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Published May 8th 2012
Six op shops are located within a couple of blocks of each other in Wynnum's Bay Tce. Lifelife and Endeavour are next door neighbours.
Op shops can be a tricky thing to find. Quite often they are tucked away behind a church or a side alley in a place where you feel like you aren't allowed to be. Brisbane has its fair share of quality op shops dotted around the city however for an uncomplicated ideal precinct to 'Op-shop hop' I headed down to Wynnum and battled the pensioners on a recent sunny morning to see what was on offer.
Bay Terrace in Wynnum Central is the eastern suburbs op shopping mecca with many major charities represented including Lifeline, The Salvation Army, Endeavour Foundation and St Vincent De Paul along with smaller foundations including the Asthma foundation and Aid for the Blind. These outlets are conveniently all located a 'op' skip and jump away from each other.
I would be being completely fake if I said I was even remotely enchanted by any of the clothing on offer at any of the stores that I visited. In fact, I was rather turned off by the colours of all the clothes which were all varying shades of granny. However to be fair I didn't look carefully at the clothing and have never frequented op shops for their clothes, specifically since I generally prefer my clothes to be first hand. That said though, I am the first to admit you can find some quality pieces at a bargain price if you carefully comb through the abundance on offer. Women with shoe fetishes could be in luck too since the Aid for the Blind store featured racks upon racks of heels, flats, floral canvas shoes and those leather gladiator strap-shoes that seem to be all the rage.
Definitely no gladiator strap shoes for me though as I had a mission in mind which is further furnish and decorate my house on a budget. At Vinnies (Cnr Charlotte Street and Bay Tce) I was charmed by a good selection of antique crockery and homewares, along with some impressive brass candelabra for $10 - it tempted me because of its authenticity but I couldn't visualise it among the more modern furnishings in my house. I was however persuaded by a rustic $3 farmhouse and countryside print to hang in the kitchen and two minutes later, I had bargain one of the day in my clutches.
Among all the op shops on Bay Terrace, Vinnies and Aid for the Blind (just off Bay Tce on Florence St) offer the best selection of furniture and electrical items so if you're needing to set up house and need some larger furniture items (sofa, tables, entertainment units), these places are larger than the Salvos or Lifeline and have more in the way of home furnishings. Don't expect a modern look though since its a seventies vibe through and through with browns, oranges and even olive green all getting proudly showcased in the furniture section of the store - but if this is your palate, chances are you will be in retro heaven amongst the furnishings.
Aid for the Blind and Vinnies outlets provide the best selection of furniture and homewares.
If you're looking for literature, never discount the op-shop for some absolute bargains with books in good nick and a fraction of the price of second hand bookstores which sometimes charge an arm and a leg despite the yellowing pages. The Salvation Army is the pick for pre-loved novels on Bay Terrace, with plenty of picture books for the kids in mainly good condition. Fans of a Danielle Steel romance would have their hearts-a-flutter with a huge selection of swoon-worthy narratives. Crime and mystery paperbacks abound at Bay Tce's Salvos outlet as well, and are available at only the cost of the loose change in your pocket.
Salvos has a great range of novels and children's picture book on offer at bargain prices.
I, like other hard-copy music lovers have long mourned the death of the CD single which is no longer produced in a physical format in Australia. Fear not since you can still find singles, albeit from previous decades in many op-shops. In the Asthma Foundation, I combed through hit singles of the yesteryear and was given a good dose of nostalgia as I remembered Will Smith's 'Men in Black' and Nikki Webster's 'Strawberry Kisses'. Yes she was once famous. I was most excited however by the early Something For Kate single 'Monsters' which I don't think had too much of an impact on the charts, but I remembered enjoying their sound at the time. Since the single also came with 3 unreleased b-sides, it was sold at the modest price of one buck. Score number two of the day for me and feeling quite pleased with myself by now.
I left my op shopping there but knew I would be returning to this convenient 'pre-loved' precinct on Brisbane's bayside. Since op shops continually have a fast turnover of items, my advice would be to snap up a bargain if you spot one because chances are it won't be there next week. Yes, it's true that you do sometimes have to sort the trash from the treasure, but you can have an interesting and fun experience while doing it and are usually guaranteed to score yourself a bargain in the process.