How to score an op shop gem

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If you enjoy bargain hunting, then you likely frequent your local op shops and second-hand stores. ‘Thrifting’, or buying second-hand items and flipping them for a profit, has increased in popularity in recent years. But there’s still a large divide between people who like the idea of browsing shelves to make a buck or two, and those who actually know where the real money lies. These tips can help to point you in the right direction.

Avoid ‘thrift’ stores
In America the term ‘thrift shop’ is often used to describe what we’d call an opportunity shop. Op shops are filled with donated items and often generate income for a charity organisation. In Australia, thrift shops are generally curated second-hand stores.

If you’re looking for antiques or something to complete a personal collection, thrift stores may be a good place to look. However, the price tags are generally heftier as items are sourced by people who trade in second-hand items and know their worth. While this can be convenient for anyone looking to add to their own collection, while having someone else do most of the leg work, it’s not the most financially savvy option.

Know your stuff
In order to separate yourself from the flocks of hipsters gawking at faded ironic T-shirts, you’ll have to do some reading. Knowing what – in theory – can make you a buck or two is different from identifying the real thing. Being able to identify real silver, leather, crystal and authentic vintage cookware could make all the difference.

Vintage globes
A globe captures a moment in time. It’s a snapshot of how things once were. There’s an understandable appeal to seeing names like Constantinople and Persia printed on a world globe, and they can fetch a decent price, too.

Board games
Now, when I say board games, I don’t mean monopoly. I mean the good old vintage stuff. There’s a market for TV and pop culture themed board games among old fans. Be sure to check for missing pieces or damaged boards. Visit Board Game Geek to see what games might be worth a pretty penny.

Pyrex sets
A matching vintage set of Pyrex bowls or cookware can easily be flipped for a profit. When people downsize or clean out a relative’s home, they frequently overlook the value of these sets. To learn more about identifying vintage Pyrex, visit Pyrex Love.

Many hours in my childhood were spent following my father around second-hand book stores, so I’ve always enjoyed them. But it wasn’t until I realised there’s money to be made that my ears really pricked up – now we’re talking!

There are four main things to look for. Hard covers, signed copies, rarities and first editions. If you don’t know a whole lot about the literary world, try and research just one or two authors to learn what books or editions are rare. Keep these titles locked away for the next time you browse the shelves of an op shop or second-hand book store.

Waterford crystal
Since the 1700s, Waterford crystal glasses have had a place in all fancy dining settings. They’re fragile, so finding one in good condition at an op shop is rare. If you recognise an authentic Waterford crystal glass, grab it (gently) before someone else does!

Other great finds to keep an eye out for include vintage cameras, designer clothes, record players, high quality picture frames, fine china and vintage typewriters. Take good quality photos of the items before listing them on sites such as eBay, Gumtree or Facebook Marketplace. Research each item to gauge its resale value.

Do you enjoy op shopping? What’s the best item you’ve found in a second-hand store? Do you have any tips to share with other readers?

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Written by Liv Gardiner


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