Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Op Shopping Talk

I gave a talk on op shopping today at my church.
The first half of the talk was from my first post on "10 Great Reasons to Op Shop". 
I'm sharing the second half the talk with you here, full of tips and local knowledge. :-)

Op Shopping 101

My parents have been taking me to op shops ever since I can remember. Every time we travelled somewhere we would check out the closest op shops. I remember searching through the containers of toys as a kid, trying to get the best value for my pocket money. Or being 13, and finding a green dress with white polka dots that I wore to death. When I was a uni student my entire winter wardrobe was from the op shop, I found some great long coats, and I slowly built up my collection of fantasy books from there. Then I had kids, and only went to op shops when my parents were there to run interference. But now I go regularly, with kids, and it is so fun! I've got some tips to share with you, but first I want to take you through the reasons why op shopping is such a great idea.

So now I've hopefully convinced you to give op shopping a try, I'll share some tips with you.

My boys playing with a set of roads from the op shop.

First of all, op shopping with children. It can be challenging. Some days are better than others. I find it easiest to go shopping with the minimum number of children, so I go during the day when A is at school. I always go in the morning as that is when R is at his best behaviour wise. I try not to go too close to his nap time, and we both eat before we go. I try a number of strategies depending on his mood. Sometimes I try putting him in the stroller with some food and toys. Or I take him in without the stroller, take him to the toy section and tell him he can choose one toy to take home. That sometimes gives me 10 minutes of browsing time. If you're trying clothes on, you're best to keep them in the stroller. Taking along a friend or grandparent can be really helpful too. A friend of mine takes her child regularly to the op shop and makes a treat out of it. She started off going to the shop for about 10 minutes, then taking her child for an ice cream. Gradually she built up the time she stayed in the shop, always finishing with an ice cream. Now her little girl asks her to go there. I find when my kids are ratty, it's best to keep the visit short, and only focus on one area, say books, or homewares.

If you want to go op shopping for clothes, you need patience. It takes time to go through all the daggy clothes on the rack looking for those couple of good ones. Most op shops organise their clothes into tops, skirts, jackets as well as mens, women's, children's. There is usually a 16+ area and that is where I look. After a while you get to know your brands and can look through quicker. For instance, I know I won't fit into a size 16 from Target, but I will fit into a size 16 from Autograph. Go on the internet and look up body shape, and research what styles look best on you. That way when you're scanning for clothes you can overlook the ones that are in your size, but you know won't look good on your body shape.

Also when shopping for clothes for your children, it's important to think ahead. Right now A is a size 5-6 in shirts, but if I see a great jacket, or a button-down shirt in a size 7 or 8, I'll buy it and put it away for later. When I go to op shops I'm always looking for the next size, so when A reaches a size 7, I already have a wardrobe assembled ready to wear. Go through your children's drawers and write down what they need, and carry the list in your handbag. For instance R has plenty of t-shirts, but could do with a few more pairs of shorts and a light jacket. The better informed you are about what you need, the quicker you can be when browsing. Though if you don't have the kids with you, take the time to look at everything. That's often when you find the good stuff.

I thought I'd share some clothes I've picked up from op shops. ((clothing examples))

As for local op shops in the area, we have quite a few here in Newcastle. I've included a website link on your handouts that is a search engine for op shops. You can do a search by postcode, or area. Sometimes they even have reviews. The op shop chains all have their positives and negatives.

Mum's collection of brass objects found at op shops.
Salvos I find the most overpriced, but they are well-organised and roomy, so it's easier to find stuff. The best time to shop there is the first part of the week, as they bring out their new stock over the weekend, and on Monday and Tuesday. Salvos have a labelling system where they label by week. So all the clothes that come in a particular week all get orange tags. All the clothes that get put out the following week get green tags, and so on. Each week they have a half price sale on a particular tag colour which matches their window display. So if all the clothes in the window display are orange, then all orange tag clothes are half-price that week. They also have a frequent visitors card, and every time you make a purchase, your card gets stamped. When your card is full you're entitled to half-price off all clothing (except the tag colour on sale that week) next visit.

Vinnies and Lifeline are often more reasonably priced. Vinnies have the best selection of toys compared to the other chains. Salvos only seem to have the little plastic Mcdonalds stuff most of the time. The op shops I visit regularly are Salvos on Newcastle Rd, near Jesmond and Salvos and Vinnies at Mayfield. If you want furniture then the Salvos on Hunter St have the most, though there are some furniture pieces at most of the Salvo stores. There isn't really one particular op shop that is the best. The best thing to find the op shops that are convenient to you, and visit them regularly. I've heard there are some nice ones in Cardiff, and in the main street of Wallsend there are 3, Lifeline being the most reasonably priced out of them all.

Op shops are great sources for baskets and tupperware. Check the lids of tupperware for any cracks before you buy, they're usually the first part to break. If you have kids that love dress ups, op shops are great for dresses, jackets, handbags. Op shops are fantastic for books, especially children's books. Also magazines, I've picked up scrapbooking mags, Donna Hay, Home Beautiful and many cookbooks. If you ever get the chance to check out op shops in country areas do! They are often more reasonably priced, and have a better variety of stock.
I encourage you to pick an op shop and get started. If the idea seems overwhelming, just choose one op shop, and focus on one area, like toys or homewares. Give it a try!


Bek's op shop blog:

Search for an op shop in your area:

Some other great op shop blogs:
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zigsma said...

Excellent tips! Op shopping is the best!!

Thrifted Treasure said...

Great tips! Thanks so much for mentioning my blog :-) I love reading other mums' tips on bringing kids shopping, mine can be a nightmare sometimes!

Susan said...

Informative tips there. I can highly recommend country town Op Shops for great bargains. Today I've driven 7 hours through country NSW on my own, so checked out a few Op Shops in small towns along the way, bagging some treasures. It seems country Op Shops have a particular day each week where certain stock is half price, or just $1 or $2, e.g. one day it might be childrens' clothing, or kitchenware & china, other days all books will be half price or 50c each, etc. I've stumbled upon some unique and exciting finds on those days.