Op Till You Drop!

Well my Buy Nothing Year is going well (Day 33). I haven’t bought anything new other than gifts and consumables. I am struggling a little with free items given to me by others, but more on that later.

Today, let’s talk about SHOPPING. Op shopping, to be precise. For those of you on the other half of the world, I’m talking about charity shops, second hand shops, good will shops, whatever you like to call them.

Australia’s National Op Shop Week started today and runs until August 30th, 2015.

Why this week? The start of spring is the most popular time of year for women to clear out their wardrobes. Nearly a quarter of women sort and de-clutter during September. That means a whole bunch of new stuff appearing in shops, and shopping heaven!

It’s also great timing for the Garage Sale Trail, which will be happening all over Australia on October 24th. If you’re a little behind in your spring clean or you’d like to make some money for your efforts, maybe it’s time to start planning your garage sale.

Here are some scary stats to motivate you to cull your wardrobe:unnamed

  • 62% of women have clothes that have never been worn or still have tags on.
  • 83% of women have clothes that they’ve only worn once or twice.

Luckily, it sounds like we’re already on to it:

  • 97% of Australian women have donated an item to a charity op shop at some point in their lives.
  • nearly 9 out of 10 women (88%) have purchased something from a charity op shop.

Before I started Buy Nothing Year, I did a Buy Nothing New Year. You have no idea how much time I spent on op shops that year. These are my top tips for celebrating National Op Shop Week:

Donate

Op shops aren’t just an easy way to get rid stuff you no longer want. They don’t make their money from the clothes, they make money from the sales. There are way more reasons why it’s better to shop second hand than buy new than I could fit into this post.

If you are donating, remember that anything you give has to be of good quality. Look at the item that you’re donating and ask yourself if you would buy it. Op shops have to do something with all the stuff they can’t sell. Some clothes might be turned into rags, but many items end up being thrown away. Don’t think that an op shop can throw something away just as easily as you can. Charities pay millions every year to dispose of rubbish and unusable ‘donations’. The more they throw out, the more they pay, and the less money they have for a good cause. Don’t be a dumper, be a donor!

The best thing to do is find out what each shop is willing to accept. Look at their website, give them a call, or bring your stuff to them during opening hours. Many charities will also collect items from your home. Check out these tips for how to donate to op shops.

Grab a bargain

You really can’t beat op shop prices. I’m still chuffed with an op shop purchase from a few months back. After already having scored a Cue top and several other fabulous work tops, I felt like a shoplifter upon finding an Alannah Hill top (worth at least $150) on the ‘Manager’s Special’ rack – for 50c! I was sure it was a mistake and had paranoid visions of someone catching me committing this fashion crime. I was certain that the instant I walked out of the store someone would come racing after me, yelling out that it was actually $20!

And you know what? I didn’t pay 50c for it. When the teller added up my purchases and named a price I wasn’t expecting, I felt even more like a criminal. I couldn’t even think clearly enough to do the math. I quickly grabbed my things before they realised and rushed out of the store, only to later realise… I’d been overcharged!! I’d paid $1!!!

I didn’t complain.

But don’t be fooled by the bargain

How many clothes have you bought because they were a steal, and then never (or rarely) wore? Pay attention to your inner dialogue when op shopping (or new shopping). Maybe you could relate to my typical shopping experience, which goes something like this:

“Hmm… this top is alright, I wonder how much it is… $1.25! Wow! That’s amazing! What a bargain, I must have it!”, I think as I quickly pull the top off the rack, miraculously adding it to my hand already holding 12 other items as I madly continue to hunt through the racks.

Later, as I stand frowning at the changing room mirror, the monologue becomes a conversation:

“It’s a bit tight under the bust.”

“Well I have just had a really big lunch. I’m sure it’ll fit once the curry goes down.”

“The straps keep slipping down.”

“I guess I could shorten them,” and as I pinch the straps to see how that might look “Yes, I can sew that up easily”, forgetting I have no sewing skills.

“I’m still not sure about the style.”

“Oh stuff it, it’s $1.25!”, and I rush to the checkout.

I would say that about 10% of my ‘bargains’ are well worn and loved, and make me happy every second I wear them. About 50% are ok – they’ll do. The other 40% annoy the hell out of me. They squeeze or scratch or flop or crease or slip or jab… or just don’t look right. They’re the first to go, but eventually all 90% of my unloved bargains end up being rehomed. So were they really a bargain? Would I have ‘saved’ more by keeping that $1.25 and saving myself the stress of imperfect clothing, clutter, and the ordeal of finding clothes a new home?

I’ve now started asking the same questions for a $1 item as I do for a $100 item. Do I love it? Will I still love it in a month, a year, 5 years? Is it durable? Do I need it? How will I get rid of it when I no longer need it? Is there a better alternative? Do I reeeaally need it? Shop within reason!

Find an op shop

So what are you waiting for? Head down to your local op shop to donate or upgrade your wardrobe or home (I am obsessed with buying old teapots). To find charity shops in Australia, check out this list or search using your postcode.

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I’d love to hear from you. Do you love op shops too? What’s the best/worst/weirdest thing you’ve ever bought?

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2 thoughts on “Op Till You Drop!

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