Vintage dresses, retro cameras, and afternoon tea. Here's what I learned about op-shopping (aka thrift shopping) from someone who shops vintage for her business, and my experience visiting as many op-shops in Bendigo as I could find.
Excerpt from the Spring issue of the Bendigo Magazine...
"Everyone knows someone who seems to have the luck of the draw when it comes to shopping vintage. You might be out having coffee and they casually drop into conversation that their leather jacket (that you’ve been secretly admiring) was picked up for an absolute steal at the op-shop around the corner. Or, you’re throwing your sister a vintage bridal shower and she just randomly drops by the Salvos on the way home from work and stumbles upon a dress practically made for the occasion…no alterations required…with matching heels found at the same store. Authentic vintage outfit sorted in fifteen minutes flat. Maybe you don’t know them in real life, but you might be regularly scrolling past photos of their finds on your Instagram feed. Or you might be flipping through a magazine showing a renovation in Richmond…and almost every room is pulled together perfectly around a one-of-a-kind industrial piece…the fine print of which almost always points to an op-shop find. You can say it with me…why wasn’t that me?! So, with the popularity of vintage only on the increase, I wanted to figure out the tricks of the trade behind these skillful op-shoppers. " Click here to read the full article.
Keren from My Vintage Tea Hire shops vintage for her business, so she was the perfect person to give me some advice about how to approach becoming a better thrift shopper. Her top five suggestions are...
1. Op often!
You can’t just expect to go on one op shopping spree every 2 months and find bountiful treasures. Try to visit op shops often, even if only for a quick 5 minute look on your way somewhere. Stock changes so regularly (often daily) and, frankly, the good stuff gets snapped up! We are somewhat blessed in Bendigo with so many op-shops, so it’s easy to pop into a few a week.
Not all the best goodies will be on display. Often op shops will have drawers and baskets packed with stuff. It pays to dig around and see what might be hiding. This is especially true for clothes. Unless you take the time to flick through the racks you might never spot that designer jacket with your name on it.
3. Claim it!
Trust no one! Well, not quite but if you think you want something, pick it up and carry it with you. This tip comes from my own experiences and one in particular of a friend. As she politely stepped outside to call me about a great teacup in a cabinet, the teacup was whisked away by another buyer. If you end up with full hands or something is heavy, just ask to pop it at the counter. But be warned....make sure the staff know it’s yours! There’s another poaching story about that!
4. Pick wisely!
A $4 dress or a 50c cup might sound great, but if you get it home and decide you don’t like it or it doesn’t fit...not so much. The occasional impulse buy is to be expected but don’t let low price tags fill your wardrobe or house with clutter. Try on clothes and think about how you will use items before buying.
5. Be Nice!
Of course hopefully this comes naturally but make sure you say ‘hi’ to staff and be friendly and polite. Don’t be afraid to ask them if they have a specific item either. Conversations like this can lead to ‘backroom’ discoveries, discounts or just a nice chat with a lovely volunteer
Lastly, here is a list of all the places I visited. This is not the definitive list of every op-shop in Bendigo, but it's a good starting point if you're up for a day of thrift shopping! They all have slightly different trading hours but if you aim for 10am most should be open by then. According to a volunteer in the Uniting Care store on McCrae street, she heard there were at least 26 stores currently running in Bendigo...so there's definitely an opportunity to discover some more :)
1. Salvation Army Second Chance Op-Shop - 47b Eaglehawk Road, (just before you go through the lights towards Spotlight
2. California Gully Uniting Care Op-Shop - approx 320 Eaglehawk Road, near Home Timber & Hardware
3. Salvation Army Thrift Shop - 12 High Street, Eaglehawk
4. Uniting Care Uptown Op-Shop - 6 Sailors Gully Road, Eaglehawk
5. Vinnies - 23 High Street, Eaglehawk
6. Vision Australia - 3 Wills Street
7. Salvation Army - 14 Lockwood Rd, Kangaroo Flat (opposite Aldi)
8. Golden Square Uniting Care - Corner of Panton & Laurel Streets
9. Vinnies - 117-119 High Street, Kangaroo Flat
10. Salvation Army - Whip Court, Long Gully
11. Uniting Care - 157a McCrae Street (opposite TAFE)
12. Vinnies - 31 Chapel Street
13. Red Cross - 293 Lyttleton Tce
14. Storehouse - 80 Michell Street
15. Bendigo Baptist Community Care - Hargreaves Street almost opposite the Town Hall
(Current as at August 2013)
If you've got a store location or vintage shopping story to tell, please feel free to share using the social media links below!