This morning I had a little time (and no kids) on my hand so I went to our local opshop. I came out with a bag of items which should get me through the changing season. I love opshops and I’m a frequent costumer. Today I want to share a few lessons I’ve learned over the years with regards to opshops and second hand shopping for clothes at stores.
Although I don’t suggest you do what I do and get bags and bags of clothing every time you go into a store. However, going regularly is important. Opshops, in particular the good ones, generally have a higher turn around than regular clothing stores (excluding giants like H&M). Because they don’t ‘stock’ clothing in the common sense of the meaning, good items sell out faster. This ‘sell out’ means that you can’t rely on fashionable items in your size to be available all the time.
Every store will have different rotations of things. Sometimes there are clear ‘sale’ signs, sometimes stock is moved between outlets, sometimes it is simply thrown away. In order to find some good bargains you will need to go often and check new stock.
Shop in advance
Shopping in opshops should be done in advance rather than at the last second. Unless you have access to a very large store with a broad variety of stuff, there is no guarantee that the item you’re looking for is available.
In particular for kids clothes I have the rule of buying things when I see them, whether they fit at the time or not. I have a large box in my kids’ bedroom where I keep items that were too large at the time of buying them. Whenever I need something I check that box. That way I know I have something already rather than having to hunt at opshops.
The advantage of the advance-shopping-system is that it saves the search. Buying things for later (and remembering that you have them!) means that they can come out when they are needed. If they turn out not to be used, I return them to the store as a donation.
I admit, the advance shopping is not the most ecological idea. However, if you shop second hand exclusively it saves energy in the long run. It means that you don’t have to go (i.e. drive) to every single store to find one specific item.
However, when I mean shopping in advance, I don’t mean bags and bags of clothing. One or two items at a time are sufficient to build up a supply.
Shop for pleasure, not necessity
Opshops have a potential yucky-factor. There are some stores I don’t like because they are dirty and smell. Others are better sorted and more pleasant to shop at. I avoid the former.
In general I would never advise anyone to go to an opshop who doesn’t want to. Shopping for second hand items should be pleasure and enjoyable. After all, second hand shopping means to look through (potentially) mountains of stuff. Doing this in an environment you’re not comfortable in is not a good experience.
It also helps if you don’t have to find a specific item. As I said above, shopping second hand for something specific can be daunting. In cases of necessity it’s a good idea to check the local opshop first but there is no use to get annoyed because the store doesn’t have one specific item.
Feel good about yourself
When you buy something second hand it means that you are reducing landfill. I find it helpful to keep this in mind when I get frustrated.Reducing landfill has a number of nice side effects, in particular minimising the stress of clothes production on natural resources and workers.
Opshops also hold treasures sometimes. A few weeks ago I found a top for one dollar which would have cost one hundred dollars new. This not only saves me money but it also gives the item a second life.
Most opshops in my area are charity run. Every time I spend money in the shop I support their causes. It’s one of the many reasons why I go opshopping.
I enjoy opshopping and would encourage anyone to give it a try. It takes time and a good eye but it is rewarding, not just financially. Opshopping is a great way of bringing diversity into your closet and trying out styles. And it also feels great when you can answer the question about your top with “Oh, I got that from the opshop for a dollar!”