Charity Stores to Shop and Give Back

By Lynn Yen 2021-03-17 17:37:37


There are many reasons to visit a charity shop where profits go toward worthy causes and benefit the less fortunate. Charity shops are good places for thrift shopping or rummaging, and you get great deals.


Every neighbourhood has a charity shop called 慈善超市 (císhàn chāoshì). You’ll notice them by their blue and red signs with “Charity Store” written out. The average charity store sells clothes. Some have oil and grains. But many of these shops, operated by neighbourhood committees, have partnered with a group called Buy 42, making what you can consider a second-generation charity shop with new and never used items from foreign brands for sale. 


Shanghai also has organisations like the long-running expat led A Pleines Mains and local Good Heart that collect, donate, and sell items to fund charity projects.


Buy 42 Bund



This Buy 42 located near People’s Square is top-rated on Dianping. The store is right across the street from the massive bookstore on Fuzhou Road and opened four years ago.


Buy 42 works with local neighbourhood charity shops, turning them into bright, welcoming stores.



This is a charity shop that sells western items, many with European labels, which have been donated by companies and other organisations. The feel is similar to walking into an off-price store like TJ MAXX in the US. There are new household goods, clothing, handmade goods, and second-hand children’s books. 


It’s clean and pretty and has low prices. The ethos of the brand is conveyed in the name Buy 42. When you buy, the benefits are for two people, you the consumer getting something you want, and the second person is the charity’s beneficiaries such as the employees with disabilities, or the craftsmen with disabilities who make the artisan items for sale like honey, tea, and decorations.



This is a great place to shop for household items. Buy 42 People’s Square is currently flush with woven baskets you can use for storing blankets and multi-use ceramic flowerpots. There’s even furniture, air purifiers, suitcases, things for storage and organising. I picked up a three-wick soy candle for 19 RMB. I also spotted a 30 RMB family lunch sack from a European brand. Someone with kids should definitely scoop that one up quick.


Address: 480 Fuzhou Road, Huanpu District

WeChat: shantaowang


Buy 42 Jing’an



Buy 42 has 18 stores in Shanghai. I visited another one on Xinzha Road in Jing’an. This one was smaller but had the same welcoming store layout. The items are again new with tags apart from second-hand books. The friendly shop attendant said some items are from factories in China making Western goods with cosmetic errors or were extra production units.



You can donate directly to the store. New items will be resold in the shop while second-hand items will be donated for you. They are looking for more books in Chinese and English.


This store had more craft material for sales like ribbon, corkboards and some seriously cute baby and toddler clothes like an old Chinese style top and pants set. Additionally, this shop is a great place to buy costumes for both humans and pets. There’s a nigiri sushi outfit for a small dog and a silver hooded cape for a human. I nabbed a black flower vase for 19 RMB.



Address: 1132 Xinzha Road, Jing'an District

WeChat: shantaowang


益心 “Yi Xin” Good Heart



Where Buy 42 is akin to a discount department store, Good Heart is like a garage sale. It’s great for those who love rummaging and antiquing. 


The store operates from individuals donating new items to sell. This range all over the board from handmade items to trinkets, an old guzheng, record player, cell phone cases, bags, earrings and other odds and ends. It’s like a pawn shop, where the sales go to the charity Good Heart. 


The organisation gives proceeds to needy participates, you can sponsor people with the money you earn selling items and with directly donated money.



Good Heart also has a clothing donation arm that individuals can donate used clothes to directly. 


My favourite piece was a carved wooden bear singing and playing the accordion.




Changning District: 900 Tianshan Road, 2/F, Huijin Department Store

Jinqiao, Pudong: 1010 North Zhangyang Road


A Pleines Mains



A Pleines Mains was founded in 1999 by a few French expats. The 50 people strong volunteer-run organisation sells second-hand clothing, household goods, and books in Chinese, English, and French. Proceeds from sales go to fund projects such as providing baby formula to newborns and other organisations like Shanghai Young Bakers. Of all the donations they receive, many books, clothes, school materials, and toys are donated directly to schools and orphanages around China. The rest are sold at APM’s permanent warehouse and sorting facility near Hongqiao Airport. 


The warehouse is open Monday through Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m and some Saturdays. I walked away with a stellar magazine file for the office for 10 RMB.


The warehouse is like Goodwill in the States. The items are second hand. Some are donated from companies like Carrefour. You can donate with them by messaging their WeChat account.  Some clothing items had ripped, but the volunteers do their best to sort those out.



The book library is split into kids, teens, and adults in Chinese, English and French, along with a travel and cooking section, and picture books. Books range from 10 to 30 RMB. APM also sells books at Mandarin Inn and Dragon Space near IAPM Mall, along with baby clothes they host pop-up events at Dragon Space. Follow their WeChat for event schedules. Satellite bookstores are open from 1 to 4 p.m.



Some great items I found were swimming trunks and football cleats for 40 RMB, some little boy bowties and ties. There are baby clothes for 20 RMB and baby winter jackets for 60 RMB.


If you can’t make the journey to the warehouse, you can ask in their WeChat if they have specific items like a stroller in stock, and they can send the item to you. 


Address: 8215, 2/F, Bldg. 8, 59 Xude Road, VEG Hongqiao Creative Park

Phone: 182-1775-0124

WeChat: APMCharity