Beginner’s guide to op-shopping

As many of our readers have mentioned in comments on my previous Style Watch articles, op-shops are a wonderful alternative to chain stores, and after the weekend I tend to agree. On Saturday night I found myself in a situation not uncommon to many women. Not only was one of my friends wearing the same Zara skirt as me, but another girl had on the same statement necklace I had chosen to wear. I was not a happy camper. I know some people like to fit in, but not me, I want to stand out.

Which leads me to why you would op-shop. Not only will it ensure you do not end up accidentally ‘twin-styling’ with a stranger (I’m still scarred from my mother’s matching outfits for my sister and I growing up), but it is also a way to kill two birds with one stone and help out those in need while shopping.

Below is a beginner’s guide to op-shopping, as I would by no means consider myself an expert in the field.

  1. Op-shop merchandise comes from two sources; second hand donations from the public and overstock, obsolete and faulty items from commercial stores.
  2. While some of the profits go back into maintaining the op-shops themselves, the majority of the proceeds are used for charitable purposes.
  3. It’s always a good idea to do your research beforehand on the op-shop(s) you intend to visit. Find an op-shop near you.
  4. Like other shops, many op-shops receive their stock deliveries on specific days each week. Call the op-shop(s) you want to visit and find which day this is for them as with op-shopping it’s literally first in, best dressed.
  5. It’s a good idea to go through your wardrobe and work out what pieces you actually need and make a list of what you’re looking for so you have some direction when you get there.
  6. Not all op-shops will have eftpos facilities so it’s a good idea to have enough cash so that you’re not caught short at the register.
  7. Once you arrive at the shop, make sure you have a thorough look through each section. Keep in mind what you are looking for but be prepared for the fact that some items will jump out at you and are worth considering too.
  8. For clothing and shoes always check the size, material and deterioration. Minor faults can be overlooked but major stains, discolouration, fraying seams, tears and smells cannot. Likewise a size or two out is probably fine but if it requires major alterations it’s probably not worth your time.
  9. Assess the items in terms of longevity, usefulness and care. Can you maintain what you are buying? Make sure you check the care tag if there is one attached.
  10. Don’t buy something just because it is cheap. There is no point saving clothing from landfill only to turn your house into an episode of Hoarders.

Next Style Watch I will be reporting back on how I go trying my luck at some op-shops to see what I can unearth.  Are you a veteran op-shopper with tips for SJ?