Shopping in second hand, thrift or op shops (opportunity shops) is becoming more and more popular, and for good reason. Are you a thrift or op shop lover like me? I have grown up wandering through second hand and vintage shops, so for me it is second nature. I remember when my dear darling friend Denice, who has now passed away, discovered them for the first time. I wrote this poem for her when we said goodbye. She was living with breast cancer and on a journey of self discovery. One of the things we explored together was decoupage and this led her to going into an op shop looking for things to upcycle.
This was the beginning of a love affair for her and just part of my love affair with this darling human being. What she told me was how she had thought they were just dusty and musty and for people who couldn’t afford to shop in the stores. What she found was that some of them were in fact dusty and musty, but that this was part of their charm. Others were definitely NOT dusty and musty, and more like an everyday store, but full of history, stories, bargains and treasures. I think the stories and the history is one of the best parts of buying from op shops.
We created many shared stories together and one was how we spent many long lovely days while the kids were at school together, planning our op shop routes. Eventually she was telling ME about a new one she had found, the little off the beaten track ones, with the true essence of a charity shop still at the heart of them. I loved that. I think this is one of the reasons you love thrift and op shops- it is all the stories behind the objects you can find. They have not been mass produced and they all hold a story from their previous owners.
I go through periods of going regularly to look for what is on offer, hoping for that great piece, or heading in when I just need a piece of clothing or something for the house, to staying away as I just get too tempted to bring home more stuff. They are a central part of my shopping and my life.
So, if you have not ever been to one, or even if you are an old hand like me, here are 7 reasons why thrift shopping is good for you.
1) They are COOL
Yep that is right. Once the thing we didn’t speak about, or the domain just for people who couldn’t afford to shop in the “real stores”, all the hipster cool kids are frequenting op shops now and they have become a core part of many people’s shopping routines. Part of the thrill is not knowing what you will find. You may have to visit a few before you find a treasure. Get amongst it!
2) There are bargains to be had
You will save some cash. There is no doubt at all on this one. Although being cool has elevated the prices in some charity stores, they are usually well below that of the new stores. Look for smaller op shops, rather than the chains, who still offer extraordinarily cheap prices in many cases. For example in my local area there is the Animal Welfare League Shop, a couple of Church Op Shops and a lovely little Save The Children outlet.
3) There are often very well made, quality items that last
I have found so many beautiful pieces of furniture, art and collectibles. The thrill of the hunt is what keeps many of us regulars going back, as you never know when today will be the day!
4) You can find stuff to upcycle and create with
All of you Upcyclers out there, these are the forests of the upcycling world, full of an endless supply of things! Look for old glasses to upcycle into candle jars or centrepieces for your table, trays to turn into chalkboards or paint with Chalk Paint for your coffee table display, vintage fabrics and tea towels to turn into cushion covers, daggy ornaments can become masterpieces with a paint job, furniture runs wild in many op shops and can be used as is, or given a new lease of life.
5) You can find designer clothes at a cheap price
I have found so many labels in op shops, especially those situated in the more affluent areas. I have a policy of flicking through racks and not picking up anything with a Target or K Mart label as they are cheap to start with – I look for the designer labels and usually find something every time I go.
6) You are stopping stuff going to landfill
This is just too simple. By buying things that already exist and would have been tossed out you are prolonging their life. Even better, in the true sense of Upcycling, consider what you will do with the item once you no longer have a need for it, so you also don’t end up sending it to landfill.
7) You are supporting good causes in most cases and you can feel good
There is definitely a feel good factor in shopping in an op shop. Most are run by churches, community groups and charities and much of their funds raised goes back to support their cause.
Can’t get a better win win win than that. Great for people, planet and home.
So where are your favourite thrift or op shops?