Someone said to me today, ‘Wow, great coat, I could never afford to buy a coat like that’. I looked her in the eye and said,’This coat cost $15’.
What followed were murmurs along the lines of, ‘ I don’t know how you do it, I could never find the time’.
Let me just say for the record: Anyone can be an op shop queen (or thrift store queen for you northern hemisphere dwellers), come with me and I’ll show you the ropes. I have been a keen second hand shopper since I was twelve and discovered the local church charity shop. We didn’t have much money and I was desperate to buy or make my own clothes...at ten cents a pop from the op shop, I could wrest clothing control into my own hot little hands. I haven’t looked back since. And let me tell you folks...that’s a lot of years of financially limited international op shopping experience right here!
Okay, let us begin....
Rule number one: Never walk by an op shop without popping in. Seriously, it need only take 5 minutes.
Rule number two : Keep a mental list of the things you are looking out for in op shops. They are not the kind of place you will knock off your list in one go, but it is worthwhile being clear about what you need.
Rule number three: Turn your bargain eyes ON upon entering the op shop. Focus...and GO! Scan every corner...some of my best finds have been in boxes buried under other things.
Rule number four: Spread the love, tell fellow op shopping queens what you are looking for. You will receive urgent texts with photos from op shops in the coming days...fun!
Rule number five: Keep a small change fund in your bag. This is your op shopping budget. Even if you are skint as, you can usually scrape together a bit of coinage...turning that into a fabulous dress or vintage knit in an otherwise skint week can do wonders for the spirit.
Rule number six: If you don’t really really love it, leave it behind. Someone will.
Rule number seven: spring clean in summer, autumn and winter too...we queens have a habit of collecting more than we should, and remember, clutter takes impact away from those beautiful vintage finds!
Rule number eight: share the love, buy something you think a friend would adore. Giving presents is second only in joy to receiving them.
Rule number nine: Mama’s, have a strategy for younger kidlets, pull out that new book while they’re in the stroller, time the opshop visit for naptime while they’re in the carrier on your back, or set the older ones off on a treasure hunt. Be smart about getting your time to browse.
Rule number ten: newly crowned op shop queens, ask the more seasoned among us where the best places are. Some op shops are known for their retro china, some for clothes, some have irregular opening hours...a seasoned queen will set you straight.
And most importantly:
How to know if you’ve gone too far:
1 You have trouble getting in your front door for boxes of treasure.
2 You count more than five pieces of op shopped clothing that need alteration before you can wear it.
3 Your china collection has outgrown your kitchen.
4 You spend two months looking for a winter jacket for your son, but when you return finally triumphant, you realise it is spring and it’s too small anyway.
5 A family member mistakes you for your nana.
6 They know you by name in every op shop you enter.
7 Your kids groan every time you pull into an op shop car park.
8 You refuse to buy even makeup or underwear new anymore.