Op shopping is rapidly becoming the next big thing in retail with Australians making more than 40 million transactions through charity op shops every year. So why do we love our op shops so much?
People head to op shops for a variety of reasons. Many people shop there to save money or because they love the idea of supporting a charity shop that helps vulnerable members of our community. Some love treasure hunting for hidden gems at bargain prices, while some people want to buy recycled clothing to help the environment.
Whatever the reason, today’s op shops have evolved to offer something for almost everyone. Here are six reasons to head to your nearest op shop:
1. Op shops save you money
Helping people save money was the original reason op shops first started back in the global economic depression of the 1890s. Communities@Work’s op shop, Best Dressed Store, located in South.Point, Tuggeranong, is making a name for itself for providing quality work clothes at bargain prices.
“Our upmarket op shop specialises in quality clothing and accessories for people to wear for work – that’s our niche,” says store manager Trevor Gilbertson.
“We pride ourselves on maintaining a really high standard of product and stock a wide range of fashion labels including Anthea Crawford, Laura Ashley, Liz Jordan and Diana Ferrari.
“Around 15 per cent of our stock is brand new. So why pay $300 for a three-piece designer outfit when you can get it for $30?”
2. Helps charity programs
Most op shops are not-for-profit and use the income they make to run community programs to help people experiencing hardship. Communities@Work supports more than 20,000 people each year with food, clothing, accommodation and crisis support.
When customers make secondhand purchases at Best Dressed Store, they help to keep Communities@Work’s two community food pantries stocked with essential items.
3. Treasure hunting is fun
In the 1960s, op shops began to lose their image of being only for the poor and they began to attract ‘opportunity shoppers’. This was the start of treasure hunters – people who love the thrill of scouring racks to see what hidden gems they can unearth, and where the search is just as much fun as the purchase.
4. Find your unique style
Some shoppers don’t like the latest fashion and find their perfect outfits in op shops instead. Op shops have clothes from many eras and seasons, with character and quirkiness, so you don’t have to look the same as everyone else.
5. It’s better for the environment
In recent years, consumers have become more environmentally aware of the impact of buying new clothing and discarding old items. Every year, Australians buy, on average, 27kg of clothing each, and collectively dump six tonnes of textiles into landfill every 10 minutes.
Op shops divert more than 588,000 tonnes of clothing away from landfill each year, offering a way to reduce our carbon footprint. Donating clothes increases the positive environmental impact, not to mention being a great way to declutter wardrobes.
6. It’s ethically better
Consumers have also become more ethically conscious. Buying pre-loved clothes helps to break the reliance on fast fashion – cheap, poor quality clothes. Instead of your money supporting overseas sweatshops, it goes to supporting local charities and their vital work.
Like most stores in Canberra, Best Dressed Store was closed for three months due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. It reopened in early July with a raft of safety procedures to keep customers and shop volunteers safe. The reopening means the store can once again support Communities@Work’s food pantries and help the Canberra community.
“We were pleased with the number of customers – new and old – who came through our doors on opening day,” says Trevor. “In fact, our very first customer was a client from our clothing program, to who we had supplied clothes to help her confidently attend a successful job interview.
“It’s lovely to see community support working both ways.”
Best Dressed Store is open Monday to Saturday, downstairs opposite JB Hi-Fi at South.Point in Tuggeranong.
For more information about the store or Communities@Work’s community support programs, visit its website or phone 02 6293 6500.