Sunday, June 9, 2013

on becoming an op shopping queen

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 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!

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.
     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.
     Just sayin'!


  1. Oh no I might have gone too far, numbers 7,6 and 2 apply to me! By the way I'm on the search for some more of those "banana style" baskets, you are killing me with that top pic. Love the new look too!

    1. He son sat me down and asked if we could have a big clean out today. He is 5. Do you think we might be a bit cluttered? I will look out for banana style baskets for you, I have seen two in the last wee while. x

  2. hey, the blogs, looking great, and your photo is charming!
    and what a great post, PLEASE link it up on Tuesday!
    Ok, I am guilty of 2, 3 and 6. our china/pottery collecting has outgrown the house never mind the kitchen, but i feel it's acceptable to hoard pottery as it's not flammable!
    High on my list of things to find are a plain navy blue woolen blanket for my latest braided rug project and a large black leather tooled handbag (big enough for a laptop), both apparently rare as hens teeth!

    1. Thanks Max, I hadn't thought of linking it up on Tuesday, I will do that. I have to admit to number 6 too. I am a friendly soul, what can I say?! Navy blue woollen blankets are hard to find but now you've made a public announcement i'll bet one turns up! x

  3. Darnit, I've gone too far! 2, 3 and 6 apply here, too!
    I try to, mostly, only op shop fabric, dresses and kids clothing these days - buying a small house was not the best plan for us! haha

    1. I hear you...we live in a teeny house with next to no storage. You should see how much fabric I can fit under my bed though! Yes, I am pretty strict with myself too these days. Finding good vintage fabric is getting super hard in Auckland though...might have to do the road trip. Squee!

  4. Hee hee I definitely get the grown when I say I'm just popping into an op shop. My kids are going to have a lot of memories of me doing that when they're older! And of sitting under a rack of musty clothes WAITING for me to finish browsing! I've got quite quick though. Sometimes I'm in the mood for dallying. I just love it! My happy place!

    1. Ha...i can always tell the old hands in the op shops...they have a focus and a speed that only comes with practice! Like me and you. (I love it too) x