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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Pantry Purge

The Accountant has been a bit frustrated with the state of the pantry. I’m not as worried, I mean sure, it could be neater, but I can mostly find everything – except tea bags, I’m not a tea or coffee drinker and I always lose tea bags and coffee in my pantry. It can really be an embarrasing quirk.

Since it really seemed to be bothering The Accountant, I started to have a shuffle through it and realised that I really do need to have a pantry purge – I’ve found nuts dating back to 2008. Yikes.

Being an Accountant’s wife, it’s important to be thrifty. I tend to buy pantry items when they are on special. If you keep an eye on when things are getting close to finished, and keep on eye on the shelves, you normally don’t have to pay full price. This is normally a great money saving tactic. Unless you forget to use it. Then it’s quite the opposite. Hopefully The Accountant doesn’t notice the packets in the bin at the moment.

I took a photo of the pantry, but I’ve decided that it’s better shown as a before and after. No need to horrify you until there’s a happy ending!

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