth the wait. If you have the patience! A lovely gem hidden behind the Daintree shop, just walk through and you’re there.

Age Action, Camden Street

This was undoubtedly one of my favourite charity shops in Dublin but they have recently started lowering their clothing stock in favour of furniture and home wares.  Boo! Who needs a couch when you look this good!?

I have found some of my favourite pieces in here over the years, they have a great reasonably priced vintage section & they are known to do €2 sale days now and again… you can’t argue with that!

Irish Cancer Society, Camden street

This shop is small but can pack a punch, well organised as seems to be the trend in the ICA stores, they have a lot of what can only be described as ‘trinkets’ in this store which may leave you with a brand new foundation or sunglasses.

Debra, Camden Street

These Debra charity shops are on a smaller scale, they have plenty of stock that seems to be well-chosen, the selection tends to be very girlie so your feelings towards this shop will depend on your taste.

Again, this shop would be great if you are looking to dress up for a special occasion & they have good selection of girlie belts & handbags.

Wa Wa, Aungier street

They are very heavy on the girlie theme in the shop also, which I suppose is good as it does feel like a nice (non-smelly!) charity shop to go into but you may not find this place worth stopping in if you have a different style of dressing.

Vincent’s, Aungier Street

The massive plastic red hangers that are an unfortunate trademark of Vincent’s stores are so useless they will make you want to tear your eyeballs out when they fall off the rack every time you touch a garment on it. You have been warned. Actually, too late, I should have told you at the first Vincent’s in Rathmines!

This store is not the prettiest and is unlikely to be in keeping with any variation of feng shui but what it lacks in aesthetics it makes up for in content. You can find anything and everything clothing-wise in this store. They have a permanent sale rack & a small ‘elegance’ section so if you are feeling particularly flush or, particularly broke there’s still something here for you!

Simon’s Place

Again, not a shop but, if you’re getting as hungry doing this route as I am just talking about it then you may need some light refreshments at this point; introducing Simon’s place.

This is one of the few cafes that remain completely unchanged in Dublin. It’s not fancy, it’s not trendy, and it doesn’t serve the latest fad in the food industry. It just serves honest food, honest tea & has a lovely laid back atmosphere. Despite the millions of cafes on offer in the city centre, Simon’s place is where I always come back to, especially when I’m out shopping alone try it, have a sandwich, get a side salad, it’s good.

Enable Ireland, George’s Street

I wouldn’t say this shop is specifically good for any particular item but just good for a browse, getting this close to town means there is a big increase in footfall, this is great as the stock is more regularly replenished but means that unless you had it in you to be checking every day, you are no-doubt going to miss some budget beauties (the prospects of which is always heart breaking!)

St Vincents, George’s Street

This shop feel larger than the others with a high ceiling (fancy) and a half second floor where the men’s clothing and a great vintage section lives. This shop seems to lack the other ‘tat’ than can often be housed in charity shops & distract a shopper from the job at hand.

Oxfam, Georges Street

They have a great vintage section which a little pricier but there is some beautiful stuff to be found. They also have a bridal section that you need a booking to access but is no doubt worth a visit if you are planning that big day. The rest of the clothes they have are pretty uninspiring & there’s not a huge selection.

This shop tends to err on the side of ‘more is more’ when it comes to the air fresheners and while this is vaguely better than the musk from the Simon shop I was going on about, it’s actually so strong that I feel I can smell it as I type… haunted by it (and so will be any clothes you purchase from them!)

Quick charity shopping tips:

  • Don’t just buy something because it is designer or a high street brand you like. This is a mistake I made a lot at the start but choosing exactly what you like is the best thing about charity shopping so relish & don’t be sucked in by brands.
  • Take risks, there’s no better time to do it than when the clothes cost less than a sandwich & the money is going to a good cause anyway. Some of the items I have bought on a whim have turned out to be my most treasured possessions.
  • It’s not a bad idea to bring some cotton bags in your handbag; some charity shops can be short on carrier bags.
  • If there’s something that you really love but it is too big/too long consider getting it altered. A brilliant quality suit bought in a charity shop and then professionally altered to your shape will be tailor-made to you for a fraction of the price.
  • If you see a dress you love but have that ‘but I have nowhere to wear it to’ buy it. Next time a wedding or special occasion comes around you will already have the perfect outfit and won’t need to spend time running around town in a panic or forking out a ridiculous amount for something you may only wear once.
  • Bring cash as they ain’t interested in anything else.

Words: i come undone

Illustration: Sarah Cunningham

Sarah shares more of her charity shop skills in Dun Laoghaire to Phibsborough