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Published November 27th 2016
While retailing giants muscle into the Coles/Woolies arm-wrestle for our shopping dollar and online comparison shopping is becoming our new point and click addiction, an opportunity still exists for the nostalgic bargain shopper. Op Shops, just like second-hand bookstores, fulfil our secret desires to discover unexpected treasures, feeling the same ecstasy Aladdin experienced when he freed a magical genie from a tarnished old lamp.
As online shopping diverts our dollars from retail strips, giant shopping centres might seem to be our only option for customer service and physical browsing. Fortunately, the Op Shop still exists in many suburbs, fed with donated, pre-loved homewares, art, books, DVDs, clothes and priceless heirlooms. At the Op Shop, enjoy the feel-good rush of endorphins as you satisfy your shopaholic craving with every purchase contributing to a very worthy local charity. An annual bargain hunt begins in the National Op Shop Week in the last week of August.
The Salvation Army has stores throughout Sydney, with the nearest to the city centre at Darlinghurst, Glebe and Bondi Junction. Further afield, there are stores at Marrickville, St Peters, Croydon, Balgowlah, Brookvale and Rockdale. In our western suburbs, the Salvos are at Lidcombe, North Parramatta, Chester Hill, Yagoona and Fairfield. In 2016, they are celebrating their 130th birthday, with bargains (see the catalogue) for brand new makeup, Finding Dory toys, drinking bottles and kitchenware, children's clothes and backpacks, gadgets and luxury pillows, cleaning products, board games, home furniture and decorations.
The social media sensation, Vinnies shops have been a treasure trove for fashionistas looking for stylish bargains for a night out or a job interview. The process isn't a secret, with special styling sessions hosted at stores to help you find an outfit to wow your friends and colleagues. Vinnies has long aisles of clothing, accessories, toys, books, bric-a-brac (assorted small, sentimental items), DVDs and games, sporting goods and the occasional electrical gadget and piece of furniture.
The bower bird obsessively snatches trash and treasure to furnish its nest, mastering the art of home renovation on a budget. The Bower in Marrickville and Parramatta rescue pre-loved items, including appliances, books, furniture and accessories, bicycles and building supplies. As you search for bargains, you can also join workshops to learn how to re-upholster and restore timber furniture and create mosaic artworks.
For over 40 years, this award-winning co-operative in Marrickville has become Australia's largest creative reuse centre, with a giant range of reno and DIY items, haberdashery, home and office furniture, decorative porcelain and glass object-da, and end-of-season designer items. For your next fancy dress party, look for the film props, costumes, wigs and jewellery used to create some of Hollywood's biggest blockbusters.
Where do you love to trove for vintage treasure? What is your favourite item from an Op Shop? Please leave a comment. We'd love to hear your ideas.