If you're a trendy Melbournian magpie or a vintage-seeking visitor, you have probably heard all about Shag, Retro Star, Hunter Gatherer and all the inner-city emporiums of 'retro chic' with which scene-setters line their wardrobes.You have probably also heard all about Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, the revered Mecca of many a hipster.
But if you, like me, live or find yourself in the gentrified and family-friendly confines of the Eastern suburbs, away from the hype and hubbub of these stores and closer to shiny shopping centres, jogging couples and Grenda and Ventura bus lines, don't worry.
In fact, consider yourself blessed. You may not be within the vicinity of Brunswick Street , but there is a wealth of op shops in which you can find some unexpected gems-at a mere fraction of the price they'd charge you in a hip vintage boutique.
Located next to Blackburn High School, Blackburn North Square is a small shopping centre, home to a Vietnamese bakery, some quiet cafes and a Go-Lo. Next to Commonwealth bank of this precinct, and adjacent to the car park, is a reasonably sized Doncare Opportunity Shop.
This recent discovery has provided me with some quality browsing time as well as a number of purchases over the past month. Square scarves with great designs and patterns can be frequently found here (normally $2.50, or less if there's a sale on).
I also bought a very chic brown leather satchel-already a crazy bargain at $3, but snagged at the 'get out of here' price of $1.50 as it was half-price day. Although the shoe section is a bit dingy, the place is otherwise very nicely laid out and pleasant to browse in.
2. Salvation Army, Box Hill
One of the opshops I frequent, this particular branch of the Salvos is nestled among several Chinese cafes, a shop selling Angry Bird toys and a Korean confectionery store. Some of the finds I've discovered shopping here include a cream lace Forever New blazer, an old rosary and a big, warm black cardigan. Pretty large book section.
A bit more expensive than Doncare, but frequently stocked with a good clothing selection, and an ideal location for browsing after lunching at the nearby cheap Asian eateries.
3. Mission Op Shop, Blackburn South
A newcomer to the bunch of opshops on Canterbury Road, this one is just off Canterbury. Owned by a friendly and genial couple who are always up for a chat and quite generous with their compliments. We found a nice pink slip and an earth-toned floral dress here. There was a small but nice selection of black leather boots, but alas, none fit.
4. Rotary Op Shop, Blackburn South
A good selection of menswear-we found some assorted tweed and hound's-tooth patterned coats. Very reasonable prices-bought a pair of heels here for a mere $3. The shop is small but cosy, and a good range of everything can be found here.
5. Animal Liberation, Burwood
Run by a pair of friendly, fashionable mums and their three yappy yet adorable dogs, this place sells mostly women's clothing with a nice rack of cocktail dresses and a fair amount of designer and branded clothing.