Saturday, April 21, 2012

How to go Op Shopping - a simple guide to getting bargains!

Silver - $5, Gold (free after spending $20),
Brown (free after spending $20), purple $3
With the world going crazy for everything 'vintage,' it amazes me how many people can't stand the thought of going Op-shopping. Friends of mine who claim to 'only wear vintage clothes' and have a style that only includes 'retro' fashion, often tell me how they never buy anything from Op-shops. What? How can that be vintage then, if you are buying everything from the chain stores and mainstream shops? They aren't really vintage fans, are they?

I asked a friend about their Op-shop avoidance one day, and discovered that the reason she wasn't keen on them was because she could never ever find anything she liked. She claimed to spend hours looking pointlessly and coming home with nothing but a grumpy attitude. I get the feeling that this is not uncommon.

I like to think of myself as a bit of an expert op-shopper, so I decided to make a post on all things Op-shop. I hope this helps for those of you who struggle to find things when you do get around to stopping into an Op-shop for a visit. I have also included photos of some of my favourite Op-shop purchases.

I compiled a list of tips and tricks:

1. Shop in both big and little Op-shops. Big ones usually get donations from shops, so often there is all this new stuff still with the price tag attached! The little ones are just as great though because you can find incredible things hidden away. Smaller ones are often less visited too, thus increasing the chance of finding something special.

L-R: GirlExpress (target) $8, Havianas (new) $2

2. Keep your mind open. Make sure you let yourself imagine and experiment - I have purchased some awesome clothing and jewellery pieces that I never would have considered otherwise. If it is cheap and there is a tiny part of you that likes it, it is probably worth giving it a shot.

3. Don't give up the search just yet. Op-shops are notorious for having junk that you have to sift through. Even if you don't find anything at all in one shop, don't just decide you hate them and are never going to one again. Some days I buy half the shop, others I just think everything is absolutely hideous and belongs at a dump not a shop!

4. Don't settle for super expensive things... Yes it is charity, but no the prices should not reflect what they did in the shop. One time I went to buy a shirt that had an op shop tag of twenty dollars. I pointed out that it still had its original price on it. The original price tag was fifty, but had been reduced down to twenty five, then down to fifteen. The lady at the Op-shop was very apologetic and gave it to me for five! If you think the price is too much (whether it has the original tag or not) then just ask - they would rather get a small donation than nothing.

5. ...although if you do love something and it is a little pricey (and you can't get it any cheaper) just remember it's still cheaper than if it was new. Sometimes it is just the way it is and you can't get that awesome jacket for cheaper than twenty five dollars. Sure, it is a bit expensive for an Op-shop, but ask yourself these questions. 1. Do you love it? 2. How much would it have cost new? 3. Is it worth it?
Scarf: $3, Belts $2 each

6. If it is broken, don't write it off. Particularly for those crafty girls, if something is broken, is missing a button or needs the hem sewn up, don't just dismiss it completely. You can purchase a button or two and sew them on yourself, or superglue that one broken chess piece together. Often you can get a huge discount on things that are broken or damaged too.

7. Keep an eye out for sales. Some Op-shops have particular days where they have sales. Sometimes they have deals (like fill a bag for $5 - best time of my life that was!) or 'anything with a blue spot 50% off.'

8. Make sure you try things on! I have found that often the sizes do not match the clothes (which is why they are in the Op-shop in the first place). Just like in regular shopping, sometimes clothes don't look nice on the hangar but look great on (and vice versa).

9. Check things carefully before buying them. Keep and eye out for any breaks, stains, rips, chips because sometimes people are lazy and use the Op-shop as a rubbish bin.

10. Don't just think about yourself. When looking around keep an eye out for stuff your friends or family might like. Friends have bought me some gorgeous stuff from Op-shops, and I have bought toys and things for family members.

L-R : Finders Keepers $15 (it's sequined!),
Sweetacacia $8, Valleygirl $3
11. Allow yourself lots of time. You don't want to be in a rush when Op-shopping. You won't find anything, I guarantee.

12. Go with friends. That way, even if you don't find anything it's still a lot of fun. Friends also find things you never would have and keep your mind open to new things.

13. Don't go to get a particular thing, you will never find it. Unlike regular shops where you go in the hope of finding a particular things - a summery maxi dress for example, you can't do that with Op-shops. While you are looking for that maxi, you may overlook the gorgeous coat sitting there so cheaply.

14. Last but not least, donate your things too. The only way Op-shops can survive is if other people give back. One man's trash is another man's treasure!

Op shops are good for: photo frames, scarves, jewellery, magazines, cutlery, board games, shirts, jackets/coats, handbags, shoes (although sometimes they are gross)
Don't get - underwear, makeup, dirty/stained clothes, worn down shoes
Hard to find - CDs, DVDs, books

I love op shops because you can get things that aren't 'in fashion' right now and find wonderful unusual and different pieces. I love it even more when it is dirt cheap.


  1. I've always been weary to shop at op shops, but now I might just have a look

  2. I think it is worth a try - I am a big fan!

  3. I've only ever bought one thing from an op shop. It was a $4 dress but it was perfectly new and it was exactly my size.

    1. Op Shops are so much fun! I love findind exciting pieces amongst all the junk, especially as it is so cheap!


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