I visited a Manchester charity shop and found PrettyLittleThing, Boohoo and vintage bargains – Bethan Shufflebotham


Charity shops are ten a penny in Manchester city centre, but there’s one where you can find branded clothes with tags, as well as stunning vintage pieces for a couple of quid.

The British Heart Foundation charity shop at Piccadilly Gardens is a not-so-hidden gem in the heart of Manchester, and offers a treasure trove of clothes and accessories, with PrettyLittleThing and Boohoo pieces among vintage finds and donations from the public.

And, with someone in Greater Manchester dying from a heart or circulatory disease every 80 minutes, the charity shop is doing everything they can to raise vital research funds with their on-trend stock.

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Located on the Piccadilly approach, the BHF charity shop opened in September 2020. From the outside, the shop looks fairly unassuming – a pleasantly put-together window display – but nothing to suggest it offers anything much different to any other charity shop.

British Heart Foundation Piccadilly Gardens
British Heart Foundation Piccadilly Gardens

But inside, thrifters can pick up a whole new wardrobe with change from a £20 note, some of which still have tags having been donated from retailers like Manchester-based PrettyLittleThing. The online fast fashion giant has helped the charity raise more than £700,000, preventing perfectly good clothes from ending up in landfill.

And, in the next 12 months, it’s estimated that the British Heart Foundation will save around 71,000 tonnes of goods from going to waste, selling over half a million pieces of living room furniture and 14,000 tonnes of preloved clothes.

I went to visit the popular thrifting haunt to see what kind of bargains could be had. I’m no stranger to rifling the rails of charity shops, vintage stores and second hand retailers, but I was stunned at how much color filled the floor of the BHF building.

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Rails and rails were filled with rainbows of garments, many of which still had their original tags, meaning you could see just how much money could be saved by shopping here instead of online. One of the first pieces to catch my eye was a blue floral PLT dress with wrap and ruched detailing and puffed sleeves perfect for a summer picnic. Looking at similar pieces online, this would have cost around £25 new, but you could snap it up in the charity shop for just £12.

A dress like this from PrettyLittleThing would usually cost £25
A dress like this from PrettyLittleThing would usually cost £25

Flicking through the coathangers there were so many different styles and textures, from red leather-look trousers, to denim jackets and even Disney Mickey Mouse jumpers. The window rail saw a number of silky pajama sets – including a gorgeous olive colored set for £25, as well as a long floral set, one with swirls, and a number of short nightwear sets too.

Shoppers could pick up stunning pajama sets without the need to pay for delivery, either
Shoppers could pick up stunning pajama sets without the need to pay for delivery, either

A size eight oversized blazer featuring two contrasting checks would likely have been around £35 on the PLT website in previous months, but shoppers can pick it up for £18 in the charity shop, which offers a more sustainable way of picking up on-trend pieces at a lower price. Other pieces spotted in the store included a whole rack of new-with-tags bikinis from PLT, retailing at £10 each, was well as dresses from as little as £5 and skirts, shorts and trousers.

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But a whole other section of the store contains vintage finds, including preloved denim, old school sports jerseys and fashion pieces from eras gone by. A retro green Nike top with yellow branding came in at £10, alongside a vintage teal, floral blazer for £20.

Part of the British Heart Foundation Piccadilly Gardens' store vintage section
Part of the British Heart Foundation Piccadilly Gardens’ store vintage section

Not only is the charity shop on Instagram, but they’ve also started to dip their toe into TikTok, too, hoping to reach more shoppers with their videos of new pieces and styling. The charity show is open seven days a week from 10am to 7pm Monday to Saturday, and 12pm to 6pm on Sundays.

Donations to the charity shop help fund research into cardiovascular diseases and treatments, as well as influencing work to raise awareness of heart risk factors. And, should you wish to lend a hand in one of Manchester’s coolest charity shops, they’re looking for volunteers.


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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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