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The Art of Thrift Shopping in Leeds

· Ali Turner · Style

The Art of Thrift Shopping in Leeds

Us Yorkshire folk are famed for watching our pennies, so it’ll come as no surprise that thrift shopping is a popular pastime in Leeds.

We’re keen to embrace good, old Yorkshire thrift, and not just by putting together a nifty guide to the latest restaurant offers – we’re also keen to make your money go further when it comes to shopping.

So as well as frequenting the wealth of independent, designer and high street stores that line the city’s streets, you’ll also find us thrift shopping in Leeds’ charity shops – because sometimes, foraging for a unique, pre-loved piece is more exciting than plundering the rails of a high street store.

What is thrift shopping?

In its most basic form, thrift shopping simply means buying second hand – so you’ve certainly got plenty of options in Leeds. Between the charity stores, the vintage shops and the various events that take place around the city, you’ll be positively spoilt for choice.

Raw thrift – Leeds Charity stores


It’s true, charity shops are filled with junk, but the age old saying is true – one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. And if you look hard enough, you might find something special.

That’s the joy of thrift shopping in Leeds – you never quite know what you’re going to find. And let’s face it, rummaging around for a thrifty treasure is no different to hunting for a bargain in the height of the sales, except the Leeds’ charity shops don’t tend to be quite so crowded.

So which ones are worth a visit? Well, the British Heart Foundation, which sits opposite Leeds Kirkgate Market, sells an impressive and ever-changing selection of furniture. It’s the perfect spot for thrift shopping in Leeds, especially if you’re about to jump on the property ladder.

PDSA, behind House of Fraser on Central Road, Scope on the Headrow, and the RSPCA shop on New Market Street are more traditional in their format, offering clothes, knick-knacks and the odd book or kitchen item. These Leeds charity shops are worth a look when you’re scouting around for vintage fashion, and you can often find classic pieces from days gone by at half the price you’d pay in one of the city’s vintage stores.

The Art of Thrift Shopping in Leeds

Out in the Leeds suburbs, Oxfam Books in Headingley is a thrift shopping dream, with everything from sci-fi to romance novels, not to mention signed and rare editions that are every bit as special as they sound. Sue Ryder, just down the road, specialises in vintage and retro pieces, so you can indulge your fashion cravings too.

And of course, no guide to thrift shopping in Leeds would be complete without St Gemma’s Hospice. The local charity owns a special place in our hearts. They do great work, and have a reputation for selling some of the best pre-loved clothes and bric-a-brac in the city.

You’ll find St Gemma’s charity stores in many a Leeds suburb, including a special furniture store in Chapel Allerton. Look out for their car boot sales and vintage fairs, which take place throughout the year and are absolutely brimming with bargains.

Curated thrift – Leeds vintage stores


Thrift shopping in the Leeds’ vintage stores feels a little bit like cheating. The pieces in these shops have, after all, been handpicked, so in a way, someone else has done the foraging for you – and this service doesn’t come for free. The price you’ll pay in a vintage store is a long way from the one you’d pay in a charity store, where clothes are donated rather than purchased.

But there’s no denying the fact that visiting one of the city’s many vintage stores will cut down your hunting time and help you find a bargain faster. From Alice Found Treasure, a small but perfectly formed vintage store, filled with fashion and a few, carefully chosen items of jewellery, to Upstaged, a vintage playground that will have you rummaging for hours – you can lose a day, and a fair chunk of your bank balance to Leeds’ vintage shops. But you will, of course, come home with some incredible finds.

So if you don’t mind a little cheating and you’d like to short-cut your thrift shopping efforts, be sure read our guide to the vintage shopping scene in Leeds.