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The rise and shine of Limerick’s charity shops

Sally and Deirdre, who have been volunteering with Irish Cancer Society for nearly ten years
Michaela Deane

Over the past number of years, there’s been a huge surge in the amount of people who decide to buy clothes second hand. Whether they’re buying a new winter coat or school uniforms for their children, people are turning to charity shops now more than they ever have before.

Gone are the days where there was a stigma attached to buying clothes second hand. Once seen as something left to the poor people, this myth has been debunked entirely.

Assumpta King, who works in the Irish Cancer Society shop at the top of William Street, says that the amount of people who are buying from their shop has increased hugely.

“We have a lot more young people and college students who know about the shop. Word seems to be spreading, we seem to have changed our customers since we moved over here, there’s a different much clientele coming in.”

Stylish window display for Irish Cancer Society

Stylish window display for Irish Cancer Society. Photo by Michaela Deane 

They moved to a bigger unit a year and a half ago; before this they were in a shop less than half the size of what they have now. The increasing interest in buying second hand meant that they badly needed to increase the size of their shop.

It’s easier than you’d think to find a designer piece at a bargain price in charity shops too. Limerick Voice reporter Michaela Deane’s own favourite finds in Limerick have been a denim Pepe Jeans’ jacket, a Ralph Lauren jumper and a GAP corduroy jacket, each costing less than €8 on separate lucky occasions.

Sally and Deirdre, who have been volunteering with Irish Cancer Society for nearly ten years

Sally and Deirdre, who have been volunteering with Irish Cancer Society for nearly ten years. Photo by Michaela Deane

Jackie Fivey, who works in the Limerick Animal Welfare shop on William Street, says that people come in especially to look for these things.

“People realise now that they can’t afford the designer jackets and jumpers in big stores. But they know you can come in here and pick up something designer for little to nothing, and what that does for us is absolutely fantastic.”

Window display at Limerick Animal Welfare ahead of Christmas

Window display at Limerick Animal Welfare ahead of Christmas. Photo by Michaela Deane 

Designer labels aside, wearing used clothes is actually good for the environment too. Do you ever wonder what happens to your clothes when you get rid of them? No matter how grubby you think they get after a year or two of wear, when you throw them away they won’t just disintegrate into nothing.

Man-made fibres won’t compose, and while woollen material will, they produce methane which can contribute to global warming.

Over 1 million tonnes of textiles are thrown away every year mostly from our homes, and only 25% of these are recycled. However when we recycle our clothes by giving them to charity shops, this reduces the need for landfill space, resulting in less pollution and energy savings because less fibres are transported from abroad.

Coming up to Christmas time, you never know what you could find that would make a good stocking filler. And you don’t even have to feel bad about spending, knowing that you’re recycling and helping out a charity at the same time.

Chris Benson, who works in the Milford Hospice Shop, compares shopping second-hand to doing the lottery.

“You never know what you’ll find in here, its complete pot luck. And if you’re not in it, you can’t win it.”

Some of the display at Milford Hospice Shop

Some of the display at Milford Hospice Shop

Milford Hospice Shop

Milford Hospice Shop

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