Shopping Why You Should Be Op-Shopping

Australians love to shop, but we don’t always hang on to the things we buy. According to the National Association of Charitable Recycling Organisations (NACRO), roughly 2 billion items each year are donated to op shops across the country.

Although not all of these items end up on the shelves, that does leave plenty of opportunity to land an op shop bargain—if you know how to shop successfully.

Why Op Shop?

Op shop is short for ‘opportunity shop,’ a place that sells pre-owned clothes, furniture, music, books, dishes—the list is endless, and so are the opportunities.

For some people, buying someone else’s castoffs is an uncomfortable feeling. Why do that when you could buy something new?

There are plenty of reasons to op shop; here are just a few.

Sustainable Fashion

According to ABC reports, Australians are the second-highest consumers of textiles in the world. In the era of ‘fast fashion,’ clothes are frequently worn once and discarded; often it is cheaper to buy a new item than replace a damaged one.

By shopping at an op shop, you’re giving new life to an old piece, and helping the environment to boot.

Giving Back

An op shop isn’t just a place for donating goods you no longer use and finding a bargain; these stores are actually raising money for a good cause.

High quality donated items are often given to families in need at no cost, while the proceeds from what is sold goes towards charities and community programs.

Score a bargain

Op shops are loaded with barely worn or new items at a dramatically reduced price. The next time you’re on the hunt for a piece of furniture or even a designer handbag, the op shop might be your first destination.

Find a diamond in the rough

Antique hunters love scouring through op shops to find hidden treasure. Though it can be like searching for a needle in a haystack, it is possible to uncover something worth selling, giving literal meaning to ‘one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.’

Decorating inspiration

Looking for interior decorating inspiration? Head to the op shop. Since they sell such a wide range of products, from crockery to sheet music, you never know what you might find that will look great on your shelves.


Op Shop Like a Boss

So you think you’re ready to op shop? Read these tips before you step through the door to get the most out of your experience.

1. Dress for Success

This is one place where you do want to try before you buy. Wear shoes that are easy to slip off, and clothes that layer well. Op shops may not have designated dressing rooms so you may need to do your trying on on the shop floor!

2. Use Your Eagle Eye

No matter what you’re shopping for—be it a new pair of shoes or an antique phonograph—give the object a careful once-over before you rush to the register.

There could be a loose seam, stain, paint chip, or missing piece that makes you think twice. And if you are buying shoes, make sure they’re both the same size!

3. Think Outside the Box

If you do discover damage to an item you’ve got your eye on, ask yourself if it can be repaired before you discard it. Often, all it takes is a good tailor or a bit of glue to patch something up.

4. Trust Your Instincts

Avoid buyer’s remorse by being true to your tastes, and don’t force a purchase if it’s not happening. It might be tempting to snap up that pair of unworn Jimmy Choos, but if they’re two sizes too small it might be best to leave them on the shelf.

5. Take Your Time

Op Shops aren’t like regular chain stores or high fashion boutiques. It takes time and patience to sift through all of the items, so don’t rush it. Do a quick lap of the store and you’re likely to miss most of the stock.

6. Come Back for More

With the unrelenting torrent of donations, op shop employees are constantly sorting through new stock. You could return to find that the shelves are full of things that weren’t there the week before.

7. Shop Mid-Week

Op shops often get a large amount of donations over the weekend, but it takes time to go through them all. It may be Tuesday or Wednesday by the time that new stock is hung on the racks, so get in early for the first look.


Donating to an Op Shop

Have a few things you’d like to donate to an op shop? Great! Before you donate, make sure that you’re up to speed on what can and cannot be donated to the shop.

Sadly, op shops are often treated as dumping grounds for people’s unwanted items. It costs charities time and money to sort through items and discard things that should have gone directly to the bin.

If you’d be embarrassed to pass it on to a friend or family member, don’t give it to an op shop. Check the shop’s website for instructions on donations, as there may be special considerations for certain items.

Op shops generally accept donations in three ways:

  • Donation bins
  • Drop-offs at the shop
  • Home collection
Do… Don’t…
Wash all clothes and bedding before donating Donate worn, stained, or torn clothing
Donate electrical items in good working order Donate broken electrical items
Donate during a shop’s designated donation hours Leave donations in plastic bags at the shop’s back door
Organise pick up for large or heavy items, such as furniture Dump an old lounge in front of the store
Donate items that you would be happy to donate to a friend. Donate items that are better off in the bin.

Op Shops in Australia

Op shops don’t just accept and sell donations; they’re a vital part of the community. Charities in Australia redistribute clothing and goods to people in need, whether that’s due to finances or a natural disaster.

Op shops raise money for community initiatives, and provide work and volunteer opportunities for Australians. They also give people an opportunity to save money and prevent clothes from heading to landfill.

NACRO reports that there are over 3000 op shops across Australia. Here are some of the most well-known organisations and what they stand for:

  • St Vincent de Paul Society (Vinnies): Works to combat the effects of poverty and inequality.
  • Red Cross Australia: Supports people and communities during vulnerable times. Salvation Army (Salvos): Christian organisation that aims to give hope to people who are suffering.
  • Mission Australia: Christian charity working to reduce homelessness and strengthen communities.
  • Lifeline: Provides crisis support and suicide prevention services to Australians.

Looking for an op shop near you? Here are two websites that can help you get started.

  • Free listing for shops. Search by location or organisation.
  • Never Ever Pay Retail: Op shop-focused blog with an op shop finder.





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