In a day and age when everything seems disposable and temporary the role of your local op-shop is even more imperative now than it ever was. With the ‘fast fashion’ becoming more prevalent it’s time we all took a step back and looked at our consumer habits and question whether they are healthy – both for us and the environment.
Too often we get caught up in the “I want, I need” mentality of shopping which inadvertently leads to a wardrobe that is brimming with clothes and shoes that we hardly ever wear. Yet at the time of buying it we really thought it was a necessity. This excessive accumulation of ‘stuff’ is quite worrying (yes, I consider myself an offender as well). We no longer shop seasonally like our parents used to, we now consider shopping a social event, a competitive sport, a daily habit. The result is a pile of shoes we never wear and drawers full of tshirts with the tags still on. In fact I recently read an interview with Paris Hilton where she spoke about the movie The Bling Ring, which is based on a series of robberies in LA of celebrities homes. The accused were a group of rich kids themselves that stalked celebrities on social media to see when they weren’t home and then proceeded to rob their homes- usually their wardrobes. In fact when they broke into Paris Hilton’s house and took a stack of her shoes, she said she didn’t even notice. The thieves came back 5 times before anyone realised any stuff was missing. Initially I thought this was ridiculous- how can you not notice your shoes are missing?! Sure Paris probably has a wall of Blahniks but really- 5 times? Then I thought about my own wardrobe and under bed storage of shoes and boots. If someone crept in and took 3 pairs of heels that are under my bed would I notice straight away? Absolutely not. I would notice only when I had somewhere to go and needed to pull them out from their dust collecting spot under the bed. Which is why I can excuse and even understand Paris’ shock at the thought of people rummaging through her designer walk in wardrobe and her not even realising. It’s not that hard to comprehend. Can you seriously account for every piece of clothing you own and it’s whereabouts at anytime of the day? If you can then I sincerely congratulate you- you my friend are a rare species. For the rest of us…hear this…WE HAVE TOO MUCH STUFF!
Which brings me to today’s post- the local op-shop. I’ve been volunteering at St.Bartholomew’s Op Shop for many years now and I can happily say it’s one of the most rewarding volunteer jobs I’ve ever had. I love being part of the comings and goings of the local community. I know my customers by name and most of their life stories too. In fact for a lot of them, the op-shop visit is the only social outing they have. They can come in, sit down and read a book, have a cup of tea and share their stories with someone who has time to listen. I’ve seen quite a few local faces come and go over the years and they’ll all be remembered for the kindness and generosity they showed me. With their words of advice on child rearing, the sharing of favourite recipes and the gentle pat on the shoulder when I needed it most (especially from you dear Lorna).
The demographics of the op shop customer is changing though. The dear old men and lovely ladies who used to wander through looking for a bargain on the bric-a-brac stand are slowly being outnumbered by the young ones. I’m qualified to call them young ones as I probably own shoes that are older than they are! They are the young hipsters that are coming in to buy a $5 jacket and $5 pair of Nobody jeans. They know their brands and they know a bargain when they see one. Unlike some bigger shops that have become very commercial, we are still a little church run op-shop and our prices reflect that. We do not pay for staff or visual merchandising so you are still able to buy a whole outfit for less than $30, including shoes. In fact 2 young men were in today and bought themselves shoes, jeans, jackets a couple of beanies and a Margaret Fulton cookbook all for $50!
But why, you may ask, am I promoting op-shopping when I earlier stated we all have too much stuff? Because op-shopping is environmentally friendly- it saves all these wonderful items from becoming land fill. It’s also a place you can donate your unwanted ‘stuff’ to and help break the cycle of constant consumerism. If you’re after a particular jacket or even a set of wine glasses, check out your local op-shop first. Chances are you’ll find it there, usually brand new with tags still on. And while you’re looking for one thing I guarantee you will usually come across a treasure you just have to have!
Check out some of the treasures on display at the moment:
Are you an op-shopper? Which ones are your favourites? Come and say hi some time- St.Bartholomew’s OpShop- 290 Burnley street Richmond. X