The pleasure of fossicking through an op-shop or vintage store comes from discovering unexpected treasures – whether it’s those pre-loved pieces you won’t see in your local Westfield chain store, or the trinkets you’ll take home to adorn your room. Not only can you save some serious cash, but you’ll ensure you won’t turn up at your pal’s party in the same outfit as anyone else.
littlewren’s editors are no strangers to a morning spent browsing secondhand goods at our favourite local op-shops and we thought we’d share our hot tips.
Here’s how we get the most out of a visit to an op-shop:
Write it down
Make a list of the pieces you’re looking for. It helps to have an idea of your personal style and know what you’ll actually wear. So, what are you looking for? Before you hit the shops, take a peek around your room. Are you looking to decorate your space with some ornaments or artworks? Take some photos of your room so you’ll have a better idea of what will go. Are you looking for clothing? Check inside your wardrobe to see what’s missing and what you’ve already got too much of. Remember, there’s a lot of vintage out there, so think about what era and styles you really like before you leave – it’ll save you time and money!
Know your limits
Nope, we’re not talking about your bankcard’s limits! We’re talking skillz. Sometimes you’ll come across that perfect ‘60s shift dress but it’s just a little too long. In the moment, you’ll envision yourself taking up the hem and making it fit perfectly. If you have a sewing machine, a crafty parent or the skills to make alterations happen, then go for it. But, if you’re realistically going to wind up with a dress you won’t wear hanging in your wardrobe for years (even if it is a bargain), it might be best to leave that one behind for another treasure hunter to find.
Get outside the city
Although nicely curated vintage stores will usually stock beautiful items, often savvy vintage shoppers have cleared out the best items at all the central op-shops before you’ve even finished your breakfast. Sometimes the best places to sift through are in smaller towns, outside of the cities. Not only are these areas meccas for pre-loved fashion pieces and furnishings, but they’re usually more affordable too.
Practise patience and kindness
Ever been shoved out of the way by a too-keen vintage shopper who’s lunging across the rack for that unicorn they’ve spotted in front of you? You really don’t want to be that guy. So – even if you’re in the zone – try to be aware of your fellow shoppers. And, sometimes haggling is welcome at op-shops, but it’s important to assess the situation before you give this a go. If you’re buying something for next-to-nothing at a charity-run store, it’s good to decide before you get to the counter whether you really need to squeeze an extra discount from them. Keep in mind: many charity shops are run by volunteers who’ve generously donated their time to help serve us. So, if you do decide to negotiate, do it with a smile and be reasonable.
To prevent spending more than you’ve budgeted for, set yourself a strict limit and bring only enough cash for the things you hope to find. It’s easy to look at each item in an op-shop as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, but if you don’t have the cash to spend (and many charity stores will only accept cash) you’ll be able to stop yourself!
Finally, enjoy the experience! Even if you don’t have any luck on your trip, have fun on the thrill of the chase!
Do you have some tips you’d love to share on littlewren? Get in touch!