WHAT if you could buy good quality furniture at a cut price? Thanks to the rise of charity furniture stores and the vintage boom, second hand is an increasingly viable option.

The British Heart Foundation opened its first furniture and electrical store in 2001 in Sittingbourne and now has 165 (and counting) nationwide, including Bromley, Lewisham, Sidcup, Woolwich and Gravesend.

Area manager Monika Michalczuk said the stores are a ‘like a treasure trove that changes every day’, with bargain sofas from £85, beds from £40 and washing machines from £50.

The BHF ensures all items are saleable and checked for fire labels while staff and volunteers always give items a spruce before they go on sale.

Monika said: “We get fantastic items brought in all the time, from snooker tables to grand pianos to antique dressers. You never know what’s going to come in from one day to the next so there are always interesting products available.

She added: “We have a range of items for sale from tables, beds, sofas and cabinets to washing machines and TVs – all at great prices.

“There really is something for everyone in our stores, from shabby chic, modern, vintage and brand new items. Our stores also encourage recycling and reuse and they’re great for finding items to upcycle.”

At Give2Give Charity Furniture Store in Petts Wood, people often buy the necessary items to set themselves up in a new home.

Store manager Amos Grunfeld said: “A lot of people come in and they won’t furnish a whole house but they come in and buy a set of stuff like a wardrobe and a bed and things they need first of all.

Unsurprisingly, both Amos and Monika put the appeal of the charity furniture store down to the tough economic times.

Amos said: “It’s just people haven’t got as much money any more, I guess that’s the appeal. They want to get something that’s cheaper than new.

“We’re always open to negotiation. A lot of our customers are people who come in regularly so we can do deals. Sometimes if an item has been here for a little while we can take money off too.”

As much as a place to bag a bargain – and the obvious benefit of giving to charity - the stores also appeal to people wanting to get rid of their unwanted furniture.

Monika said: “Often the council charge to pick up unwanted items but our collection service is free and comes straight to your front door.”

Amos added: “We get more people donate than people coming into the shop. We usually get booked up for collections three days ahead.”

Go to bhf.org.uk or g2g.org.uk