My lovely friend Ella with a few of our buys and almost-buysHannah Gillott

With term over and 14 hours of sleep under my belt, I woke up with a renewed sense of purpose. Today was the day that I would finally make the Ely pilgrimage. To see the cathedral? Of course not. It closes at 5pm, which is exactly when all charity shops close up too. No, today I would freely spend an extortionate amount of money  on clothes, while I quibbled at the £3.54 open return. Today was the day that I would hit the Ely charity shops. I had no idea that there were this many charities, nor that I would donate to so many in one afternoon. But my do-gooding would not end there, and so here is the ultimate act of service: The Ely Charity Shop Review.


The best charity shop Ely has to offerHannah gillott

One of the biggest shops on the road, Oxfam had a fantastic selection of not only clothes but trinkets, accessories, shoes, books, and even DVDs for the geriatric amongst you. Truly vintage. It also boasted a fantastic collection of skinny scarves - perfect to slightly warm the necks of any Sidge girl - and reasonably priced, good quality clothing. Winning the prize for the loveliest staff, this was by far our most successful stop. It didn’t have a changing room, but we didn’t care. Nothing needed returning.

Score = 5/5


With a delicious selection of formal dresses, this is the place to find that May Ball dress you’re starting to look for, and although its prices were a little higher, its quality reflected that. Mind was a sea of Monsoon, Per Una, and the classic that is River Island. And we were loving it.

Score = 4.5/5


Your May Ball dress dreamsHannah Gillott

In Each, we felt like we had been transported to that scene in Wild Child where they cobbled together the most iconic fits of the late 2000s in the space of an afternoon and a single changing room between five. Unfortunately, we came out empty handed - the prices of this ‘boutique’ charity shop were a little out of our range. But if you’re looking for a physical manifestation of a Depop reseller’s fantasy, and want to find a few fantastic pieces, albeit at a higher price, this is the stop for you. It also had an impressive selection of wedding dresses. Make of that what you will.

Score = 4.5/5

Cancer Research

Boasting an impressive heel collection, we began to wonder if the good people of Ely were shoe fanatics. So if you’re looking to learn to trip over at varying heights and in different ways, or cheaply furnishing a new kitchen (the homeware selection was extensive) this is the place for you. The clothes, unfortunately, were less impressive, save for a gorgeous collection of men’s shirts, although there were some good finds. With two spacious changing rooms, though, it is the perfect place to try on your Oxfam buys. 

Score = 3.5/5


Disappointing but not particularly exciting, the clothes on offer were a solid selection, with the jumper rail a standout, offering a selection of spring-y, colourful options. The real highlight wasn’t the clothes, though, but the records, with the books a close second, offered at five for £1. As my notes put it: “Good vibes. Decent stuff”.

Score = 3.5/5


Scope, true to its name, was a rollercoaster of a charity shop, offering everything from a rack of plush vegetable toys, to a Superman cycling vest, to a fantastic leather jacket that I wish I had bought. If you’re looking to have an affair with your boss, it stocked the perfect internship chic trousers. Still, its selection of dresses and miscellaneous trouser collection did lean a little 2012 Zooey Deschanel core for me. The menswear, once again, was Scope’s saving grace.

Score = 3/5

British Heart Foundation

Hannah Gillott

If you like a calm and leisurely shopping experience, this stop is not for you. A disorganised jumble of clothes from my 11-year-old wardrobe (when I loved a cheeky mint green skinny jean), BHF was the most underwhelming of the bunch, and the prices were pretty high. Still, there were plenty of needles of gold in that haystack, and once again, the shoes were a standout

Score = 2.5/5

Age UK

Although pretty neutral on the contents of Age UK, we loved its feel. Spacious, with wooden beams and calming music, it was the perfect palette cleanser after the overwhelming experience that was BHF. The clothes, sadly, reflected this tranquil atmosphere, and it would potentially be a better shop for an M&S-loving cream-wearing mum.

Score = 2.5/5

Sue Ryder


Mountain View

Charity shop ranking: Mill Road edition

Our final stop was sadly thwarted by scandal. Sue Ryder closed at 4:30pm, rather than the unspoken, but universally acknowledged, 5pm. The only thing stopping us from suing Sue herself was that, from a look through the window, the shop seemed to offer furniture more than clothes. Either that or the shop has a gorgeous seating area bang in the middle. Sadly, Ella and I turned back Sue Ryder-less, and so cannot offer you a rating.

Score = ??/5

Traipsing back to the train station, we were exhausted. But it was helpful knowing it was all for a good cause: a review. Or charity, too, I suppose. So how to round up such an experience? Maybe with my friends’ summary after they watched five minutes of Snapchat videos about it: 9/10 haul, 2/10 viewing experience. I just hope the reading experience was slightly better.