If you’ve been hanging around for a while, you’ll know I’m always banging on about op shops (and if you’ve just joined in: this is a quick heads-up that I’m always banging on about op shops). I’ve written about op shopping instead of unpacking after moving house. I’ve written about getting super old stuff for free because it looked like scrunched up newspaper. I’ve even written about finding the perfect mug in an op shop in the middle of a roadtrip.
But why do I keep going on about op shops? What’s so good about them?
It’s easier to ask what’s not good about them. That’s a much shorter list and it goes like this:
1. Sometimes they’re shut.
That’s it. The worst time of the year is that gap between Christmas and mid-January when you just can’t tell if an op shop’s going to be open. The rest of time, they are glorious shrines of mystery, beckoning me to venture inside on a search for something that I didn’t even know I needed.
Back when I started op shopping, I knew exactly what I needed: clothes for my first library job. Then I went on to needing lots of sewing and knitting stuff and the op shops provided. I found hundreds of vintage knitting patterns (I’m not even joking here – I’m actually a little scared to know how many I have and they’re stored in separate locations about the house to deal with this mild fear). I found more old sewing patterns than I could ever need. I stocked my craft library and I added to my fabric stash.
And now I know that I probably don’t need that stuff any more; that I possibly have enough craft stuff. Well, except for bias binding – you can’t have enough of that.
So now, after a quick rummage for the aforementioned bias binding, I find myself visiting the other treasures op shops have to offer; treasures I’ve overlooked for the past couple of years. Books (that aren’t about sewing). Awesome Tupperware (see below). Old stuff that just looks good.
Instead of searching for the oldest knitting pattern in the country, I’m currently searching for a set of wine glasses and a chest for the end of the bed. We used to have a set of wine glasses, but each one held roughly half a bottle of wine and as much as we love our friends, we don’t really have that sort of budget for alcohol. We either had to economise on friends or wine and I feel we made the right choice when we bid those glasses farewell.
As for the chest at the end of the bed… We’re in the middle of Summer and that means we don’t really need our quilt, except when we occasionally do, thanks to the indecisive weather we have around here. And I’m grown up enough (just) to think that it would be nice if the quilt could be folded up on a chest at the foot of the bed instead of folded on the floor, where the cats think we’ve made them up a rather comfortable cat bed. We could also put our spare sheets in the chest, thus freeing up vital room for various card and board games in our linen press.
Basically, this change in needs has brought a whole new appreciation of op shops. They truly do have everything. I don’t need to give up the only type of shopping I enjoy just because I’m searching for homewares instead of sewing patterns!
When I took my mum to trawl through the op shops of Benalla, I was able to enjoy them on a whole different level. And I brought home a whole bagful of goodies as well, of course. Here’s what I purchased, for a grand total of $33.50.
Cheese Board Set: $5
We eat a lot of cheese in this house. Possibly too much. Regardless, this is going to go perfectly with that set of wine glasses once I find it!
Zip: 50c & Ribbed Navy Stockings: $1
There’s another haberdashery item I always need: a stash of zips. Op shops are full of them. They also tend to have a fabulous stash of stockings and I am partial to a good pair of ribbed stockings. These are a dark navy and will go perfectly with the dresses I’ve been making over the past year.
Photo Frame: $1
I’m starting a new job at the end of this month and I bought this frame in the hopes that I’ll have a desk with space for it. The only tricky bit is choosing just three photos to put inside.
Striped T-shirt: $5 & Pink T-shirt: $3
You can never have too may t-shirts, can you? I have a couple I’m planning to sew before Summer is over but I thought these two would be lovely additions to my current collection, which features a bit too much black and grey.
I have an iron, but it’s not fabulous, so why not try a vintage iron? Turns out, it’s a little scary. It heated up in no time flat and it stayed that way for quite a while, even after I’d turned it off. I… kind of love it, though. It’s currently at my parents’ place so my dad can check it out and make sure the thermostat’s working properly. Even if it turns out I can’t use the iron, it will still make a fabulous decorative piece. Or a pattern weight.
(My mum actually bought this one since I had no cash and we were in a technology-challenged op shop. Thanks, ma!)
Tupperware Picnic Set: $8
This ties with the iron for my favourite find, and not just because it made my mum incredibly jealous when I came up to show it to her. It’s a gorgeous little Tupperware lunch set with four containers inside, two of which are original with two ring-ins that still fit.
I think it will be perfect for taking my lunch to work, especially if I leave out some of the containers so there’s room for an ice-block.
There’s barely a sewing-related item in that whole bunch (well, OK, two) but I’m still delighted with my bag full of goodies. And that’s why I love op shops so much, because it honestly doesn’t matter how much my needs change – op shops will always be there for me.
Except when they’re shut.
Are you an op shopper (or thrifter) too? What was your favourite of my finds this time around? Let me know in the comments below – I’d love to hear from you.