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Guide to Edinburgh vintage and charity shops

edinburgh charity shops

Summer and with it holiday season is almost here!

My fair city Edinburgh is always a popular as a city trip for those in the UK and as a stop off on longer Scotland/UK/Europe trips for those from further afield, I thought I’d do a little guide of vintage and charity shops. As you will know if you read this blog regularly I am a massive charity shopper (I used to do a series called charity shop finds), and having lived in different parts of Edinburgh for what seems like forever, I thought I’d share the knowledge I have accumulated over the the last 11 years. I hope that this will be useful to anyone wanting to do something a little different from the tourist standards on their visit!

I’ve organised this post around the Edinburgh Charity Shop and Resuse map, which is produced by local recyling/sustainability organisation Changeworks (I worked there one summer during my undergrad!) which lists every single charity shop in the city. Which is great if you live here, but obviously doesn’t help much if your time is limited and you don’t know what different parts of the city are like.

So what I’ve done is picked out some of the areas that have lots of charity/vintage shops, added a little description of the area and picked out some of the shops I particularly like and what kind of things they are good at (obviously that will depend on what people donate though). I should also point out that Edinburgh charity shops are not cheap compared to other parts of the country (like lucky Vix and her 50p steals!) its a big reasonably wealthy city with lots of demand. Expect to pay £3-6 for a top, £4-8 for trousers or skirts, quite a bit more for designer brands or vintage. The upside of steady demand is that stuff doesn’t tend to stay in most shops, and new stock comes in all the time, so few places feel picked over.

Anyhoo, lets get on with it!

edinburgh charity shop map


This is the student area right next to the (Edinburgh) university and the area with the highest concentrations of charity shops in the city. On Nicholson Street they are actually one right next to the other, so even with a spare half hour you can get through lots of them. My favourite ones there are Shelter, which I used to be obsessed with when I lived in the area as a student and for years was the only charity shop that would put effort into its window displays (the others have now caught up) and Oxfam, which has a good selection of high street stuff and new sustainable/fairtrade things like jewellery, chocolate, bags, cleaning products etc. Further along the street, on Clerk Street is one of the three branches of Armstrong’s vintage, the best one in my opinion, with less proper pre-1960s stuff, but more reasonable prices than the bigger Grassmarket branch, and a great selection of second hand cashmere, and some great 70s and 80s bits that can (almost) compete with the charity shops in terms of price.


Stockbridge is a lovely upmarket family and young professional area, and the main street is an ideal place to wander down on the way to or from the Botanical Gardens. The charity shops are on the road that starts off as Deanhaugh Street nearest town and then turns into Reaburn Place and eventually Comely Bank Road. The charity shops are a bit more spread out than they are in Newington, and mixed up with lovely little independent shops, including the jewellerer where we got my engagement ring. Stockbridge is also a great place to stop for food or coffee. My favourite shops are the Hospices of Hope, which is tiny but I’ve got surprisingly much from, Barnado’s, which makes so much effort with decoration that it almost looks like a commercial shop and Cancer Research, which has a good vintage section, and St. Columba’s right at the far end, which is crap for clothes but has great knick/knacks and crockery, and often does 50% off days. There’s also a Mary Portas Save the Children one, which I have written about before, and I actually don’t bother going into any more, it’s so ridiculously overpriced and they’ve let the interior get too cramped and it’s actually not as nice as the Barnado’s.

The Grassmarket

The Grassmarket is right in the middle of the historic centre tourist area, with lots of pubs and great views of the Castle. It’s also a place of many commerical vintage shops. There’s only one charity shop, Barnado’s Vintage, which has only got vintage stuff and looks lovely, though it is small and I’ve never actually bought anything from there. The most prominent of the vintage shops in the biggest (and original) branch of Armstrong’s. It’s very big, the front room has a lot of stuff from the 1950s or earlier, which is lovely to look at but very expensive (last time I was in there, they sold a 50s dress with all the seams going and bits ripped out of the sleeves so that they were beyond repair and would have to be taken off for £35), the second room is menswear, with lots of uniforms, and the back room has more normal priced stuff from the 60s onwards, including a bit of contemporary and lots of hats. Further along the west end of the Grassmarket, there’s Iconic, a fab homewear/aniques/20th century design shop, and on West Bow, the street leading from there towards the Art College, there’s Godiva, which sells re-designed and re-fashioned vintage at boutique prices, and Herman Brown, a vintage shop I’ve never gone into but is meant to be good.


I’ve only started going to there semi regularly recently. Tollcross is quite traffickey so it’s not the best place to wander about, but it gets leafier as you go up Home Street and it turns into Bruntsfield Place, where you also get nice independent shops and cafes. And there’s some great bargains to be had, with prices a wee bit lower than elsewhere. I love the new Salvation Army, which has vintage at the most bizarrely high prices, but is cheap as chips for everything else, including curtains and sheets for sewing. I’ve got some great vintage dresses from the Shelter shop, and Birth Link Thrift shop, Scotlands/Edinburgh’s oldest charity shop is worth a visit. It’s more like an unreconstituted old-style charity shop but is relatively big and cheap.


As you follow the main road out of the city, Bruntsfield turns into Morningside, a wealthy and sedate part of town, with lots of big houses and middle aged ladies who lunch. I’ve made the bus journey or cycle ride out a few times to go to Loopy Lorna’s, and amazing afternoon tea type cafe, and there’s lots of charity shops there. I don’t know that part of town well enough to know the character of each, but this being a rich part of town, upmarket brand cast offs are common. I’ve got quite a few things from the Morningside Road Shelter shop (not as far out as the others) and just off it on Colinton Road there’s an adorable antiques shop called City Vintage that stocks furniture, homewares collectables and a tiny little bit of clothing. I’d never pay the kinds of prices they are asking for some of it but its great for browsing.


Leith is a large part of Edinburgh (it used to be it’s own town, but got merged into the main city) with a strong working class identity. Although they’ve been speaking of it being regenerated for decades, there’s not much in the way of middle classey cafe culture that is cropping up everywhere else. Its still a place of old man’s pubs, random hardware shops and specialist ethnic minority businesses. A fascinating place, but since we’re talking charity shops, probably not ideal, many charity shops near the foot of Leith Walk and Great Junction Street in particular are pretty grotty. I wouldn’t have included this area at all except for the fact that I live there and both my favourite charity shops are here. The first is the St. Columba’s about half way down Leith Walk. The clothes section is small, but they have an amazing crockery/homewares section, and massive amounts of curtains, bedding and lacey table cloths. And it’s staffed by blue aproned old ladies who are always up for a wee chat. The other one is the Salvation Army near the bottom of the walk, which always has great vintage dresses, and unlike the Tllcross Sally Army, the vintage isn’t priced at vintage shop prices. I’ve got three dresses there so far, and the most expensive one was £10. I still wish they’d put in a changing rooom though!

So there we are, charity and vintage shop Edinburgh! I hope I haven’t bored anyone, and anyone with specific questions, feel free to shoot me an email. The proper addresses of the shops can be found on the Charity Shop map. If you’re from here or have visited and have your own favourites, please share!

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • cervixosaurus 31 May 2011, 7:29 am

    I used that map last year when I was living in Glasgow and visited Edinburgh for the weekend! I have very fond memories of wandering along Nicholson st in bliss while my travel mates were looking at the castle. I'm a pretty bad tourist, never did get up close to the castle, but had a great time 🙂

  • oranges_and_apples 31 May 2011, 7:38 am

    I worked in the castle cafe one summer and hated it! I could have looked
    round any day but I never did, I just wanted to get out as quickly as

  • Vix 31 May 2011, 8:09 am

    This is brilliant, Franca. I'm bookmarking this, hopefully when our new campervan is ready we'll be able to take a road trip to Scotland. xxx

  • Debi 31 May 2011, 8:47 am

    This is FABULOUS! I definitely want to link to this from my blog!!!

  • Penny Dreadful 31 May 2011, 9:21 am

    This is fantastic Franca, I will bookmark this for use next time I am in Edinburgh. I did buy something from that Grassmarket Barnado's Vintage last time I was up, a lovely 50s style skirt. Had a rummage in Armstrong's too but it was overwhelming! xx 

  • Pullyoursocksup 31 May 2011, 11:02 am

    Nice one Franca!!  I love the map and the background on each district that you've added with your fave shops:))).  I've bookmarked this in my "One Day" folder. xo

  • Cat McShane 31 May 2011, 11:22 am

    This is awesome, and really accurate! I've never ventured into the Leith shops, so I will make a point to go this week. I hope it's okay to link to this from my blog, it's such a good idea!

  • oranges_and_apples 31 May 2011, 11:24 am

    Of course, I'm flattered! Link away!

  • Shelley 31 May 2011, 11:36 am

    Brilliant post, almost a birthday present: Thank You!  My step-daughter lives in Edinburgh and we've been up several times to see her.  On my wishlist the next time we go is to visit the charity shops in Morningside.  Sarah says that's a 'nice' area.  I use the Office of National Statistics website and yell.com to come up with a list of charity shops in the wealthier areas of a city I'm going to visit.  I scored big time in Liverpool and Manchester doing this.  Must check out some of the resources you've listed as well.  Thanks again!

  • Audi 31 May 2011, 7:18 pm

    Great post — I'm bookmarking this one for future travels to Edinburgh!

  • JoAnn, Sidewalk Chic 1 June 2011, 1:25 am

    What a fun little guide! I'm totally jealous I don't live in Edinburgh now 🙂

  • Leia 1 June 2011, 8:23 am

    Awww darn I wish I could visit Edinburg and play around in all these shops! 

  • Jeanofalltrades 1 June 2011, 3:45 pm

    Excellent pictures and post. Ill bookmark this and save it for my next trip to Edinburgh. It's my dad's hometown, and even though we live far away now, my family visits now and again. It's on my list of cities to visit. I love Edinburgh (and thrifting)!

  • Jeanofalltrades 1 June 2011, 3:47 pm

    Oh, and Oxfam! You're lucky to have such a quality shop. I visited North Berwick in 94 when my parents lived there for a year and found Oxfam. Miss it so…

  • Fashionpearlsofwisdom 1 June 2011, 5:55 pm

    What a brilliant post, so helpful I reallly want to pay a visit now!

  • SACRAMENTO 2 June 2011, 8:30 am

    Thank you so much Franca for this guide. Everytime I go to England,and Scotland I go Charity shop hunting, so this will come very handy. It is very generous og you, my dear friend.

  • Roisin 2 June 2011, 9:56 am

    The timing of this is perfect for me as my boyfriend and I have decided to have a holiday in Edinburgh in September – a week or so, so plenty of time to explore all of the vintage and charity shops as well as all of the cultural places! I loved the Banardo's on the Grassmarket the last time I was there so I'm looking forward to wandering around again. Also if you'd feel like a little blogger meet-up I'd love to take you out for a coffee!

  • oranges_and_apples 2 June 2011, 10:03 am

    Yes! Though my wedding is on the 2nd and then we're on honeymoon for 2
    weeks, so I probably won't be about. 🙁

  • Roisin 4 June 2011, 5:16 pm

    Oh, your wedding! We won't be in Edinburgh til the last week of September though so you might be back by then x

  • Alexandra Thérèse 12 June 2011, 8:38 pm

    Hi Franca, thanks for your comment on my blog, I too can't wait to see how the print looks in pride of place on my wall! Would you be ok if I linked to this post on my blog and used a couple of pictures from it? I'm doing a round up of my favourite recent posts and this is one of them! It's a great idea – you've made me want to visit Edinburgh now, if only to charity shop!


  • Maria Zabala Peña 21 August 2012, 8:31 pm

    I’m a teacher of English in Spain. This Thursday I will be in Edinburgh for the fringe. As I’m going alone, I will have time to devote to my other hobby: vintage and charity shopping. Thanks for your help
    Maria Zabala Peña recently posted..Autonomous learning. BBC wordmasterMy Profile

  • Gemma Jackson 27 August 2012, 1:01 pm

    This is amazing. Thank you so much! I am coming to Edinburgh, alone in two weeks & I cannot wait to visit all of these shops! Also heading to North Berrick to visit the charity shops there. Im a self obessed charity shop obsessive!

  • John 2 September 2012, 6:36 pm

    I had just written a piece about Edinburgh charity shops when I found your site. Excellent piece!

    My own piece is here: http://bit.ly/SbqAVG

  • Becca 9 September 2012, 4:18 pm

    Hi, thanks a lot for the peice, visiting edingburgh tommorow from london, can’t wait to scour the charity shops!

  • Sarah 13 October 2012, 9:23 am

    Thanks so much for this useful info. I had to get a dress recently for a Wedding and could not afford high street prices and didn’t want something cheap and nasty from lower end high street. So I took your advice and headed to Morningside where I got a lovely Debenhams Debut dress from the Cancer Research shop for £12 along with some trousers from Laura Ashley for £6 from the Shelter shop (a mega bargain – as I have only ever dreamed of owning Laura Ashley stuff before!). Great advice!

  • Floss 4 January 2013, 10:20 am

    Hi – I found this post when I googled the Charity Shops map in order to send someone else a link – I’ve used the maps too and I really enjoyed reading your ‘take’ on the shops! My dad lives near Stockbridge and I go there every time I visit him. I love your Mary Portas comments – I call that one ‘Charity Shop Lite’.

    This was my review, a while back: http://trocbroc.blogspot.fr/2009/06/charity-shops-of-edinburgh-personal.html

    So, nice to meet you, and Happy New Year 2013!
    Floss recently posted..French Breakfast – Epiphany StyleMy Profile

  • Aah I could have done with this when I visited last year!
    Lakota [Faith hope and Charity Shopping] recently posted..Christmas Swap 2012 Link Up – Please add your postsMy Profile

  • mary 17 March 2013, 3:43 pm

    Barnardos Vintage in the Grassmarket has gone. I’d highly recommend the Doocot on leith walk though v good for haberdashery and a big knitting needle selection but take a sizer!
    mary recently posted..rain rain go awayMy Profile

  • Krystal 15 May 2013, 12:39 am

    Thanks so much for this! As an American relocating to Edinburgh, I’ve noticed the UK isn’t quite as obsessed with used clothing stores as we are, so this helps me quite a lot! Cheers 🙂
    Krystal recently posted..SmoothiesMy Profile

  • ANNALISA 23 May 2013, 7:27 am

    grazie per questo bel post, mi sarà molto utile perchè spero tanto di andare ad Edimburgo a gennaio prossimo……sono una fan del riciclo del riuso e della carità!
    un abbraccio
    ANNALISA recently posted..shabbychic, un tocco di violaMy Profile

  • Emnaa ates 14 October 2013, 11:07 am

    I love yiur guide but still cant quite work out where might be best place for me to find a good 1950s dress if i am only here for sn afternoon; is it the leith salvation army?
    Appreciate yiur help!

    • Franca 15 October 2013, 12:04 pm

      I would say one of the armstrongs. With charity shops you never know, but since they’re vintage shops they will always have 50s dresses.

  • Nuala Ni Chonchuir 4 December 2013, 5:54 pm

    Hi Franca, I want to thank you for this great post, it was so useful to me last weekend in Edinburgh. We went to Stockbridge and Newington and had a great time – I got so many cute things, including Christmassy items and 4 Caithness vases, which I collect. I can’t thank you enough! We loved Edinburgh in general – beautiful city, lots of good veggie food too.
    Warm wishes from Ireland,
    Nuala Ni Chonchuir recently posted..Cúirt New Writing Prize 2014My Profile