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SECONDHAND SEPTEMBER: Saving on school uniforms

SECONDHAND SEPTEMBER: Saving on school uniforms

Friday 01 September 2023

SECONDHAND SEPTEMBER: Saving on school uniforms

Friday 01 September 2023

A Guernsey business has helped raise more than £500 for a school PTFA this year by selling second hand uniforms for just £1 an item.

Smilers, on Rue des Goddards at Vazon has been stocking a variety of items - mainly branded for Castel Primary - since March.

The idea came from a conversation that Smilers' owner had with a regular customer whose granddaughter goes to the school.

Caroline La Touche said the stock comes from the school directly or donations from parents, and they sell everything on for £1. They only accept cash or cheques as the money is given straight to the school PTFA. 

"I first put it on to our Facebook page, and we didn't know how it was going to go. Then people started coming in and it's done really well. They're dropping in all the time and it's got to be well over £500 now and that all goes to the school and the kids.

"People can just come in, find their sizes. It's got to be cash or cheque made out to the school. So we're doing it all for nothing. We're the ones that look after it and put it out there and top it up and hang it up," she said.

Caroline la touche smilers

Pictured: Caroline La Touche, owner of Smilers.

While it helps to get customers through the door, Mrs La Touche said she is happy to help the school and local community by allowing the use of some shop space and by donating her time.  

While this is specifically an initiative for the Castel Primary School PTFA, some of the uniform is unbranded and can be bought for pupils at other schools. Mrs La Touche said the grey skirts, shorts and trousers, and unbranded blue cardigans and jumpers, and yellow polo shirts can all be used at other schools while PE kit, socks and other items are also useful elsewhere.

Mrs La Touche said there is nothing to stop shops elsewhere in the island also selling second hand uniform for schools in their area. 

"You have to put yourself out," she said. "They wanted to come and do it and I said, 'that's silly, we're here, we need to keep it tidy but we can help'. Obviously, if we're busy we can't help but yes, most of the time we can help."

She said it can also be good for business in other ways, even if the school uniform money is all donated.

"(Customers) may pick up other bits but we don't do children's clothes anymore. When places like George came over we stopped doing school and kids clothing but now they've gone. That's why I always say you should look after local businesses because when we've lost something, you won't get it back."

Secondhand September

The start of the new school term also coincides with the start of 'Secondhand September' - an initiative believed to have been started by Oxfam in 2019.


As well as being kinder on the pocket, Secondhand September is aimed at helping to fight the climate crisis by reducing the world's dependence on fabric production by encouraging us to reduce, reuse and recycle clothes and other textiles.

Mrs La Touche said some of the items they sell for Castel Primary at just £1 each appear to be brand new so it is a sign of reusing and recycling as well as reducing the costs for parents. 

"(Some of the uniform) are really good. And everything is a pound. I always tell customers that if something's not there, tell us, because we'll look through the sizes and just check because we can't put it all out.

"My eldest now is 35 and my youngest is going to be 27. So you can imagine, there was four of them to kit them all out, and we didn't have much money. I look back at it now, and I think 'how did I manage to clothe all four children with school uniform and shoes?'"

While Mrs La Touche is using her business to help the PTFA with sales of the Castel Primary school uniform, at least two local charity shops are also offering secondhand uniform at low prices or even for free.

Health Connections, at the top of Market Steps, has encouraged its customers to "be gentle with yourselves" during the back to school rush.

To try and ease the pressure on anyone experiencing money worries, the charity has uniforms and back to school equipment available for free. They can help with sifting through the clothes to see what might be there for the different schools across the island. 

You can call the Health Connectors on 227470 for one-to-one support or email for any other enquiries.

Les Bourgs Hospice shop on La Brigade Road also has a variety of uniforms, school shoes and PE kit for sale. 

The charity has a separate children's shop in the same location as its main shop near the Dairy. 


Applications open for school uniform grants

New uniforms herald change at Elizabeth College

Vauvert pupils honour former classmate with PPBF Fundraiser

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