In Batley, Yorkshire, there’s a magical place. It’s called Wastesaver and it takes the unsold second hand treasures donated to Oxfam shops and puts them to good use.
At the heart of this recycling centre is a vibrant hub. Here, a team of passionate volunteers take preloved clothes, shoes, accessories and more – and list them on the Oxfam Online Shop. Magic.
Take a tour with Holly, the Manager of the Oxfam Online Shop, in the video below or read on for a behind-the-scenes look and our top tips for browsing. There’s also a treat at the end of this blog for your next shop!
What is the Oxfam Online Shop?
The Oxfam Online Shop lists 100,000 donated items for you to shop from. An online version of hunting through your local high street charity shops for those unbelievable finds.
And just like when you shop in our Oxfam high street shops, the income raised through our Online Shop all goes towards a fairer world for the poorest people.
Behind-the-scenes clothes rails and accessory shelves all listed on the online shop.
Where do the donations come from?
The donations come from all over the country.
Most likely, they’re items that haven’t managed to find a new home at their local Oxfam shop. And because we have to regularly make way for fresh donations, unsold items are sent on to our Batley recycling centre and Online Shop. There they have a second chance at selling to a worldwide audience.
When items are put into the donation banks (for example, at your local supermarket), those items are sometimes brought directly to Batley. And even fashion retailers send their excess stock here for us to sell!
They are all put in the entrance of the recycling centre and sorted on huge conveyor belts to decide what’s best to do with the items.
From sorting to rail – Oxfam experts work out whether items are right for Oxfam’s Online Shop.
If the items aren’t right for the online shop customer, they could be saved to go to festivals in the summer with our Festival Shop team. Or sent out to a different Oxfam high street shop better suited to selling that item. If the item can’t be resold, it gets recycled and turned into things like mattress filler.
No textiles donated to Oxfam end up in landfill and this recycling centre alone saves 12,000 tonnes of textiles from going to landfill every year. This is in addition to the 2000 tonnes of donated clothing sold through the shops.
What happens once they’ve been chosen for selling online?
This is where the dedicated team of volunteers start the process by giving each piece a little bit of TLC. We steam, iron and even repair garments on-site. Then it’s off to a photography booth to take fabulous photos of them for the website. Finally, pieces are researched, described and priced before going live and available to buy.
Volunteers photographing the donations and doing a mini photoshoot for social media before listing online.
Top Tips for finding those gems
As with a high street shop, searching for second hand gems online can take patience, skill and a willingness to look at plenty of things that aren’t your style.
Here are the top 3 tips in finding those gems:
Whether by size, brand, price or more. You can select multiple by clicking on, for example “Size 14”, and then also choosing “Size 16” once the initial results have loaded. It will add your filters together.
2. Using the search bar
When you have a particular item or brand in mind, searching for it will pull up every result relevant to that term. It might take a minute to get those results up, but you can then browse a big range of the type of thing you’re looking for.
3. Browsing “view all” at the bottom of each category
This will show you all the latest listings, regardless of size, brand etc. It means you can see a huge range of new items on the shop and spot things that might be in sizes you wouldn’t typically shop. Another great tip is to do this for both women’s and men’s. Items like trainers, jumpers and bags can sometimes be listed in one or the other so you might find something you love in an unexpected place!
And if you made it this far, make sure to use code secondhand14 for 14% off the Oxfam Online Shop on your next order. Terms and conditions apply.