These days we are made more aware of numerous causes by the dedication of a day, week or even a month to that cause. As I write we are in the middle of National Op Shop Week here in Australia. This year it is running from Sunday August 27th to Saturday September 2nd. This is the fifth year this event has been held.
The aim of National Op Shop Week is to make people more aware of the ways buying from an op shop benefits the community and environment.
What are other names for 'op shop'? Op shops are also called-
Thrift shops or thrift stores
Who runs op shops? Numerous churches, community houses and charities run op shops. Names such as Vinnies and Salvos are household names. Locations of local op shops can be found online or in the phone book. Sometimes a list can be found at places which offer services to those in need or tourist offices.
Image by Marie Vonow
Some organisations also run a garage sale from time to time to boost sales and perhaps move stock that has been in shops for some time.
Who benefits from the money made by op shops? Each organisation will have specific programs which are supported by the money made from op shop sales. Profits from an op shop fund various programs depending on the organisation and may include-
Those in need in the local community
Victims of domestic violence
Drought relief for farmers
Life skills classes
Education for homeless men
People with disabilities
Drug and alcohol rehabilitation
How does the existence of op shops benefit the environment? When people donate their unwanted clothes, books, china, utensils, books, furniture and other goods to an op shop they are stopping those items from being dumped and ending up as landfill. It should be noted any donated goods need to be clean and in good condition because unsaleable items will still end up as landfill and the charity will have to cover dumping costs.
Only place clean saleable items in charity donation bins Image by Marie Vonow
Changing attitude to op shops In the past there was considerable stigma to buying clothes and other items from op shops. This is changing as people are encouraged to see supporting op shops as a virtue because the money goes to help those in need. The increased interest in 'vintage clothing' has also helped reduce this stigma.
Many op shops are now businesses where clothes are presented to their best advantage on labelled racks in a well lit shop. Crockery and bric-a-brac will be carefully arranged on shelves to encourage purchases. There may even be some nice pieces of furniture on show. There will probably be a nice display of clothing on mannequins in the front window.
There are now op shop tours where shoppers pay a fee to be driven around to several op shops as a social event. Groups of friends may get together and do their own op shop tour. A support group I belong to did this a couple of years ago and we had lots of fun for far less money than if we had shopped at several mainstream stores.
There may be shopping incentives such as a loyalty card, reduced prices for concession card holders on a particular day of the week and half price for items with a yellow, blue or other coloured tag each week.
This is a far cry from the days when op shopping may have involved rummaging through cardboard boxes of creased clothing in a dimly lit hall at the back of a church.