In my never ending search to save money, I’ve often turned to op shops for cheap clothing (thrift stores for the American readers). A lot of people have different opinions about op shops, but in my experience they’ve been nothing but a blessing on a number of occasions. In fact some of my favorite ‘retro’ style pieces were purchased from Op Shops! What I’ve also found is that the experience you have depends largely on the quality of the store itself. There are some that are dark, dim, and dirty, and others that are well maintained, well lit, and much more pleasing to shop at.
There are actually a lot of reasons people shop at op shops besides the obvious price benefits. Sometimes hobbyists and collectors can find useful or valuable items, some entrepreneurial types browse through looking for stuff they can resell, and even school kids drop by for retro or vintage looking clothing. If you’ve been thinking about using an op shop for clothing but feel like you’re “above it” somehow, know that there’s nothing wrong with buying secondhand goods, and often you can find some incredible deals and things that you would have never thought of.
Pros of using op shops:
- Cheaper prices
- Interesting variety
- Convenient (usually located in busy areas)
- Possibility of picking up designer items for bargain bin prices
Cons of using op shops
- Possible decrease in quality
- Some things may be broken or ripped, which you don’t notice until you get home
- No returns
- Variable (you’re never sure what you’ll find)
When you look at it in a list like that, the pros and cons seem to be pretty balanced out, but in my opinion the cheaper prices far outweigh anything else, especially since most of the quality is still absolutely fantastic. Most op shops will sort through their donations before putting things out on the shelves to weed out the dirty, broken, or ripped items.
In general, as long as you know how to use op shops you’ll find that they make excellent choices for shopping. Here are a few tips for using op shops safely.
First of all, visit a few different stores. As I mentioned above, they tend to be located in busy areas and shopping centres, so you can usually find at least 2 or 3 close together. Visit a couple in one day and figure out which ones appear clean and offer quality clothing. Every store is going to have a different stock, even if it’s a chain branch, so it’s a bit like a treasure hunt in a way – you may chance upon a lucky find, or you may not find anything.
Second of all, look for specials to save even more money. These tend to cycle, so figure out what they are and take advantage of them. For example, one store may offer 50% off a certain type of clothing one day a week, and another might offer 75% clothing with a certain coloured tag, etc. When you go in, you can just ask what’s on sale that day.
Finally, be friendly to the staff. You might be able to guess that op shop employees aren’t paid very well, and some people are volunteers. These people usually work for some other type of organization, which may use the proceeds to provide food and shelter to the poor, or work with disabled individuals – you never know. Give back a little by being friendly.