Opp Shops

I call them “thrift shops”. The Australians call them “opp shops”, short for opportunity shops. In the States, I'm an avid thrifter. I can't remember the last time that I actually bought a new dress or jeans or clothes of any sort other than underwear and the gown for our son's wedding five years ago. Why spend $50-$100+ when I can get a new sundress at a thrift shop for $1 or $2? Plus it's the whole recycling thing. So many good quality clothes and household items are discarded most probably because the owner was sick of them and just opted to buy new. We're a “discard/replace” society.

Part of our frugality mindset is not buying new when we can buy used. I'm talking most everything from cars to boats to Levis to bed linens to pots and pans. As soon as something is purchased and the new owner carries it out of a shop, it's used and the value has depreciated. That's why when we were back in the States we bought our car and our camping gear on Craigslist and then resold them, for a slight profit, the same way. I draw the line at underwear.

I certainly stocked up on jeans, sweaters and shirts this past trip home. My sister, Lin, is a more-than-willing accomplice when it comes to thrifting and yard sales. The usual plan included abandoning the men early on Saturday mornings and making the rounds of the thrift shops in the area. We'd comb the local neighborhoods for yard sales and garage sales. We got some fine bargains. I'm wearing most of them now. I got to bring them back because they made good packing material for boat parts and didn't weigh much.

My thinking becomes altered, however, when I'm in a thrift shop. I see a sweater I like and immediately my hackles are up if I think the price is too high. “Are they crazy? $4.95 for a sweater? Absolutely not.” And I stick to my guns although sometimes I think afterwards that I was the crazy one since the sweater was in perfect condition and probably 1/20 the price it would sell for new. You can carry this frugality thing a little too far. But the next logical question to ask, of course, is do I really need another sweater? Probably not.

The Aussies have a way of giving nicknames to everything. St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Shop is simply Vinnie's. The signs on their trucks and the storefront validate this. Salvation Army which in the States is called “Salvation Army” is called Salvos here. Same logo and everything, just a shorter, catchier, easy to say name. There's a Salvos right off the Elizabeth Street Mall and I poked my head inside. I thought maybe I could pick up a Christmas shirt or some Christmas linens or trinkets inexpensively. Though the quality wasn't bad, the prices were much higher than I was willing to pay, considerably higher than in the US. Are they crazy? $15.95 for a sweater? $8 for tablecloth? No way! There goes that mindset thing again.