Shopping at op-shops is an excellent way to save some money, but it’s also excellent for the planet as it gives clothes, books, furniture, homewares and a whole host of items a new lease on life and keeps them out of landfill. I’ve been a big fan of op-shopping since I was a teenager, so I’ve learnt a lot along the way about how to get the most out of your op-shopping trips, so here are my top 7 tips for successful op-shopping!
1. Patience is key
Whilst sometimes you can get lucky and find something amazing the second you walk into an op-shop, that’s definitely not always the case! Give yourself time to search properly through the racks, dig through baskets and forage around bookcases and you’re much more likely to find yourself some gold. Lots of op-shops are a little shambolic (which is part of their charm!) so the more time and patience you have the more likely you are to find items that will surprise and delight you.
2. Think outside the season
Lots of people do their wardrobe cleanout at the end of the season, so you’re likely to find amazing winter goodies in spring, and summer clothes in autumn, but don’t let that put you off! If you see a great winter coat don’t dismiss it just because it’s 35 degrees outside, because by the time the weather cools down again it will be long gone, and any winter goodies they have in stock are likely to be a bit more expensive.
3. Visit regularly
By their very nature, stock at op-shops is always going to be changing so in order to really pick up some bargains it’s best to visit as regularly as you can. Once you’ve been going to the same op-shops for a while you might even be able to get an in with the volunteers that work there and they might even point you towards the new stock if you’re nice to them!
Going regularly to a few op-shops will also help you work out which ones are likely to have the best of different items – one might have excellent furniture but not so good clothes or kitchenware, whilst another might be a goldmine for books. The more you visit the more you learn!
4. Re-imagine items
The secret to successful op-shopping is being able to re-imagine items you find, rather than relying on stumbling across the perfect thing right away. This might mean sanding back and repainting furniture, making new cushion covers for a couch or altering clothes. It’s important to look for quality fabrics, classic cuts and well made items, because buying items just because they are cheap isn’t worth it in the long-run if the quality isn’t there.
Also, buying items with the intention of making them over in some way is only ever worth it if you have the times, skills, inclination and necessary equipment to actually make it happen, otherwise you’re just wasting your money (even at $10 a pop it adds up!) and bringing in unnecessary clutter to your home, so always think it over and be realistic!
5. Shop the whole store
You never know what you’re going to find in an op-shop, so it’s best not to limit yourself to a particular size or gender section of the store, and instead shop all over. You might have gone in looking for a dress but find an amazing set of bowls in the kitchen section which you otherwise would have missed if you hadn’t looked around further. You can also often find ladies clothes mixed in the men’s section (and even the kids section) by mistake, so broaden your search and you never know what you might find. If the clothes haven’t been sorted properly then you’re even more likely to find a bargain by searching in other sections!
6. Time and location count
Most op-shops get lots of donations on weekends, but the stores are also at their busiest then so the volunteers often don’t get a chance to sort through them until during the week, so popping in mid-week is your best bet to get first look at the new stock.
In terms of location, it’s often said that more well-to-do suburbs have better op-shops, but they are also often heavily picked over as well, so whilst they’re definitely worth a visit they might not be the hidden secret they used to be! I’ve often found country op-shops can be pretty amazing, so it’s worth setting some time aside for a little weekend road trip if you can! As I mentioned earlier, even within a small area different op-shops can have very different stock, so it’s worth exploring all the options around you, particularly as it’s a lot less effort to be able to stop in regularly!
7. Have fun!
The main thing is really to go in there and have fun! You never know what you’re going to find, but that’s part of the fun of it! If you go in with an open mind, a sense of adventure and a little time up your sleeve then op-shopping can be a whole lot of fun, as well as an excellent way to get some new additions to your home and wardrobe!