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Ten Things You Should be Looking for in Op Shops

Home > Sydney > Charity | Cheap | Craft | Hobbies | How To | Lists
by Bloom and Breeze (subscribe)
Life’s too short. I’m not.
Published June 8th 2020
Memories of a pro op shopper
Op shopping might not be everyone's favourite activity, however, if you keep browsing the thrift stores often and find fantastic bargains, you might get hooked.

Here are the items I never pay retail:

1) Pilar Candles

Candles are on the darkest and most forgotten shelves of op shops. It seems that not many people consider thrifting them; I sure wasn't, until the day that I decided to do some decorations for a birthday party. The design I had in mind, being inspired by beautiful Pinterest photos, needed a lot of candles.

As the cheapest (also the smallest) candle I could find was around $2, my design turned out to be more expensive than I initially thought. Refusing to change my design, I tried my luck at local op shops and voila! I found a sufficient number of candles (most of them unused and in their original wrapping) to execute my design without spending a small fortune. Depending on the thrift store, I found candles from 50 cents to $3 (for a pack of 5).

I also thrifted some wine glasses (20 cents each from Fusion Op Shop) and repurposed them as candle holders.

Candles and wine glasses are from op shops

2) Cheese board / Grazing board

Grazing boards and cheese boards are very popular. Many people buy their boards and try grazing, but find out it is more difficult than it seems, or it's not their cup of tea.

Sadly, many grazing boards end up in op shops after their first party. If you are a master tray designer or a newbie, you must check out an op shop for your next grazing board to entertain your guests. I have a few in different sizes and they have been the centre of attention at parties since I salvaged them from thrift stores.

All boards and trays are from thrif stores

3) Party Supplies

Cookie cutters, cake decoration supplies, teddy bear, dinosaur, butterfly-shaped cake pans, cupcake trays, etc. can be bought in excellent to good condition in op shops. If you need an extra Esky for your upcoming party, more glasses, a drink dispenser, or a punch bowl, you should consider buying secondhand. You'd save some money and you don't need to worry about them being broken by accident too much.

4) Planters and Pots

I love growing succulents, and I love buying my succulents new pots, just like I love to buy myself new clothes. (Technically succulents to pots are more like me to a house, not clothes, but I can't change my house as often as my outfits, or can I?)

Where was I? Oh, yes, pots! You guessed right, I thrift my pots. Sometimes I even buy beautiful mugs, teapots, cups, and bowls and transfer them into planters and pots. I am also in search of wooden toys, small toy cars, and trucks to repurpose them to pots. Just think of the endless possibilities! Make sure to create draining holes at the bottom of the items you intend to repurpose as pots.

Bowls and tea cup from op shops re-purposed to pots

5) Home Decors and Artworks

Interior design trends rise and become obsolete very quickly. Last week it is macramé and boho design, this week all gold and glamour, and who knows what trend will come next. That's why so many home stying items end up in charity shops while they are still in great shape.

I decorated my house when I moved in and I don't change my entire home design with each interior design trend. However, I am always on the lookout for decorative items that complement my home's style. And the op shops are the best places to find unique artworks or beautiful decorative items on a budget. One of our rooms is decorated with wooden masks from all over the globe and most of them are thrifted.

Thrifted wooden masks

6) Flower vases
I am sure the beautiful flowers don't mind equally beautiful secondhand vases. Flower vases can be found in op shops in different sizes and styles and are usually very cheap, just be patient in your browsing and you'll find your next favourite vase. Keep an open mind though, sometimes, you're able to spray paint a vase to match your required colour palette.

7) Christmas/ Easter/ Halloween decorations

If you wish to change your Christmas decorations every year and you don't want to break the bank or settle for the cheap dollar store decorations, head to your local op shop. Many people have donated their previous year's decorations and you'd be pleasantly surprised by the unique items that you can find. They are usually cheaper than dollar stores and sometimes you can fill up a bag of decorative items for as low as a dollar.

The same goes for decorative Easter eggs, cute baskets, Easter bunnies, and other Easter decorations and scary masks, wigs, face paint, and decorative pumpkin lanterns for Halloween.

8) Organisers

Wicker baskets, jewellery, makeup, and desk organisers can be found in every op shop and they are a fraction of the retail price. I use wicker baskets for organising and tidying up around the house, like storing blankets, magazines, toys, and anything messy that needs to be contained and look beautiful. The good thing is that you can spray paint the wicker baskets to match your home (I am a fan of spray paints, as you can tell).

In every op shop, you can find several beautiful carved wooden boxes to store your jewellery and watches or just use them as a decorative item.

9) Craft Supplies

If you are a craft lover or a DIY person, you should check your local thrift store very often. It seems that people take up hobbies or start craft projects, but they never finish, so their craft supplies end up in the op shops. I usually check the craft part for ribbons and lace trims for present wrapping. Beads, felt, yarns and crochet and knitting needles are the other items that can be bought cheaply at thrift stores.

Flower fairy made from thrifted craft supplies

10) Picture Frames

A photo wall is one of the interior design trends that has been around for a while and hasn't become old-fashioned yet. So, I decided to create my own photo wall and carefully picked my frames from different thrift stores. I wanted the frames to be in different sizes, textures and colours, however, I found out that for the best result in a photo wall design, the frames should have the same thickness.

What are your best op shop finds?

All picture frames are from op shops
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Why? For the love of sustainability
When: Whenever you have 5 minutes to pop in a thrift store
Where: Any thrift store
Your Comment
My 'best' op shop find was the ugliest devilled egg plate which I gave to a good friend for her 70th birthday (intended as joke!). She said she "loved" it (being polite, no doubt). Sadly her husband broke it when it "accidently fell on the floor".
I have since replaced it with much 'prettier' plates- one for her and one for me.
Whenever I'm travelling I always visit an op shop looking for replacement plates from a dinner set which belonged to my mother, the plates that I broke as a teenager. It seems these 'retro' pieces are as rare as 'chooks teeth'!
by Gloria (score: 2|539) 797 days ago
My favourite find comes regularly at a local op shop that receives new shoes that are end-of-line from a nearby shoe shop. For $20 I get new shoes with a ticket price of 5 to 7 times that much.
by ozham (score: 0|8) 796 days ago
My issue with op shops is that when I take in a box of donations and drop them up the back of the shop for sorting I have to walk past all their stock and items. Invariably I walk out with another tea cup, vase or something I never knew I 'needed'.
Beside Op shops being environmentally beneficial they all raise money for some great causes and provide work and voluntary positions for many people. It's win, win, win.
Nice btw.
by emare (score: 1|59) 796 days ago
i find the salvo and vinnie shops are often more expensive than kmart as a lot of their goods are from there originally for the home
by shars (score: 0|2) 796 days ago
My best find was a pair brand new nine west shoes.
by nnass (score: 0|2) 796 days ago
which ones should I mention ? I had scored so many fantastic outfits from the op shops that i rarely buy retail anymore. Also decorative items and vases are my favorite to buy from op shops and I love spray painting them to match my house decore.
by Bloom and Breeze (score: 0|9) 795 days ago
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