It's no secret that I love exploring op shops and have my favourite local ones I regularly pop into to see what's new.
I've found wonderful little treasures ranging from bone china Victoria and Albert Museum cups, French designer tea pot complete with milk jug and cups with sauces, silk skirts, charming dishes, blue and white pottery plant containers, an old pine desk that painted up beautifully and looks wonderful with the vintage draw handles I put on it and the list goes on.
But there are a few tricks to op shopping so I thought I'd share some of them with you.
10 Top Op Shopping Tips
Op Shopping Tip 1.
Be ready to be surprised. Have a look through the different sections with an open mind and eye. You might go in looking for a good novel and come out with a silk designer skirt.
Op Shopping Tip 2.
You can find some great quality designer clothes that might only need some altering or a visit to the dry-cleaners - if they're classic cuts, vintage pieces, this can be far more affordable than hunting down a brand new suit that is current for only a season or two.
Op Shopping Tip 3.
When doing a spot of clothes shopping go for what catches your eye - good patterns, quality fabrics, stylish cuts, flattering designs. It's fine to go for pieces that are a tad too big and can be altered but avoid the ones that are too small and you'll fit in the future.
Op Shopping Tip 4.
If in doubt about a piece let it be, it's meant for someone else.
Op Shopping Tip 5.
Take your own shopping bag and get into the groove of recycling and upcycling!
Op Shopping Tip 6.
If it's furniture you're after look for quality and think about what a coat of paint or new upholstery would look like. Reupholstering a chair can be expensive but the quality of the workmanship of 50 years ago is starkly superior to what is commonly available today. While making new cushion covers for a cane lounge is cheap and creates a whole new look.
Op Shopping Tip 7.
Enjoy the experience, the volunteers can be absolutely charming ladies who have beautiful stories to tell. Personally I really enjoy having a chat with these ladies and a warm smile goes a long way to getting it started. My old journalism professor firmly believed that everyone has a story to tell and he was completely right.
Op Shopping Tip 8.
Many op shops have a constant turn over of goodies, with new bags full of treasures arriving every day so it pays to regularly visit favourite op shops to see what's there.
If you're going to be coming home with bags of treasure then be sure to have a regular clean out yourself and take books and what-nots in yourself - it's a great excuse to have another look round!
Op Shopping Tip 9.
There can be quite a difference between op shops in quite a small area so be ready to explore and see what they focus on.
Some op shops are more expensive than others. There are three local Vinnies I like to visit and one of them has particularly well priced books while another has cheap prices on their kitchen wares - cups etc. While they are the same organisation the volunteers price things differently.
Op Shopping Tip 10.
Some are very well organised while others are a little shambolic. Fabulous finds can be discovered simply by looking through that pile. A girl friend of mine found a simply stunning quilt cover tucked away in a corner that must have been there for ages but she dug away and was rewarded.
Upcycling with Op Shop Treasures
If you love upcycling you'll love hunting through your local op shops like Vinnies, the Sallys and Goodwill but you'll have to be adaptable with your ideas or else be ready to visit quite a few for just that ideal piece for your design.
I've had great success making planting pots out of retro coffee cups by drilling a hole through the base. It turned out a drill press was best suited rather so it held the cup in perfect place while drilling the hole. Now I have a series of these with petite succulents and always get compliments for them.
A friend of mine loves making lamps from his op shop hunts and sells them at market. He has a regular route full of about 10 op shops across more than a dozen Sydney suburbs that he regularly visits.
For one of my projects I needed a series of picture frames, I decided on upcycling ones from the local Vinnies. They had to be no more than $2, all have perfect glass, wood so I could paint them all the same colour and a range of sizes. I got a dozen for $10! I painted them with mistinted paint from the paint shop and I got the result exactly as planned.
Upcycling with op shop treasures lets you put your imagination into gear, creative solutions to making ideas come to life are just as important as finding
Recycling and upcycling from op shops is great for reducing our personal carbon foot print, plus you get the added bonus of having some really interesting conversations with people from all walks of life.
The Joy of Op Shopping
I have some very wealthy girl friends who love op shopping and others who are quite aspirational who think I'm nuts with my little op shop treasures. Personally, I love the hunt, the creative solutions and the bargains. It all satisfies something deep inside me and I'm sure it harks back to those hunter-gather days!
Luckily for me it's all now seen as vintage style to upcycle and recycle op shop finds.
Either way, shopping at your local Vinnies, Salvation Army, hospital auxiliary or CWA op shop is a great way to have some fun, be green and socially responsible and all in one go!
If you want to find out more about going green with eco-fashion and vintage fashion check out our list of fashion blogs!