Op shopping: A beginner’s guide

Guitar-shaped stand - op shop

In the past couple of years op shopping has experienced a huge boom in popularity. Unfortunately I’m a little behind the times and haven’t quite caught up on the craze, so I’ve enlisted the help of Anthony – my little brother and op-shopper extraordinaire – to give me the lowdown.

So, first things first:

What is an op shop? 

Exterior image of a Vinnies Op Shop

Vinnies Op Shop

An op (short for opportunity) shop is a store run by a charitable organisation where goods are sold to raise money for their cause. In Australia, op shops are often run by associations such as the Salvation Army (Salvos), St Vincent De Paul (Vinnies) or Lifeline who use the proceeds to assist people who are doing it a little tough. Goods sold in store are generally second-hand items donated by people in the local community and are sold for a fraction of the price you could expect to pay in retail stores.

Op shop products

Books, CDs, clothing and more! Some examples of the products you might expect to find at an op shop!

Where can you find them?

Op shops are located all over Brisbane and odds are that there is definitely one (or several) near you. I’ve found this great website which provides a list of op shops located in Brisbane by suburb.

Why use an op shop?

There are multiple benefits to op shopping – primarily the bargain prices. Anthony regularly picks up retro CDs for as little as 50c and says the maximum he has paid was $2. Which brings me to the second benefit – originality. Since they rely on donations, op shops are the perfect places to source unique items that might not be available in larger retail stores – older CDs and records, antique furniture and vintage clothing are just some of the available items that can really give your home, or wardrobe, a touch of individuality.  Also worth keeping in mind is the fact that op shops exist as a means of giving back to the community, it’s a nice feeling to know that the dollars you spend in store are going towards helping someone in need.

What can you buy?

The range of products available at op shops is super diverse, from unique pieces of clothing and accessories; affordable pieces of furniture for your home (great for setting up your accommodation if you are a newly arrived student!), office or apartment; unique household items like mugs, vases, books, CDs and board games the variety is almost endless.

Tip: Op shopping is excellent for fancy dress parties where you can pick up inexpensive items to suit almost any theme.

Guitar-shaped CD stand - op shop

One of Anthony’s unique op shop purchases – a guitar-shaped CD stand.

Are there any limitations?

Op shops rely on donations, which means that there is never a guarantee that any one store will have an item that you are after. For this reason, it pays to walk into an op shop with a fairly open mind – if you have something specific in mind, there is a chance you could walk away disappointed. Similarly, because the majority of products are second-hand, some items – particularly clothing – may not always be in perfect condition.

Tip: pop into your local op shop often as new stock is frequently being delivered.

There you have it Explore readers, some (hopefully) helpful tips that explain the op shop phenomenon a little better. So go out and get your hands on some bargains!

– Elizabeth


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