Opportunity knocks more than once! The beginners guide to Op Shopping.

So, once again I’m either a glutton for punishment or a genius,  I haven’t quite worked that out yet. I have again set myself another challenge, in the hope that it makes me a better all-around person (here’s hoping).  In 2017 I have set myself the task of only buying myself second-hand clothes the entire year eek!

I ‘ve been at this conquest now for a few months, so far, so good. I have learned to stalk my second-hand prey, like a lioness hunting for her cubs. (Stay with me here it gets better!) I am becoming adept at finding the right op shops and the one dollar bargain racks, knowing when student discount days apply and finding the right colored tag for the elusive 50% discount.

I recognise brand tags now like I recognise my own children, this has been a mighty leap given I was never a brand kinda girl. However, I do know if I want to re-sell my catch I need to make sure it’s the latest popular branded shit.

I have discovered even those snobby creatures behind a counter exist in this secondhand environment. At one stage I felt like Julia Roberts on Rodeo drive as Pretty Woman, and I wanted to yell “Well colour me happy, there’s a sofa in here for two”. (It only works if you say it with a southern twang). It surprised me that people selling second-hand clothes that were donated to them could be snobby about their merchandise and judgmental towards their customers. On the upside, most of the shops that used Volunteers like the Red Cross were super friendly and were always up for a chinwag.

So, what should this lioness do with her new-found knowledge: pass it on to her tribal friends of course, just like the cycle of life!

I will add I do draw the line at undies and socks, not that most people don’t have clean and tidy bums and feet. It’s probably just me, I have a thing about not sharing undies.

Step 1: Pre-preparation; Start thinking about heading out to the op shops, but before you do:

Check your wardrobe what colour shoes go with what, what do you love to wear in terms of fabric and comfort and what colour looks best on you besides black. Get rid of that thought that paints the picture of the perfect green skirt, it’s never out there if you’re looking for it. if you have this expectation when heading out. Instead, imagine different types of vague outfits that could mix and match.

Step 2: Packing the essentials;

Prepare for the day of op shopping, drink check, toilet check, comfortable shoes, easy to remove clothing, spare bags, GPS and some chocolate snacks in case you find yourself lost between Vinnies and the Salvos. It’s tough going out there, just like squeezing a bear’s poo for droplets of nourishment you must be prepared to survive anything that day, after all, I’m not sure even Bear Grills would survive this challenge! Do your hair this can make you feel and look better, do not apply camouflage paint, the Bear Grills reference was my attempt at humor.

Step 2Hitting the Road;

Some of us like to hunt alone, others like to hunt in packs with their tribe. Whatever floats your boat really. Map out the best places to go in order of closing times. The scatter gun approach doesn’t work if it’s your first-time out use references from your tribe on where the expedition should be. Don’t be a drongo use you GPS, time wasted on the road is time wasted on a bargain. If you’re an experienced explorer then you can take a group out for an initiation safari. Don’t waste time those fake leopard skin shoes are still on the shelf waiting for the taking. A tip to remember is that the further you go from the city, the cheaper the finds get. So get off the beaten trap now and then.

Step 3: Into the remoteness of the second-hand jungle;

The best second-hand shops are the little unknowns tucked away somewhere in the concrete jungle, a place that only the locals know about and good hunters who can smell a $1.00 rack from upstream. Check the op shops on the perimeters outside the concrete jungle. Also, work out where the most affluent jungles exist and find the op shop bin closest to them, that’s the one you want. Residing in these bins are the expensive clothes that the privileged throwout, some clothes still with tags on them.

Step 4:  Sight and touch are your best weapons;

You will need to rely heavily on your sense of sight and touch and before you say ew! Remember Bear Grills had to touch a rancid camel sleeping bag, you on the other hand only need to touch used polar fleece. Look for colors and brands that you like and touch fabrics as they can tell you the quality of the garment. Always try the thing on first unless they are $1.00 then fly by the seat of your pants and buy it and re-gift back to the shop if you don’t like it once home. That way you have also given a donation.

Step 5: Going in for the purchase;

Decide how much you are prepared to pay for an item and try to remember you’re not buying your last supper, just some second-hand clothes, so don’t contemplate forever. Pay for your goods and if you’re tight on money, always ask if they will take less than the advertised price it can’t hurt to ask. Also, be aware that you have cash too because some op shops don’t have EFTPOS.

So, you have just been dropped into the harshest of elements of all and you survived, well done. The other challenge for you is this; If you can afford to, pay for a strangers lot in an op shop, pay it forward.

Step 6: Share the catch

Go home, try on, show family and friends your bargain of the day. Then use social media to boast about your second-hand bargains, and do your bit to reduce the stigma attached to not having material brand name possessions. Wear them proudly and tell the friend who will only buy brand name clothes, what a bargain you got.

Now I know I’m not saving the planet or the Poison Dart Frog, but I am setting myself a simple goal, in the hope that I can live more simply. Yes, I am doing it because of economic reasons, but hopefully, I’m not straying too far from my philosophy of leading a meaningful life.

For people in Hobart Town, Tasmania, I have rated my top op shops, so in the words of Molly Meldrum “do yourself a favour”.

And for Prue behind the counter at the exclusive op shop; “Always remember that you are absolutely unique. Just like everyone else my dear.”  Margaret Mead.

My top Op Shops in my hometown and Campbell Town Hobart Tasmania

1 = Poor

3= ok

5 = Excellent

St Vinnes – Rosny and New Town. City Mission – Goulburn St Hobart Lifeline Chosen Pieces – Kingston Beach Salvation Army New Town and Bellerive Red Cross City and Kingston South Hobart Tip Shop Dodges Ferry Op shop
Ease of access (parking) 5 5 5 3 5 5 5
Open weekends 5 3 5 5 3 5 3
Quality of goods (brand names) 5 3 5 3 5 3 5
Best bargains (1.00 racks) 3 5 3 5 3 5 5
The Unique and Unusual hunts 1 5 3 5 3 5 3
Friendliness of staff 3 5 1 3 5 3 5
Organisation – sizes, colours and brands. 5 5 3 3 5 1 1
Smell 3 3 3 1 3 3 3
Willing to barter 1 5 1 1 3 5 5
Total 31 39 29 29 35 35 35

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