Sometimes we find that large, first-hand stores don’t stock exactly what we’re after. Or perhaps they do, but the prices are far too high. Or maybe you’re after something with a bit of character and history behind it, which you simply cannot get from a brand-new product. So, why not try op shops instead?
There’s nothing quite like digging through an op shop looking for that hidden gem, that unique clothing item, or valuable homeware. If you love scoring a bargain, enjoy the thrill of the hunt, or would like to save on everyday bits and pieces, a trip to the op shop is always fun.
But what should you look for in an op shop? In this article, we’ll outline a few key things to look for in a good op shop, and a list of some of Canberra’s best.
What makes a great op shop?
While all op shops provide a valuable service to our community, some are simply better stocked than others. Here’s what we look for in the best op shops in the region:
- A great range of products. The best op shops have a huge range of products, including clothing, homewares, furniture, kids’ toys, art and collectors’ items – just make sure they’re not sacrificing quality for quantity!
- Good prices. Charity-run op shops always offer fantastic prices for their products. That being said, some up-market vintage and second-hand stores may call themselves ‘op shops’ when, in fact, they charge premium prices.
- A good cause. Op shops rely on donations, and this community-based business model extends to their impact as well – find out what causes the op shop is supporting, and you can feel good about giving your money to a charitable cause.
- Organisation. Given the vast array of products you can find in an op shop, being able to easily navigate the space so you can find what you’re looking for is crucial. Good op shops should be properly organised and presented for your convenience.
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.
Established over 42 years ago, Best Dressed has a deep and compassionate understanding of the Canberra community. Best Dressed is part of the Communities@Work not-for-profit organisation, which aims to build resilient, sustainable and socially inclusive communities in the ACT.
The Best Dressed store generates sustainable and long-term funding for Comms@Work’s Clothing Program, which is responsible for providing financially disadvantaged people with professional and high-quality clothing, shoes and accessories for important events such as job interviews or court appearances – and all for free. All the store’s profits are invested directly back into the community, so not only will you be able to find some hidden treasures here at Best Dressed, but you’ll also be helping the wide community.
As Local Guide and Google reviewer Chris writes, “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 are also grateful to receive donations of good quality clothes and accessories, with all donations going back to support the community.”
Another must-do in Mitchell, The Green Shed isn’t actually an op shop but a huge second-hand store – in fact, it’s one of Canberra’s largest, and is attached to a resource management centre if you have some items you need to dispose of in the same trip. The Green Shed accepts bikes, furniture, clothing, building materials, books, and various homewares and miscellaneous items. The Green Shed is committed to supporting the local community, regularly donating $10k lump sums to dozens of local charities, It’s pretty much impossible to leave The Green Shed empty handed!
As Denise Chen writes in their Facebook review, “Find all sorts of household items, furniture, luggage, toys, books and clothes here at very reasonable prices. Reduce waste, live well.”
The Fyshwick Salvo’s is the biggest op shop in all of Canberra – it’s spread across two whole levels. With an impressive range of furniture, clothing, toys, homewares, linens, and more, you’re sure to find exactly what you’re looking for. What’s more, this Salvo’s often hosts discount ticket days, so you can score a serious bargain.
As Google reviewer and Local Guide Karen Gurney writes in their review, “Wow, this place is fantastic. You will need to experience this store. Upstairs is unbelievable while downstairs is like Aladdin’s cave. I could spend hours there. Staff are fantastic and their prices are fantastic.”
This Vinnies, conveniently located just off Northbourne Avenue, is one of Canberra’s most frequented – and therefore constantly restocked – smaller op shops. They sell second-hand clothing, bric-a-brac, shoes, linen, books and many other items, with only a few exceptions to what items they accept. Vinnies also offers support hotlines and community volunteer work providing food and clothing to disadvantaged folks, so when you shop at Vinnies you know you’re supporting a good cause.
As Eva Warren-Howard writes in their Google review, “Clearly under new management over the last year or so. Quality, layout and atmosphere is 100% improved! Well done.”
If you’re on the hunt for some great bargains and character-filled purchases, check out our article on the best second-hand furniture stores in Canberra for a helpful guide.
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.
Love op shopping in Canberra? Share your favourite stores in the comments section below, so our readers can discover some serious gems.