Bonding in a Charity Store

For those of us raising families, charity stores can be a great money saving option. You can get clothes for all ages and sizes, books, kitchenware, furniture and even shoes at bargain bonanza prices. It’s a great way to obtain products that you may need (or want) and not break the budget, therefore leaving funds for all the other expenses that kids need such as school fees, groceries or the children’s extra-curricular commitments! (It costs a lot for kids to learn and develop skills as it turns out!) Unfortunately for me, I’m not always great at locating the impressive bargains at thrift stores.

One of my dearest friends is Belinda from Bbeingcool. Belinda and I went to university together. We were such good friends that she was even a bridesmaid at my wedding.

And here I am at her wedding. Vintage B & C.

Belinda is an op-shopping guru. It’s true! Even Nikki Parkinson at Styling You says so! On her very awesome blog, she has heaps of advice on thrifting, like Why you should op-shopRules for op-shopping and Op-Shopping on Holidays. After being jealous of many the very cool things Belinda buys, I thought I might have more luck if she supervised me during a charity store visit. So, I booked in some girl time, left the kids with Miss Rachael and we went Op-Shopping!

I have to say, I went with high expectations and really hoping I could pick up some bargains. One thing I was really looking for was an art table that would seat all the children comfortably at once. Alas, even with B as my good luck charm, this did not come to pass.

But Belinda did have an eye for picking out some lovely clothes. This little sheer top has been a really great little number for wearing during the day, and I always get compliments when I wear it.

Belinda was telling me after we had flicked (unsuccessfully) through a rack labelled as Designer clothes, that often the volunteers who price the clothing don’t know their labels and she will often pick up bargains in the general section. She hadn’t even finished when she found a lovely linen jacket by Flower. (Which I must admit, I wasn’t familiar with that brand either, but you can tell that it is high quality.) Unfortunately for B, it didn’t fit her – but guess who it did fit? Score!

Here I am hanging out with the lady in question at our monthly bookclub get together. I love our bookclub, especially since this is my best way to see Belinda regularly because we still live in the same town, but now we schmooze in totally different circles most of the time.

 The pleats at the back is my favourite aspect of this jacket. It’s not a brilliant photo, but you can kind of see what I’m talking about.

Even though I scored the cute jacket, Belinda went home as proud as punch because she snaffled a pair of Vivien Westwood shoes! Now, shoes are something my mother always told me to never wear second hand. However, B has quite sensible rules about buying shoes from op shops that I think my mother would even approve of.

On the day in question, we were thrifting at a store in a better area of town, (Good tip for increasing your likelihood of finding some quality items) when I actually heard Belinda yelp. Her hand shot out and grabbed as she declared, “They’re mine” and hugged them to her body. I didn’t stand a chance, just as well we are different shoe sizes. Here she is showing off her shoes to the other ladies at bookclub. Can’t you just see how proud she is?

They were a great buy. These shoes have a hefty price tag when purchased brand new, so even though $40 was a lot to pay for a pair of second hand shoes, they were still a bargain, especially since they looked unworn and still came in the original box.

Not everything I bought was a success. I bought a whole heap of frames with plans to paint them and frame the children’s artwork in their craft room. Once home, I realised that I should have been looking at more than just the condition of the actual frame. Most were missing hanging hooks and some had wonky back pieces. I probably won’t use them. Also a bought a black and grey striped skivvy. It was a good brand, was a flattering cut and comfortable to wear, but it was…well a skivvy! I voiced concern at the time, but Belinda said it looked good and skivvies are classic. But then when I wore it in public, I felt circa 1990’s. So, I’m afraid it is in a pile to get donated back to the charity store. (Just as well it was cheap!) I’m sure there is some skivvy looking person out there who defies current trends!

So after a couple of hours thrifting under B’s tutelage here are:

C’s Tips for Op Shopping
1. Be on the lookout for good brands
2. Walk past the undies in second hand stores. (Seriously, who does buy second hand panties? There are rules people!)
3. Check out the homewares. (I bought some cute vintage Tupperware.) But do a thorough quality inspection.
4. Listen to your gut when you have doubts. Even if it means ignoring the advice of a guru. (Sorry B!)
5. Try things on for size. (I would have bought a beautiful dress in my size, but when I tried it on, I discovered it was made for a lady who is bigger busted than I.)
6. Bring a friend! It’s always nice to have a second opinion, great to have another’s eyes to spot for you and a great way to enjoy one another’s company.

At the end of our expedition.

So, are you a charity shopping goddess? Or do you struggle to find an op-shopping bargain? Share your stories below! Do you have a long time friend? What do you do when you hang out together now?

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  1. Op shopping is good. Of course, it’s still clothes shopping, and I’ll never enjoy that.

    I’d cheerfully hire a personal shopper, but I probably wouldn’t like what they got, since I have my own list of clothes rules!

    I don’t wear animal print fabric.
    I don’t wear anything with ‘maxi’ in its title.
    I don’t wear bows, pleats, or slits where bows, pleats, or slits shouldn’t be…

    Etc. I would be annoying to shop for!

    1. Possibly you may be annoying, but perhaps a personal shopper would get a thrill in the chase. Either that or you would get excellent value from the money you spent because you are such a hard customer!

  2. Last week I bought a very cool Tupperware jelly mould with interchangeable mould prints (never seen these before) from one of my fav op shops! I must have been so excited by my purchase it helped me go into labour later that day!!! Thats how much I love op shopping!

    1. Yard sales are another site where I can have terrible luck. But when you hit the jackpot, it’s sweet! I have a friend who will turn up ultra early and literally run to beat others to a garage sale (Aussie terminology). She’s normally such a sweet demure lady – go figure!

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