How to Shop…Op in Perth!



Photo Credit: Kelly Wayne, You Got That At An Op Shop?!


This is the first installment of a two part series about Op Shops in Perth by Kelly Wayne from You Got That At An Op Shop?!

Op shopping in Perth and across Australia is having an amazing resurgence of late.  Why, just recently the winner of the Fashions on the Field at the 2012 Melbourne Cup was wearing an op shopped number!  And who hasn’t found themselves humming Macklemore’s latest tune, “Thrift Shop” at some stage? It seems second hand shopping is no longer just for those in need of cheap, affordable clothing & furniture and it’s no longer something to be embarrassed about.  And being an avid op shopper in Perth, I’m here to tell you why.

Today we’re all about quick fixes, upgrades, new versions, current trends and, in order to keep up with the “latest”, a lot of yesterday’s stuff gets thrown on the rubbish heap.  However we’re starting to get serious about the impact this has on the environment, our hip pocket and thanks to some great marketing and presence in the media by many charities, an awareness of why op shops exist in the first place; and that is to raise money for a good cause.

Op shops aren’t the musty places of old - they’re bright, they’re inviting, they’re cheap and they’re stacked with goodies.  Furniture, clothing, bric-a-brac, shoes, electricals, jewellery, and collectables – it’s all there.  And they’re all there in one place.

And who doesn’t want to grab themselves a bargain?  I know that if I can pay $3 for a pair of Karen Millen skinny jeans at my local oppie over paying $150 for a new pair, then it’s a no brainer for me.

But op shops can also be a little daunting for those who are new to the “craft”.  Where do you start?  What do you look for?  How will you know you’re getting a bargain?  Whilst each op shopper will have his or her own style of shopping, there are a few key rules I would suggest you bear in mind when you start your own thrifting adventures.

1.    Accept What Is There, For What It Is

Remember second hand goodies are not necessarily going to be perfect – they’ve been loved before!  Try and see past the patina and look at the item for how it will make a difference in your life.

2.    Wash, Wipe & Clean

In keeping with rule no 1, I always recommend giving any new purchase a little clean before use.  Unfortunately most op shops do not have the time, staff or money to do this for us.  Not to mention the fact that big-hearted donators themselves don’t always clean what they’re donating, before popping them in charity bins.

3.    Be Nice

A large percent of op shop staff are volunteers.  That means people volunteering their own time to help out a cause close to their heart. Be a nice customer, because they deserve it.

4.    Check!

There are a few basic things you should check when purchasing items from an op shop (or any shop for that matter!).   For clothes do a check over for stains, tears, broken zips and missing buttons.  For shoes be sure to check the general condition of the shoe, including the heel – if it’s worn, is it going to be worth replacing?  For linen and haberdashery check again for holes or tears, staining and smell.  Check if toys have any missing “bits” and that glassware or china doesn’t have any chips/cracks that will prevent you from using them.



Photo Credit: Kelly Wayne, You Got That At An Op Shop?!

5.    Roll Up Your Sleeves

One aspect of op shopping is that we thrifters love getting stuck into it.  Racks of clothes aren’t necessarily neatly laid out like your local department store and bric-a-brac can be piled high, so rolling up your sleeves and scouring rack by rack or shelf by shelf is a must. Don’t be afraid of making a bit of noise while you’re at it!

6.    Discount Discretion

Remember what the op shop is there for… to raise funds for the support & services their charity provide to the community.  I personally don’t recommend asking for a discount as I feel you’re already getting that item at a bargain price.  Some op shops also have a “don’t ask for discounts” sign to let you know they can’t accommodate your request. But I’ll leave this one to you.

7.    Experiment

Op shops hold a huge amount of clothes, shoes, linen, crockery etc – so try something different.  Are you interested in vintage?  Then buy a piece from an oppie and see if you like wearing it enough to buy more.  Sick of your old dinner set?  Pick out a new one at an oppie for half the price!  Buy an old couch and re-upholster it yourself.  Visit different op shops too and have fun with op shop goodies, that’s what they’re there for.

8.    Bring Your Own Bags

In keeping with global care, think about taking your own bags when op shopping. Many stores don’t provide them anymore, so why not just recycle some of your old grey plastic bags instead?  Or better yet, donate any excess to your local op shop to re-use.  The Salvos however have gone one step further and created their own green bags for your use  – at only $1!

9.    Store Minimums

Just a general housekeeping one here, while most op shops have eftpos and credit card facilities these days, some may have a $10 eftpos minimum.  And you will also come across the odd little op shop that doesn’t have it at all, so be sure you have cash with you just in case.

10.    Don’t Buy Furniture Unprepared

Cheap furniture is one of the highlights of many op shops, but you do need to be aware of their conditions when buying.  Check the store’s hold and delivery times and remember that some stores may have a policy stating they cannot help you move the furniture themselves, so have some backup manpower just in case.

Op shopping truly is fun, and with a little know-how you can pick yourself up some amazing bargains, whilst supporting some important charitable organisations.  But now that you have the tools, where do you start?  Stay tuned for part two of the Op Shops in Perth series where I’ll point you in the direction of some of Perth’s top op shop spots!

Kelly Wayne blogs for You Got That At An Op Shop?!, a blog dedicated to sharing all things op shop in Perth, Western Australia.  Visit for all your op shop news, reviews and competitions.

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