How to Op Shop

13 May

People always say to me “How do you always find such great stuff in op shops? Whenever I look there is only junk.”  I’ve taken people op shopping with me and still they can’t find anything only to have me reach over their shoulder and pick out the perfect item that was seemingly invisible to them. Op shopping is a whole different skill set to retail shopping, where everything is meticulously merchandised and advertised within an inch of its life. I love the challenge and the thrill of the unknown. You just never know what you might come home with.

  • You might set out to find a picture frame but return home with a gladiator costume instead. Don’t laugh its happened to me! The point is shop with an open mind, look at everything and its possibilities.
  • Scan the racks. Look for the colours that are great on you, the quality fabrics and the brands.  
  •  Know your sizes and everyone else’s. I often find a fantastic item and start thinking who will this fit/suit? Memorize sizes in centimetres, inches, brands and international sizing.
  • Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty. I’ve picked through a massive box of toys to assemble a huge collection of Star Wars Lego pieces.  
  • If you find the perfect pair of black work pants but they are looking a little faded, just dye them again. Don’t discard items on first glance, think about how they could be improved or customised. 
  • Germ-a-phobic? Get over yourself. Give it a good wash and you’re good to go.
  • Don’t haggle the price. Most op shops have a set pricing system or a “if its not marked, its not for sale” policy. 
  • Op shops have a long history of being run by little old ladies and as such run on old fashioned principles so mind your manners. Engage the staff and its like a secret door opens just for you 😉
  • Carry cash. Although many stores now have eftpos facilities, sometimes the volunteer staff are not sure how to operate it. Trekking out to find an ATM is not fun.
  • Be PC and bring your own shopping bag. I don’t go anywhere without my Envirosax http://www.envirosax.com.au/

So what the best buys?

Denim jeans – priced between $4-$10 a pair. I often see high end brands retailing in the $150+ market for next to nix.

Shoes – another area where you can really save and as an added bonus, some else has done all the hard work for you & worn them in. $200 Nikes for $3? Yes please.  

Books & CDs – You can buy paperbacks from $1 and hardcovers for as little as $3. Cds are worth scanning through too, especially if you dig retro. There is usually a box of vinyl too. Going price? $1 a record.

Fancy Dress – most people usually go to their local St Vinnies in search of something to wear to that 80’s party next week. On the designated rack you will find discarded dancing costumes, beautiful Indian saris, vintage clothing and enough superhero suits and fairy wings to placate the kids while you scout the rest of the shop.

Speaking of kids…. I can’t stress enough how invaluable second hand shopping can be when you have a tribe of youngsters growing at the speed of light.

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3 Responses to “How to Op Shop”

  1. Chards May 14, 2011 at 11:57 am #

    Great post Bec, will have to go on a op-shop expedition, the Scottish blood in me can’t resist a bargain : )

  2. ShellBell May 14, 2011 at 3:00 pm #

    Best days of my life Op Shopping with you!

  3. The Beauty Philosopher May 29, 2011 at 7:03 pm #

    I love op shopping too. Some of the best things I’ve ever found were: an assortment of vintage beaded evening purses and clutches, beautiful glassware and china, a hand-carved timber framed wall mirror painted white, a white vintage dresser, many books, including a 1920s American Year Book (I love vintage books)…

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