By Jenita Iyalu
Op shopping is making a revival across Perth but what once was primarily an option for the less fortunate has become a favoured pastime for the fashion forward.
Changing the mix of shoppers searching for pre-loved treasures at the local Salvo’s and Vinnie’s has produced a strange win-win.
According to a study conducted by St Vincent de Paul during the National Op Shopping Week this year, the number of people now donating to op shops has increased substantially.
The study finds that the trend for recycled fashions and secondhand goods has worked not only to finance these institutions but has aided communities by raising awareness.
Vinnie’s volunteer Sue Pusey says the old image of op shops is a thing of the past.
“People often have these preconceived ideas of what op shops are like,” she says.
“Memories from their childhoods of smells and clutter, but op shops have come a long way since – stores like ours are even considered boutiques by some.”
The reality of the situation is that op shopping has become vastly popular to a large cross-section of society.
“Fashion is an everlasting trend and that’s why op shopping is as successful as it is,” says experienced op shopper Frances Lee.
Ashleigh Scarr, a well-seasoned op-shopper since the age of 13, says there are a few simple tricks to op shopping.
“Have no clear expectations of what you’re looking for. Go in with an open mind and not with the intention of finding a specific thing,” says Ashleigh.
“Go often. That way stock is always coming through, you get a good idea of the clothes people in the area wear.”
Frances believes op shops are retail outlets in a class of their own.
“Op shops cater to all kinds of people and go beyond just clothing – op shops are unique.”
For the best locations, according to Ashleigh and Frances, op shops in the Willetton area are known for their constantly updated and wide variety of stock.
Leading stores include Vinnie’s, Red Cross and Salvos.