I'm a freelance writer based in Perth, Western Australia, who enjoys writing about the things I love: travel, nature-based activities, the arts, spirituality and creative, fun activities for children.
Published August 27th 2015
Take A Nostalgic Shopping Journey Into Yesteryear
There's no doubt about it – as the old saying goes, 'What goes around comes around.' The appetite for vintage wares is huge these days, a social trend that has immeasurably benefited Australia's numerous opportunity shops, not to mention, saved our environment from thousands of tons of unnecessary landfill.
With the immense popularity of retro wares these days, and a burgeoning awareness of sustainable eco-friendly living, op shops, thrift shops, swap meets, garage sales and even tip shops are undergoing an immense surge in popularity with people from all walks of life taking the plunge and enthusiastically riffling through their neighbours' cast-offs.
And it can be a profitable pastime too. We're all familiar with Antiques Roadshow and other similar series, not to mention the regular stories that pop up in the media about ordinary people such as you and I who inadvertently stumble upon priceless treasure amongst the dusty recesses of their local charity store. If they can do so, perhaps we can too.
Here in Perth thrifty shoppers and vintage aficionados can find op shops of all shapes and sizes, all run by well-respected charities and community groups, with profits benefitting the good works that they do. However, along with the highly visible big name charity shops that can be found in most suburbs, there are also quite a few smaller establishments dotted here and there throughout the Perth metro area. These places are often run by smaller community groups and churches, and unlike those affiliated with larger organisations, are relatively unknown – often not even appearing in the various lists of op-shopping havens that can easily be found online.
Many of these places are small, cute, friendly and brimming with atmosphere – all qualities that seasoned vintage-shopping-lovers adore. They're the kind of places where you'll be greeted with a genuine smile, and perhaps even offered a cuppa and cookie, if you're lucky. On the practical side, they're often very well-priced, with plenty of lovely good-quality items up for grabs.
For the benefit of op-shopping enthusiasts, the following paragraphs mention some of Perth's best secret charity stores. Read on to learn more about these quaint little portals into a gentler era, where scoring some great bargains is only part of the fun.
St Martin's House Op Shop and Bookshop Located in a quaint old-fashioned corner store, just behind St Martin's in the Fields Anglican Church in Kensington, my visit here was an absolute pleasure. This place brims with friendliness and atmosphere, and is somewhere you'll want to wander around at leisure rather than whizz through in a hurry. It is also a spot that, once discovered, you'll be eager to visit again and again.
St Martin's House Op Shop sells lovely good-quality clothing, accessories, toys, bric-a-brac and much more, while its semi-detached bookshop also has some great bargains. The stores are promoted very actively in the local area, with quarterly theme weeks (such as Books & Literature, Toys & Games, Antiques & Collectibles, etc), during which all items corresponding to the specific theme are dramatically reduced in price. Four times a year St Martin's also runs church bazaars, and the op shop is open for these, along with several other great stalls – the profit all goes to benefit parish ministries.
St Martin's House Op Shop and Bookshop is located at the corner of Brandon and Vista Streets in Kensington. To find out more, take a look at their Facebook page or call 08 9367 2798.
Kalamunda CWA Op Shop Kalamunda combines the best of both worlds – city and country. Surrounded by bushland and small farms yet conveniently located within the Perth metro area, it's not surprising that it also possesses a flourishing branch of that much-loved Australian institution, the Country Women's Association. To raise funds for the various projects and charities it supports, Kalamunda CWA runs a great little opportunity shop in the heart of town, chock-a-block full of all sorts of wonderful wares.
Situated in a building just off the carpark behind the Dome cafe, it's actually quite a bit larger than it appears from the outside and comprises of two rooms full of smaller items such as jewellery, bric-a-brac, homewares, glass ware, craft, toys and books. If you're living on a budget but still have a taste for beautiful things this is a great place to shop. As one of the ladies discreetly confided, since Kalamunda is a well-heeled area, the cast-offs that end up in the shop are generally pretty classy. Better still, the prices are great too, so if you're looking for exceptional value, this is the place to head for.
If you haven't visited before, Kalamunda CWA Op Shop is a little tricky to find, and this may be why it has remained a local secret – until now. Although the street address is 19 Mead Street, in reality it's situated well off the road (and not easily seen), behind the bus station. For first-time visitors I'd recommend entering the parking area behind Kalamunda's Dome Cafe at 31 Canning Road. The shop is situated just off this, slightly to the right. If all else fails, just ask a local for directions.
St Barnabas Op Shop in Kalamunda
Also in Kalamunda, the St Barnabas Anglican Church Op Shop is another small friendly op shop that vintage-loving bargain hunters will certainly love. Known locally as Verna's Room, it actually comprises of a couple of rooms filled with lovely pre-loved wares. One room has clothing items, while the other contains kitchen wares, glass, pottery, bric-a-brac, toys and other bits and pieces. Don't overlook the foyer, either, as there are usually some pretty trinkets there as well. Once again, due to the store's location, and the fact that many of the goods on sale are locally-sourced, the quality is very good and you're almost certain to snare a great bargain.
St Barnabas Op Shop is situated at the corner of Railway and Spring Roads in Kalamunda, directly across the road from the Centro Kalamunda Shopping Plaza. To find out more, visit the St Barnabas website. Opening hours are 9.00am until 11.30am, Monday to Saturday.
Earthwise Community Centre Op Shop
Located in trendy Subiaco, the op shop at the Earthwise Community Centre is another great place to search for bargains and maybe even treasure. Adjacent to the Subiaco Uniting Church in the old church hall, the shop embraces the centre's ethos of recycling and eco-friendly living, and contains a wonderful assortment of interesting locally-sourced goodies, along with all the usual opportunity shop stalwarts such as pre-loved clothes, books, bric-a-brac, toys and games.
When you've finished your treasure-hunting, be sure to amble around the community garden that surrounds the shop. If you visit during spring or autumn, the gardens are a lush haven of horticultural activity, adorned with colourful up-cycled sculpture and art. The centre holds regular community gardening days (Friday morning busy bees), so if you've got green fingers and some spare time, perhaps visit the op shop when one of these is being held.
Earthwise Community Centre and op shop are situated at 315 Bagot Road in Subiaco. Visit their website to learn more or call 0413 842 372.
St Mark's Anglican Church Thrift Shop
Another blast from the past can be found in the beautiful riverside suburb of Bassendean, at St Mark's Anglican Church Thrift Shop. Situated in the old church hall it's full of all the old-fashioned ambiance of days gone by, with lovely friendly volunteers who are always up for a friendly chat. Relatively unknown outside of Bassendean, this sweet little shop is always full of surprises and has regular stock coming in, as locals clear their wardrobes. All our thrift shop favourites and much more can be found here, so even if Bassendean is a little out of your way it's well worth the time and effort to come here. The lovely vibe, alone, is priceless.
St Mark's Anglican Thrift Shop is located at 2 Wilson Street in Bassendean, behind the old church. It's open from 9.30am until 12 noon from Monday until Friday, as well as on the last Sunday of each month (except in December when they're held on the last Saturday evening before Christmas), when the Old Perth Road Markets are held in Bassendean. On market days, the shop sells yummy homemade cakes and preserves, as well as all the shop's usual wares. For more information, call 08 9279 8761.
Rockingham Uniting Church Op Shop
This cute little place is located in an old house, close to the Rockingham foreshore and just a short stroll from the beachside parklands. Although it seems quite small from the outside, it's actually much larger than it initially appears, with a wide range of pre-loved goodies, including furniture out the back. Unlike the bland chain-store vibe of many larger stores, this little place has a friendly beach-shack mood, and lots of great treasures beautifully displayed - just waiting to be rediscovered and taken home. All the regular op shop miscellanea can be found here – clothes, books, kitchen ware, glassware, pottery, books and plenty of other surprises.
Rockingham Uniting Church Op Shop is situated at 169 Parkin Street in Rockingham. It's open from 10.00am until 3.30pm, from Monday to Friday, and from 10.00am to 12.30pm on Saturdays. To find out more, check out this website or call 08 9527 4660.
Since small locally-run opportunity shops such as those mentioned above are often unknown outside their local area, I'm certain there are plenty more, hidden away in quiet corners of Perth. These are just a handful which I've personally visited. A couple others that I've heard of, although I've never been, are those run by Mundaring Anglican Church (9.00am – 12 noon on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays), Gosnells Uniting Church, Carlisle Uniting Church (open on Wednesdays) and Forrestfield Uniting Church (9.00am – 12 noon on Thursdays and Saturdays). Go to the church websites or give them a call to find out more, including addresses and other details.
If you're aware of any other places that I haven't mentioned and could do with some extra publicity, please let our readers know in the comment box next to this article. A final word – if you have any good-quality unwanted items at home, please consider donating them to one of these stores as you make your way around Perth, on your op-shopping safari. Being small establishments, they don't get the huge amount of donations that larger charity stores receive, and would definitely appreciate whatever you can share.
Best op shop in Northern Suburbs is Community Care Pre -Loved Clothing Shop 19 Scaphella Ave Mullaloo, Tues - Sat 9am-1pm
It also sells books, records household items.
Fabulous clothing, great evening/ball gowns at down to earth prices.
Only op shop I know where you can get a free cup of tea or coffee.
All funds go back into the community.
Most small Op Shops offer similar items to the larger, prominent charity stores, at far better prices. With lower expenses, the funds they raise go directly to and reach people who need help. Many larger stores are franchised, pay high overheads (like rent to be in shopping centres) and little of what they raise reaches people they claim to help. Op-shopping forever!