There’s nothing quite like digging through an op shop looking for a hidden gem, unique clothing item, or valuable homeware. If you love scoring a bargain, enjoy the thrill of the hunt, or simply want to save money on everyday bits and pieces, head to your local op shop.
Local op shops continually have new stock to explore. And you’ll be shopping to support a good cause since op shops are run by charitable organisations to raise money for those in need.
In this article, we’ll outline the qualities to consider when choosing an op shop, and share where to find the best in Canberra.
What makes a great op shop?
While all op shops provide a valuable service to our community, some are better stocked than others.
It can be helpful to keep the following in mind when choosing an op shop.
- Great range. The best op shops have a huge range of products, including clothing, homewares, furniture, toys, books, art and décor items.
- Quality. Second-hand items in op shops don’t equate to poor quality, broken items. Most op shops only sell quality items that don’t need repair.
- Good prices. Charity-run op shops offer good prices for products. That doesn’t always mean “direct cheap”, but you can routinely pick up bargains at most op shops.
- Organised. The majority of op shops have a huge amount of stock. The best are organised with items well laid out by category so you can navigate stock with easy.
- Convenient. You’ll want an op shop that’s near to you and one with open hours that are convenient.
The best op shops in Canberra
Riotact’s editorial team has combed through 20 years of on-site comments to compile a list of the most recommended businesses according to you.
To be listed in our Best of Canberra series, each business needs to have consistently received positive feedback on Riotact and maintain a minimum average of 4/5 stars on both Google and Facebook reviews.
Rosella Street is an environmentally driven, online shopping marketplace that helps the planet. This community of conscious consumers is redefining ownership, strengthening communities and reducing CO2 emissions. Using Rosella Street helps minimise the environmental impacts of consumerism. It also helps connect local communities.
A safe space, Rosella Street is a great way to buy, sell, donate or rent online. Every user’s identity is verified to ensure a trusted platform. All transactions go through a secure payment system. Each connection finishes with both users reviewing their experience.
Rosella Street provides a guarantee (details on the website).
As an added bonus, every time something is sold or bought, Rosella Street plants a tree. It has partnered with Buymarr, a remote Aboriginal community in Arnhem Land, to support their project to plant bush food trees.
On Google, Susan Carr wrote, “This is a great concept and it’s super easy to use the Rosella Street site.”
Established more than 40 years ago, the Best Dressed Store has a deep and compassionate understanding of the Canberra community. Best Dressed is part of the Communities at Work not-for-profit organisation, which aims to build resilient, sustainable and socially inclusive communities in the ACT.
As Chris wrote on Google, “A truly awesome concept. The Best Dressed Store sells pre-loved and nearly new dressy, special occasion and work ready clothes and accessories, with all funds going to help vulnerable and disadvantaged people in the local Canberra community ... They're also grateful to receive donations of good quality clothes and accessories, with all donations going back to support the community.”
The Green Shed accepts unwanted items and resells them at bargain prices. It has two sheds—Mitchell and Symonston and The Green Shed Underground shop in the city. Items sold at the Underground include clothing, shoes, books, videos, software and household items. The Green Shed donates regular lump sums of $10,000 to local charities. To date it has donated more than $1,000,000 to dozens of charities.
Zach Streatfeild wrote on Google, “Best clothing op-shop in Canberra …”
The Australian Red Cross is about the power of humanity. Donated goods are sold and funds raised support Red Cross teams helping people overcome hardship, crisis and disaster. Stock includes clothing, homewares and gifts. One store is in the city and one in Woden. They’re open through the week and you can also shop online.
Matthew Collett wrote on Google, “Good value clothes and merchandise.”
The Salvos Stores in Fyshwick is one of the biggest op shops in Canberra, spread across two levels. It stocks furniture, clothing, toys, homewares, linens and more. periodically hosts discount ticket days.
On Google, Kuan-Yu Lan wrote, “Has a huge main area for clothing and furniture and a bargain basement for all the other little things that has been sitting around for a while. Very tidy and clean. Staff members are friendly and helpful.”
Vinnies Dickson, a hugely popular op shop, sells second-hand clothing, bric-a-brac, shoes, linen, books and more. Shopping at Vinnies is for a good cause with proceeds going to those who need help. Vinnies also operates shops in Mitchell, Belconnen, Gungahlin and Narrabundah.
On Google, Bucky Seton wrote, “This is the best op shop in North Canberra in terms of the quality of the goods on offer.”
This hidden gem of an op shop, at the Scullin Shopping Centre, is a Mosaic Baptist Church ministry. Another Chance Op Shop is stocked with clean, well-presented clothing, linen, books, toys, kitchen ware and bric-a-brac. Stock is available at affordable prices.
Ian McTaggart wrote on Google, “Fantastic op shop that is clean and reliable with some terrific staff who go out of their way to help customers … Been going there for many years.”
If you’re on the hunt for other second-hand items, you might like our article on the best second-hand furniture stores Canberra has to offer.
Your experience with op shops in Canberra
Thanks to our commenters who have provided insightful feedback, if you believe we have got it wrong, please let us know.
Have you had experience with any of the op shops listed above? If so, share your feedback in the comments below.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is an op shop?
“Op” is short for “opportunity”. Op shops are run by charitable organisations. They sell donated goods to raise money for their cause and those in need. They’re sometimes called charity shops or thrift stores.
What can I find at an op shop?
Op shops typically sell a wide range of donated products to shoppers of all types. While stock varies from store to store, you’ll often find clothing (including vintage), jewelry, homewares, books, some furniture, décor items and more. Some op shops have restrictions on what they’ll accept. They might not want damaged or broken items, electric items, mattresses and baby car seats, prams or cots.
How do I donate to an op shop?
Usually, you can drop off items at the store, in a designated area and during opening hours (some shops have after-hours bins too). It’s best to head online to see what the op shop can’t take since most have restrictions. If you do donate, make sure items are clean and neatly packed. If you have a large piece of furniture, it’s best to call ahead to see what arrangements the op shops prefer.
How do op shops support the community?
Op shops are usually attached to charities and outreach services. They accept quality donations and sell them to raise funds for vital services. This can include for people in need, such as those who don’t have a home to call their own and those who are financially disadvantaged.
What can I donate to an op shop?
Op shops typically accept a wide range of goods, but most have some restrictions. These are usually listed on their website or you can call to check. Some op shops, for example, won’t accept electronics or mattresses. Op shops don’t want broken or damaged goods.