How To Opshop; Opshopping Hints & Tips.

(Today's opshop finds; brand new red photo frame $1, brand new watercolour paint set for Punk 50 cents, crocheted postcard basket $3, wooden stepping stool $2, BH&G magazines 50 cents each, vintage children's picture dictionary $2, vintage Pyrex bowl $2, vintage Christmas table cloth for a swap $1, funky book "Presents - making them for other people" 10 cents, cute yellow letter holder for Le Punks bedside reads $1.)

Jacqui posted last week about her lack of "thrifting" luck & my reply to her has prompted this post.

Basically, I started off by saying "There are no hard & fast rules to opshopping..." & then proceeded to tell her some rules I live by... so I guess there are some rules... or guidelines at the very least, that make for a happy opshopping experience, I just never really thought of it like that because it's just what I do.

I've also heard lately that I am "...so lucky!" with my oppy finds, but I don't think I am a particularly lucky thrift shopper - just persistent. There are days I go into an opshop & leave with nothing, whereas other days I can barely open the door to go out so laden am I with happy treasures... the thing is though, I enjoy the empty handed days just as much as the days when I find things - I save money for one - but I enjoy the browsing in & of itself.

So, my "Hints & Tips" for opping;

  • Go often & stay long....! I probably visit my local oppies at least twice a week and stay until I've rummaged around in all the nooks & crannies. It helps that I sometimes use it as "me" time too & enjoy the entire process immensely, even if I don't find anything.If you go in often enough, or *shock* ask, you'll find out when "new" stock comes in so you can be there for all the good pickings...!

  • I hardly ever go looking for something in particular, I go in with no expectations & am usually pleasantly surprised. If I am looking for something in particular not only am I disappointed when I don't find it, but I skim over other goodies because they're not my "focus".

  • See a trip to the oppy as a pleasant distraction instead of a desperate shopping expedition & enjoy browsing through everything, racks you would normally breeze by, boxes you would usually ignore, could hold a gem that has been waiting for you!

  • Where to go... that is trial & error unfortunately! City stores vary from full of retro goodness priced sky high to sparsely stocked monoliths with things even the needy would reject. Country stores are generally cheaper, but you'll find some crazy pricing wherever you go - there is a set of old (...and grotty) kitchen canisters in an oppy here that are priced at $50 - you could get some in the same condition cheaper at a secondhand dealer, and anyone who would even consider paying that much for a set would know that, so they have been sitting there for MONTHS. I hear volunteers pricing things sometimes & the mind boggles at their reasoning!I have found however, after years of opping with great success, that the "weird" little oppies are often filled to the brim with treasures, if you're just willing to unearth them! You know the ones, "The Cat Society Thift Shop" or the "Christian Mission Opportunity Shop" or something, I think it has something to do with how they are run, the bigger ones like vinnies have a distribution centre that, well, distributes the goodies amongst it's stores, whereas those ones almost hoard their donations, which is good news for us!

  • If you ARE looking for something in particular, don't be afraid to ask. I have heard people asking for all sorts of weird & wonderful things with varying degrees of success; they may take your name & call you if what you are after comes in (if this is offered to you though I would still go in & check occasionally, in case the promise is forgotten) or they may have something out the back that they are yet to put out.

  • If you have kids, LEAVE THEM AT HOME! It is soooooooo much easier to potter about for ages if you don't have to worry about little hands playing with inappropriate vintage china, but, if, like me, you are rarely child free, you must soldier on!

  • Look EVERYWHERE. I cannot stress this enough. You may not want any books on "Microwave Cooking" (...a subject, it seems, on which many books have been written but not all that many are kept) but if you don't give that shelf a quick once over you can pretty much guarantee that is where your dream book on vintage softies will be nestled. Sometimes volunteers put things in weird places, sometimes kids do a little rearranging & sometimes shoppers with ulterior motives "hide" things they've found for later. Many times I have found delicious vintage jackets turfed in with "Fancy Dress" (how dare they?!).

  • Try. It. On. Unless you plan on a whole lot of refashioning or re-purposing, try on anything you intend to wear. Even $2 is too much to pay for something you can't wear.

  • Don't take big notes - this isn't really a rule but it's a good idea, especially if you've found an awesome something for 50 cents at the afore mentioned Cat Protection Society oppy - do you think they've done enough trade to change that $50 for you? Chances are they could do it, but it's better safe than sorry.

  • Look for potential. I would have never have bought this or this if I didn't think I could make them look much better & make them "mine".

  • Take a bag or 7... they always have plastic bags, but we all know that's a no no in this day & age, even if you aren't environmentally aware, the bags they have are usually donated secondhand bags themselves & are not always pristine - you don't want to loose your funky new bracelet on the way home because your cruddy supermarket plastic bag had a hole in it.

  • And finally... don't get discouraged! Go & go again, browse & browse some more!

Happy opping!!


  1. I found Pip's "Meet me at Mike's" book for $6 the other day. I was so surprised and certainly didn't have expectations for ever finding that!

  2. HOLY MOLY TANYA! That IS lucky! I am so increadibly jealous...!!!

  3. I agree with you “rules” and am so glad you wrote them all down because although I follow the same “rules’ myself I couldn’t have articulated them. I have friends who say I am so lucky opshoping, but I think a big part of it is persistence, you can’t just go once a year and hope to find a heap of treasure.
    I know I shouldn’t go expecting to find just what I am after as it does lead to disappointment, but on occasion when the stars line up and you go with a list in your head and walk out with all of the items on your wish list you really do feel like the luckiest op shopper alive!
    I hope my op shops aren’t planning on charging $5 for jars of buttons like you mentioned your locals are doing, $3 is still the going rate around here although I have paid $4.50 for some lately.
    A new shop I visited lately didn’t even have jars of buttons just heaps of little packets of sets for 20 – 50 cents, I admit it would be much easier than sorting through button jars for sets, but takes all of the romance of the treasure hunt out of looking through a new jar of buttons.
    I love you button charm bracelets by the way, what a lot of work to poke new holes in each button!
    Sorry for the long comment, I shouldn’t have saved up and should have commented on lots of different posts!

  4. What a wonderful list Vic! I abide by the same rules myself, and wish I was able to get there 'child free' more often (ever). My 2 most regular oppies have a toilet, and now EVERY time we're there the kids just have to go... at least I don't need to rush off though ;)
    Today I was in a 'family store' that had a dining suite for $1200! In our area the buttons are all in little sachets too. I love buying a mixed bag of crafty stuff, too much fun :)
    Whoops, crapping on too much...

  5. a great post! i would consider myself an unlucky op-shopper so i must go in next time (and more often) armed with your tips!

  6. Fab finds, and great tips, thank you! I love browsing charity shops (as they're called in the UK) and have found some really cool stuff. I probably follow at least some of your rules without really thinking about it!

    I have to thank you also for your comment on my giveaway. You're right lol, The Hamster is indeed a Duracell Hamster, so I will have to rethink it slightly - he does stop when he meets a wall but that's about it...

  7. How brilliant for you all these lovely finds. I will certainly go armed with your tips - great post x

  8. How brilliant for you all these lovely finds. I will certainly go armed with your tips - great post x

  9. Great tips. I'm an op shopper from way back and totally agree with them. Sadly where i live in Sydney, so many of the op shops have gone all classy. I swear some things are more expensive in the op shops than they would have been new. grrr. I guess it makes me search harder and when i find a bargain it's even better! I LOVE op shops in little country towns. Always full of goodness!

    P.s. I was so excited about the toy society that i made a toy owl yesterday! Waiting for the weather to clear up to 'drop' him. Yay!

  10. Well said Vic! And I second your "HOLY MOLY TANYA!" - I concur! What a find. Hugs, Kat

  11. Hi Vic , I agree with all your guidelines but especially no expectations . Some days are fantastic some well , not so !

  12. Wow! You are such a good blogger. I can't believe how many new post there already are since this one! Go you! :)

    I live in North Sydney and though i am trying to cut down my worldly possession over the next few months for my big move, i may just head up to Asquith and check out those op shops! I know the one you mean near Glebe and my best retro bag in the whole world was purchased there!:)

  13. What great 'rules'!! I do think the being persistent and going regularly one is great. I try to do the rounds every week or so!!!


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