Do you ever visit your local Op Shop? Buying from second-hand stores has many benefits, aside from the obvious – bargain shopping. Here are 10 reasons why I love to Op Shop!
Are you an Op Shop regular or is it something you’ve done once or twice in your lifetime? Do you hate the idea? An Op Shop (or Opportunity Shop) is a store where people have donated goods, either new or used, so they can be re-sold to raise funds for a particular charity. Sometimes they may be called a thrift shop or a second-hand store. There are also many Aussies who refer to any Op Shop as a ‘Vinnies’, even if it is a different type of Op Shop, as the St Vincent De Paul Op Shops (‘Vinnies’ for short) are in many locations across the country and very well known.
Some of the other major Op Shops in Australia are Save the Children, Salvos (Salvation Army), Red Cross and Anglicare. They are in many various locations, but be aware – location matters! My friends and I have found that the prices on items in Op Shops can vary a LOT depending on the location of the store. For example, basic clothing items in an Op Shop in certain Sydney inner city or northern Sydney suburbs can cost $20-$30, whereas similar items in an Op Shop in Western Sydney can be priced at $1 – $2.
10 Reasons I love to Op Shop:
ONE – Bargains!
Who doesn’t love to score a bargain? Op Shops don’t always have only second-hand items. I have found many brand new items, tag still attached, in Op Shops.
Some of my best finds have been:
- David Jones woolen jumper (brand new) – $11
- K mart full-length floral dress (brand new) – $5
- Cooper St (Myer brand) dress (brand new) – $8
- Adidas soccer boots for Andy (excellent used condition) – $10
- This one beats them all.. Wait for it.. a Louis Vuitton cashmere & silk scarf – $3!! (Yes, $3 – I then did an online search as to how much this scarf was worth, found it was being sold online for $575, so I sold it on Facebook Marketplace for $420!)
Even if most of the items are used (and you will have to rummage through some crappy items), if you’re willing to get in there and rummage, it is SO worth it!
It might be clothes for your kids for the next summer or winter season, it might be essentials you didn’t know you needed, such as pants, dresses, shoes or jackets, but the best thing is just to go in there with an open mind, and a bit of cash in your wallet. It might save you heaps of money in the long run as you’re not buying brand new. You can then put the money you’re saving into building up your Emergency Fund or paying other bills.
TWO – Repurposing Items
When you buy from an Op Shop, you’re living more sustainably! Buying these items saves them from going into landfill, recycles them and prevents you from spending your money on fast fashion that may not last. This works the other way too – if you no longer need certain clothing items at home, if you’re not going to sell them online to make a bit of extra cash (I have HEAPS of tips HERE on how to do that successfully), then donating them to an Op Shop is a great way to recycle them and prevent them going into the garbage.
THREE – Buy and Flip
As I described in my example above with the Louis Vuitton scarf – bought for $3, sold for $420, there are many items you can actually re-sell if you’re aware of the value. This may not be realistic with most of the items you may find but there are definitely opportunities out there for those who have an eye for the possible resale value.
There are some people out there making decent cash from doing this on a regular basis so if you’re willing to put the time and effort into rummaging, researching the value of items, listing and selling, it can be quite lucrative, but be aware, this will probably not be something that is easy to do, rather a possibility IF you happen to stumble across some valuable items with a low price tag.
FOUR – Supporting a charity
Shopping at a thrift shop directly supports that charity – the funds raised from the sale of clothes and other goods go towards helping those people in need – individuals who may be homeless, in severe financial distress, or those escaping abusive homes.
Rather than donating money directly, you can easily support these charities in a meaningful way by shopping at these stores. The more sales for the store, the more money raised.
FIVE – Fashion Inspiration
Unlike going into a retail store where they have the latest season pieces or the latest trends on display, an Op Shop can stock vintage pieces, last season’s trends or trends from decades ago! This can mean inspiration for different fashion ideas and an opportunity to mix things up! Where else can you walk in and find fashion inspiration from last season, as well as from last decade?
Experiment, try different combinations and get your rummage on! You never know what you might find!
SIX – Satisfying Shopping Experience
Have you ever gone shopping with a particular mission? For example, I need to find a dress for this party tonight, only to find you walk in and out of 10 different retail stores without success?
When you go Op shopping, my advice is, lower the expectations.. don’t walk in expecting to have success in finding something in particular. Rather, walk in with an open mind and no expectations and you might find yourself walking out with bags of items, or just one or two items, or maybe nothing.
Op shops are hit and miss, but when you do find some things you like, it can be so satisfying! I like to go to a location where I know there are several different stores so if one store has nothing I like, I can try 3 others. Do your research before you leave home so you know where to find several stores close to each other, for a higher chance of a successful shopping experience.
SEVEN – More variety in one place
Where else can you find so much variety in one store? Vintage pieces, latest trends, last season trends, kids’ clothes and shoes, games, books and jewellery, bags, hats and accessories. Lightly used items, new items and of course the plain ugly!
This makes rummaging fun! You honestly never know what you will find and there’s definitely something fun about that.
EIGHT – Encourages creativity
Try a vintage jacket with a pink scarf and some white boots! How about some ripped jeans with an oversized yellow knit jumper, some glitter heels and some chunky earrings and necklace? There’s no place like an Op Shop to get so creative and try different looks! You also don’t have to spend a lot of money to do it. Even if some pieces don’t go together, there will surely be something you can team with your existing wardrobe at home.
The idea is, you won’t find this much variety and opportunity to express your creativity through your wardrobe, like in an Op Shop.
NINE – Great date idea or fun outing with friends!
I have had some of the most fun days out with friends on an Op Shop crawl.
(Hot tip – Penrith, in Sydney’s west has at least 6 Op Shops, all in close proximity, with great prices!)
We pre-planned our trip, had open minds and were fully prepared for the rummaging, and had so much fun together, searching, trying pieces on, getting matching T-shirts and trying to find the ugliest pieces we could, to laugh at and try on!
It could also be a fun date idea with plenty of opportunity for conversation starters, especially if you compete to find bargains, ugly pieces or best brands!
TEN – Take the Kids!
Op Shopping can be an awesome learning opportunity for kids! It can teach kids:
- The value of recycling clothes and repurposing items, saving them from landfill
- Money lessons – looking at the value of items, saving money by buying second hand, and comparing cost vs value. Kids can also add up how much is being spent and how much is being saved, compared to buying the same items brand new.
- Encourages kids to think creatively too, when it comes to fashion ideas and outfits
- The importance of supporting a charity to help those in need
- An opportunity for kids to spend their pocket money on books, DVDs, games or other items, without spending too much! Or, you could give the kids a budget for the day and tell them they can spend $20 however they choose – they get to pick the items.
Op Shopping has many benefits, maybe some I’ve mentioned here that you hadn’t thought of but I hope this has helped inspire you to plan your next Op shopping trip!
Do you love Op shopping or hate it? When was the last time you scored a bargain at an Op Shop or a rare vintage piece? Can you beat my Louis Vuitton scarf flip??
Let me know in the comments, I would love to hear about it!
You can read my Single Mum’s Money Journey HERE.