If you needed convincing that thrifting is widespread, imagine our surprise at finding four thrift stores in the market town of Cootehill in County Cavan, Ireland, population 1,853.
Three of them — the Palliative Care Charity Shop (run by the Irish Hospice Foundation), Vincent’s (run by St. Vincent’s de Paul) and New2U Charity Shop (run by Cootehill Christian Fellowship) — support health and other local services. The fourth, From Good to Good: Second Hand Shop, is a for-profit resale operation that just opened in February.
They are small shops with women’s, men’s and children’s clothing and shoes, and a smattering of housewares.
The offerings at all the shops are in very good condition, especially the shoes. Coats and sweaters are in abundance. Vincent’s had a full rack of women’s down vests, a staple wardrobe item here, from 2 to 5 pounds ($3-7). There were 1-pound ($1.50) racks with even bigger bargains. As always, we found several items that were brand new with original tags attached.
We were attracted to the hardy school sweaters, with their attractive crests, and football windbreakers, usually lined and with embroidered team names and crests. The windbreakers are perfect for watching games in the winter and spring chill. The one we bought was 10 pounds ($15) and carries the emblem of the “Maroubra Lions” a rugby club in the eastern suburbs of Sydney, Australia. As we’ve found many times before, expect the unexpected in thrift stores.
New2U, run by volunteers, describes its clothing as “pre-loved.” Purses for sale there were priced according to size, 1 Irish pound ($1.50) for wallets, 2 pounds for clutches and 3 pounds for full-sizes bags. We found a black pleated fabric purse with a chain link strap that is the perfect size for evenings out, with sufficient room for a cell phone and keys.
The Irish Charity Shops Association “the voice of charity retail in Ireland” has a useful website, icsa.ie, where you can search shop locations by county and for categories like bridal, vintage, books and furniture. Its 39 members groups (Irish Cancer Society, Irish Wheelchair Association, Oxfam Ireland, Irish Deaf Society, Ark Housing Association) run 450 shops in the country and are registered with the Irish Charities Regulator to ensure ethical fundraising.
However, not all charitable shops are members. Of the three nonprofit shops we visited in Cootehill, only Vincent’s was on the website registry.
Palliative Care Charity Shop, Market Street, Drumaveil North, Cootehill, County Cavan, Ireland. Open Monday through Saturday 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Vincent’s Cootehill, 77 Market St., Drumaveil North, Cootehill, County Cavan, Ireland. 049-555-6972. Open Monday through Saturday 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
New2U Charity Shop, 66 Bridge St., Cootehill, County Cavan, Ireland. Open Friday and Saturday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Good to Good: Second Hand Shop, 41 Bridge St., Cootehill, County Cavan, Ireland. 087-055-0150. Open Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.