Wednesday, 12 December 2007


There are some brands that you just don't seem to find in the op shop. Like Oilily. Brand new they sell children's t-shirts for over $100. I can categorically state that I would never consider paying that much for a t-shirt for anybody, but $5.75 is fine.

So yes, I found an Oilily t-shirt at the Salvation Army in Malvern on Monday, along with a whole swag of other great things - a blouse, a two-piece French outfit, a sequinned top to wear to a wedding later in the month, a couple of woollen jumpers - all great stuff. And what didn't I buy? Scanlan&Theodore trousers, a Body skirt - all not my size. In fact, they have a separate 'designer clothing' rack there.

It's not all about the labels for me though, honestly. I do like to buy expensive items for a fraction of the price, but I also love vintage finds. The French two-piece outfit is '70s or '80s by Rodier Paris a blouse and wrap skirt made from 100% fib. cellulosique. It's black with a white spotty pattern and I'm going to love wearing it to work.

Friday, 30 November 2007



RMIT fashion students give charity donations a new lease of life

WHAT: Launch of Remake-Remix exhibition of garments recreated from second-hand clothes

WHEN: 11am–noon, Tuesday, 4 December, 2007

WHERE: Brotherhood of St Laurence Hunter Gatherer Store, 82A Acland Street, St Kilda

Remake-Remix is an exhibition of garments designed and created by past and present fashion students from RMIT’s School of Architecture and Design, using clothing donated to the Brotherhood of St Laurence.

RMIT students will model some of the garments at the launch. Clothing given a second chance includes:

  • trousers from an airline uniform turned into the billowing sleeves of a jacket
  • layered fluorescent necklaces made from old T-shirts
  • the sleeves of discarded woollies incorporated into contemporary scarves
  • designer dresses and tops created from conservative men’s business shirts

Speakers include:

  • Emer Diviney, Research and Policy Coordinator for Ethical Business at the Brotherhood of St Laurence
  • Mick Peel, Program Director RMIT Fashion
  • Five student designers

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

hunter gatherer

Hunter Gatherer has its origins in 1999 when Victorian welfare organisation the Brotherhood of St Laurence got the idea to set up a vintage clothing store. The shop started in a Collingwood basement selling the best of hand-selected vintage clothing for men, women and kids.

They now have stores on Acland Street in St Kilda and Brunswick Street in Fitzroy, still selling hand-picked vintage, their own range of ethically produced garments and accessories from local suppliers. The stores' profits all go back into the Brotherhood's social welfare programs.

As its history suggests, Hunter Gatherer is more like a second-hand clothing shop (with prices to match) than an op shop. However, all the proceeds do go to charity and that's what counts in my book.

I've had some great finds here - a cotton Scanlan&Theodore skirt, a 70s black velvet floral print skirt, Fred Bare children's clothes. I particularly like it that HG stocks retro children's clothes which can otherwise be hard to find.

There's more info, including about their ethically produced No Sweatshop vintage-inspired new gear, on their website.

Friday, 16 November 2007

The Laying House

I just had to show off this latest purchase.... My Cinderella now has a "Laying House!"
Well there is one great thing about my new full time job, lunch breaks along Smith St and the great Op Shops I get to rummage through.
I found this at St Vinnies for the bargain price of $5, brand new in its box. I know I am going to be collecting those three little balls from underneath the couch over, and over again, but it'll be worth it!

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

the liberry

Last week on Friday I:

- was vomited on at three in the morning
- missed my flight to Tasmania
- locked myself out of the house
- drove to Sandringham to collect my neighbour's house key in order to get my spare key from her kitchen drawer, and

- visited the All Souls' Opportunity Shop in Bay Road, Sandringham (tel: 9598 2189; M-F 9:30-5:00, S 9:30-12:00) where I recovered a portion of my childhood.

Help! I'm a Prisoner in the Library! is a book that I read as a child and have been trying to recall for the past few years. I could remember that library was incorrectly spelled but not the actual title and thought that it was a picture story book. I always have a look on the bookshelves in the op shop - for good children's books, for craft books and, well, anything else of interest. I have no recollection of how this book ends - it's next on my reading list!

The All Souls' Opportunity Shop is fantastic, one of those old fashioned op shops where things cost a couple of dollars and there is a 5c basket. I also bought some great children's clothes, a vintage Fisher-Price toy, a couple of jumpers and a rubber duck (from the aforementioned 5c basket). Highly recommended.

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

doing 'the rounds'.....

As fate would have it today, i was meant to opshop! not that i need much encouragement you understand, but today it all just fell into place.

Our family BUS has been leaking bits and pieces and making funny noises for a few days now, Ty normally handles this side of life, not this morning...
When the BUS started spewing litres of coolant in the carpark of Theo's, I had to act.

Our lovely trustworthy fantastic mechanic is in Croydon so we limped down and left the BUS in his capable hands, 3 hours of bakery, park, and 'the rounds' ensued:Vinnie's, the Salvos, Red Cross on Main street and The Brotherhood of St Larence around the corner.

Waiting, waiting, waiting....lots of waiting!
My companions were well behaved/asleep and it was lovely to have no excuses but to browse.

Lots of treasures to be had, two cardies for Ami, a cool linen growth chart, a very loud smock style apron which will be harvested for its fabricy goodness, and some shirts that WILL fit if i get back to the gym and put down the tim-tam!

Most times, if the opping gods are kind, i tend to come away with a favorite, a pearler, something that makes doing 'the rounds' worthwhile...
Presenting Marion, my new writing compendium...

Marion, who were you?

Somebody obliviously felt that you were very special, gold embossed lettering, smart blue leather.

Marion, why didn't you ever use it?

20 crisp envelopes and a fresh 'Basildon Bond' writing pad

The gold engraved plaque reads, 'from Typists, Pensions Repat. Dept. 1972'

Retirement, promotion, years of service?I will never know.
For $2 i couldn't leave you behind, Marion you will have a new life with me, i will use you and continue to dream about the intent behind your presentation.

For me that's the real joy in opp shopping, finding little treasures, imagining their past life and giving them a new one...

Tuesday, 23 October 2007


Could op shopping lead you to the next big thing? It already has! Found at the bottom of the salvo’s 50 cent bin, join the quest for love, life and the ultimate bargain. A journey which visits the highs and lows op shopping, drawing on music from Bic Runga, The Beatles, Matthew Robinson and many more. In an age of vintage revivals, romantics beware, who knows what lies within.

November 1st to 4th
Thurs to Sat at 7pm Sun at 6pm
Tickets $20 /concession $15
At The Butterfly Club
204 Bank Street, South Melbourne, VIC

Friday, 12 October 2007

Sorrento contributes to my library again!

Hooray for JackandAndy's op shop at the bottom of Sorrento's main street! Tuesday: eight books (they all look as if they've been read once, most still have their Antipodes $32.95 pricetags on them) for $18.50. I realise they're not the GREATEST baragins in the world, but given that all my books invariably make their way into about five other homes thanks to my motherr-in-law, an excellent buy = I not only get THEM to read, but 'borrowing rights' to other books in return. Hooray!!!

Wednesday, 3 October 2007

two dollars

one Kate Finn blue gingham horse
one wooden maraca
many multicoloured wooden blocks
five Lego blocks
three embroidered doilies
one lace doily
nine brand new Crayola crayons

I love Prahran Mission Goodwill Shop (211 Chapel Street, Prahran).

Sunday, 30 September 2007

book review: part 1

A month ago or so I included some information about the release of this great book, Inventory: on op shops by Enza Gandolfo and Sue Dodd from Victoria University.

I have really been enjoying looking through this book, particularly because it focuses on some western suburbs op shops which are outside my neighbourhood. There are many ideas and themes in the book that resonate which I plan to share here over the course of a few posts.

How many times have you proudly been able to say "I bought it at the op shop" when someone compliments what you're wearing. That's how Sue and Enza met over the photocopier, each admiring the other's skirt. I complimented a colleague at work last week on her lovely fine green knit - she bought it at the op shop - hooray! A lot of what I wear to work comes from the op shop including a nice little Alannah Hill skirt, black, simple with a flounce at the back which gets noticed every now and then.

Grab a copy of this book or request that your local library buy it and share the op shopping message!

the oppe shoppe

Many thanks to readers Debra and my poppet who have kindly pointed out to me that the National Council of Jewish Women of Australia run an op shop on Hawthorn Road, Caulfield, near the corner of Glen Eira Road, known better to me as the Oppe Shoppe (pronounced oppie shoppie for good measure). I have made a few good purchases there, not least of all this terrific stencil printed t-shirt for my little girl. Sometimes I dress her in pink but I also like to dress her in modern graphic pieces and this one is just right.

Debra let me know that she bought a good navy blue pant suit there and that they often have great shoes. My poppet wrote that the shop has a good wig selection and lots of lovely holiday knick knacks from Israel. Has anyone else bought something good there?

Friday, 28 September 2007

So... on the Mornington Peninsula

I hail from Langwarrin...on the way to Phillip Island via the South-Eastern, but you get to turn off before Hastings (PHEW!) and we have LOTS of op-shops. When I lived in Seaford, my local was a very average place with lots of second-hand cheap clothes and the occasional random silk kimono. And terrible books.
Now I call Frankston my local... cos there's HEAPS of variety and not a little quality. Of course, Savers is a good place to start. Once you've thoroughly (and that can take an hour. Maybe two.) searched their racks, you should walk out with minimum one pair jeans (Bettina Liano floats my boat, but I've stumbled across the occasional pair of sass&bide's and mavi and lee and....yeah, ok) a skirt (lots of choice, all $5.99 unless otherwise tagged) and some books. I read a LOT. Then, head over to the Red Cross shop. They get a lot of new and ex-shop stock. One day and girlfriend and I were trapped. We spent a hundred bucks between the two of us and left with about $800 RRP worth of dresses. If you don't mind a few tiny (seriously tiny) repairs, this shop can be your best friend. Two doors down is the Brotherhood store. Can be very hit and miss, but I've found some wonderful seventies' dresses here and boots that I will love until I die. On the back side of Quayside...a tiny tired little shop has lots of jumpers. Well, that's how it always seems. on the station side of Quayside three more shops sit in close proximity. One's pretty new and has TONS of cheapie stuff (and maternity, last time I was in. ) One's got good books, and the other never know. I think that's my favorite thing about op-shopping (other than the thrill of getting a bargain, like the breast pump below!) ... it takes determination and effort, but the random rewards are great.
Further down the Peninsula...Mount Eliza has three op-shops, all of which have great potential. I don't think I've ever returned home empty-handed after a sojourn there. Of course, it's also the suburb of hairdressers, so you can kill two birds with one stone! A little further down... Mornington is not the op-shoppers' best friend, but you can start at one end of the Main Street with St.Peter's Church op-shop, walk most of the way up to another, cross over and visit the Animal Aid op-shop ...then have a great lunch before you get back in your car. Where else???
Rosebud has a lovely big place that is always good for books. Blairgowrie has another big place with lots of tee-shirts (well, usually) and Sorrento has two op-shops which I visit on a weekly basis and never come away from empty-handed. Someone down there must be a proof-reader, because I keep finding uncorrected proofs and getting to read them well ahead of their release dates! So... in the area? go op-shopping! Hope I'm not boring you all....

Thursday, 20 September 2007

josies is my local

My local op shop that is. Situated here in Balaclava, around the corner at 255 Carlisle Street, I believe that Josies (tel. 9527 2929; M-F 9:00-4:00) is Melbourne's only Jewish op shop. Just last week they had a wooden musical box with a picture of Jerusalem's Wailing Wall on it. Not sure what the tune was though.

Josies is a small op shop - clothing, some toys, books, shoes, some homewares, some linen, some bric-a-brac, no furniture. I can't honestly say that their stock is great but I do mostly find something whenever I go in. (How often is that? hmmm, weekly.) Some good buys have been: a copy of Hanging Out with Cici by Francine Pascal* which I read as a child and am storing for baby bear; a fine knit cabled men's woollen jumper for Tim from Saba; a black wool Valentino skirt made in France with a tiny waist that will be refashioned; and best of all, the boob trumpet, ah, that is, the breast pump. This device has been a life saver and cost me only $8 (they retail for around $90) - it does actually count as a best find ever. Kudos to my neighbour who spotted it in the window and alerted me.

So Josies is certainly worth a look - all that they are missing is an apostrophe.

* Yikes, I just learned that Francine Pascal was the author of all those Sweet Valley High books, which I didn't read. Cici will never be the same.

Wednesday, 12 September 2007

Inventory: on op shops

Media Release

Op shopping is a fixture on the Melbourne cultural scene, and Victoria University lecturers Enza Gandolfo and Sue Dodd, bring their combined skills as writer and artist to the production of a book and exhibition that uncover the charm of these local treasures: the community op shop and its volunteers and patrons.

Book Launch and Exhibition Opening

Find out everything you’ve wanted to know about op shops at the book launch of Inventory: on op shops and art installation exhibit opening on Thursday 13 September from 6-8pm at Melbourne’s Living Museum of the West, Maribyrnong. Melbourne author Alice Pung will be on hand to launch the book.

Inventory: on op shops uses excerpts from the interviews, vignettes, poetry, photographs and video production stills to take the reader into the op shop world – both front and back of shop. It explores the many reasons people op shop – necessity, bargain hunting, recycling – as well as the many stories that reside in the donated goods waiting for a second life.Contact Enza Gandolfo on 9919 2611.

Op Shop Reading

Saturday 15 September 2-4pm, Living Museum of the West, Pipemakers park off Warrs Rd. Writers will read stories and poems inspired by 'op shops'. If you have a story you would like to read contact Enza Gandolfo on 9919 2611.

Artistic Events

Plastic Bags a live op shop pop performance by Sue and Phil Dodd, on 22 September from 1-4 pm. Melbourne’s Living Museum of the West.

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

The Score - Vintage Yellow Kitchen Dresser

thrift score, originally uploaded by gusseting.

Like Justin Heazlewood, who lamented the state of op shopping in the latest issue of Frankie, I too had just about given up on op shops, remembering the wonder days of rocking in and scoring stuff almost every time. The senior ladies were lovely, friendly souls, who'd often help me in my quest for mixmaster beaters, fowler bowls, or whatever fad had befallen me at the time. These days, it's more count yourself lucky to find something and get service.
Sometimes, you can win. Kitchen dressers at a decent price aren't easy to come by - Abbotsford was recently selling one for $400.00 (yep, we checked, and it was the right price). Finding a decent dresser with cute vintage typography, trashy rose print contact on the inside, and lemony yellow faux padded leather backsplash was kinda special.
The lesson learnt here (that we keep on learning...) is that any op shop can deliver the goods - it's the frequency of checking the place out that will ensure that you score.

Monday, 10 September 2007

half-price sale

News just in from Infoxchange Australia's Community News:

Knox Community Care Warehouse is a local welfare agency, providing support to those in need within Knox and surrounding areas.
Knox Community Care Op Shop is a warehouse full of great bargains in clothing, shoes, furniture, bric-a-brac, books, records, electrical, crafts and loads more! We are having a Half Price Sale with all goods, excluding furniture and the 50 cent rack, at half price.

When: Monday 10 to Friday 14 September, 10am to 3pm.
48 Parkhurst Drive, Knoxfield 3180 (Melways 64 C11).

Cash sales only - no eftpos / credit card facility. Limited parking. All proceeds go to Knox Community Care programs.

For more information, call 03 9887 4268.

Sunday, 9 September 2007

profile - Vini at Sacred Heart Mission

Name – Vini

Position – Assistant Manager

Shop - Sacred Heart Mission op shop, East St Kilda

Vini has been Assistant Manager at the Sacred Heart Mission op shop in East St Kilda since it opened on 10 November 2006. The shop is open seven days a week (yes folk, Sunday shopping!) and is staffed by around 15 volunteers.

Vini likes the variety of working at the shop – you never know what stock is coming in, there are things that are very old, things that are modern, and heaps of stuff in between, a real cross-section of wares. It's important to Vini to make these things available to people who are setting up a home in the area but don't have a lot of money to spend.

In the last financial year the three Sacred Heart Mission op shops raised $1.4 million that goes towards the Mission's work feeding up to 600 homeless people every day. Vini also works a day each week at the Mission's headquarters in St Kilda and gets great satisfaction from knowing that his work has helped to bring comfort to those who are in need.

Vini puts a lot of effort into maintaining the Inkerman Street location's boutique feel – the shop is neat and tidy, the stock is carefully chosen (not everything donated finds its way onto the shop floor but it does get passed on to other charities) and well presented, and there will be a selection of hats available shortly for the Spring Carnival. Indeed, the stock is great which is why this is one of my absolute favourite op shops. I have bought Camper shoes, Puma sneakers, a Ben Sherman shirt, Scanlan & Theodore trousers and Levis jeans amongst many other things. Aside from clothing there is also kitchen ware, accessories, bric-a-brac and a great range of books in stock. Add to all of this the fantastic window displays which are a favourite part of the job for Vini and this is possibly the best op shop in the area.

The Sacred Heart Mission op shops are at:

Inkerman Street (corner of Hotham Street), East St Kilda;

86-88 Chapel Street, Windsor; 9529 2455

87A Grey Street, St Kilda;

And they're looking for a fourth location – spare shopfront anyone?

Sunday, 2 September 2007

op in the city

Back when I was at high school we would rush down Chapel Street after school to catch the Salvation Army op shop before it closed at 4:00pm. School holidays were a bonus when you could actually go to all those op shops that were otherwise denied to you because they were closed on the weekend. There would be a train ride out to an otherwise nondescript suburban shopping strip, just for the sake of visiting the op shop.

Op shop opening hours are more commercially aligned these days, Saturday trading is the norm and there are even a fabulous few which are open on a Sunday. And city workers do not despair, there is a great Salvation Army op shop up the top of Bourke Street, just about opposite Pellegrini's. It's open Monday to Friday, 9:00am to 5:00pm. I tried on some Scanlan&Theodore and some Saba trousers there the other day - they didn't fit so they might still be there ...

Remember, addresses, telephone numbers and a growing list of opening hours for every op shop in Melbourne are listed over there in the side bar. Just click.

Thursday, 30 August 2007

i'm a little teapot

I bought this teapot at the Salvation Army op shop in Benalla on a road trip last long weekend. It's an insulated tea pot - the teapot itself is a pretty simple cream ceramic affair, but that metallic dome is actually a funky tea cosy with a wool felt lining.

It was a tad expensive - $35.00 - but it does pour really well and in a teapot that's almost priceless.

Monday, 20 August 2007

a tablecloth dress

The weekend before last I went to see this production 'My Life in a Tablecloth dress'. And indeed, Joanne O'Callaghan did wear a very fetching dress made from a tablecloth. Nice work, Joanne!

Interspersed with some cabaret song numbers she went through 10 good reasons to op shop - including supporting charity, wearing something unique, saving the planet and grabbing a bargain. She also included procrastinating by going op shopping. Sacred Heart Mission on Grey Street in St Kilda got a mention, including the bloke who sits on the stoop there and lets you know the opening hours. Anyway, I'm very glad to see op shopping taking centre stage.

One of the things that I find most gratifying about op shopping is confirmation of my 'eye for fashion' - that is, when in amongst a crowded rack you spy some fabric and think 'yes, that's lovely' and it turns out to be an Italian designer label. Like the Romeo Gigli 100% wool jacket that I bought today at Salvation Army in St Kilda. It was priced at $55 (no thank you) but when I enquired at the counter the kind volunteer told me that those prices were old and that I could have it for $15. Excellent! I intend to use the fabric for a child's coat. Having said which, an equal number of times I have spied something and thought the cut was great only to check the label and find that it came from Target. Just goes to show (perhaps that Target's range is really improving).

Friday, 10 August 2007

Sentimental St Kilda Finds

Here are a few of my favourite things.....

I look at photos of myself as a child and wish that my Mum hadn't gotten rid of all those great treasures of the late 70s and early 80s. If only they were still around for me to dress my Bella Cinderella in such funky attire. Hence I just had to buy these maroon tracky overalls, I'm guessing circa 1970 something.... $4 at the local Hunter Gatherer on Acland St. I was so desperate for her to wear them this winter that I even clumsily sewed extra buttons on the straps to make them smaller.

With my sentimental yearning in mind I discovered this treasure this morning at another local Op-Shop - The Sacred Heart Mission on the corner of Hotham and Inkerman. Melamine vintage Disney at only $3! I can already hear it hitting the ground over and over again....

Friday, 3 August 2007

flamenco kitsch

I have been keeping an eye out lately in my op shop travels for some needlepoint and couldn't pass up this fabulous example. It's beautifully done, very evenly stitched and (as it came framed and under glass) in perfect condition. I've donated the frame back and will use this in some crafty endeavour. Purchased at the Posh Opp Shop in Glenhuntly - all the details are in the treasure map.

Mitropa teapot

Another one from me: this little teapot is another Savers find. Can't remember whether it was Sydney Rd or Footscray. $2

I love this teapot. I love the typeface, the functional, practical design (might be a throw back to GDR style utilitarianism - I'm thinking The Lives of Others and 'grey men'). I believe Mitropa is/was the catering company for the German railways.

Check out Wikipedia for a bit of background.

A clutch with a touch of Bottega Veneta

OK - the lovely Amelia has asked me to contribute some of my 'best ever' op shop finds. This is one of them. I 'think' it is from Savers on Sydney Road but don't quote me - it's an old purchase. Of course it's not Bottega Veneta but it does have the woven leather look going on, although in this instance it's plastic. I'm sure Stella McCartney would charge her vegan celeb buddies a bomb for something like this.

I love it because it's the perfect going out bag, robust enough to withstand ciggie burns, being danced on and around, drop name it, this bag has probably seen it. It also has a long chain strap if you want to make like Mischa Barton with her Chanel handbag.

All this for the grand total of $5.

Monday, 30 July 2007

treasure map

It's there in the side bar - a link to all of the Melbourne op shops that I could muster with a start on their addresses, telephone numbers and opening hours. If you know of any more, or can add/correct any details - let me know!

Tuesday, 24 July 2007

best find(s) ever

There is so much in our house that comes from the op shop that it is very difficult to choose just one thing. So, I've chosen one thing for each member of our household.

Yves Saint Laurent Homme blazer

Although this is a men's blazer I like to wear it as a jacket/coat when it gets cold. 100% wool, beautifully made. I bought it years ago at the South Melbourne Community Chest Opportunity Shop in Bank Street. $12.00 rings a bell.

Camper pelotas

My husband wears Camper shoes - usually just one pair until they fall apart. We went on a shopping expedition the other day and bought a couple of new pairs for him (they were 20% off) at which point he relinquished the totally dilapidated pair that he was wearing. The next day I was at the Sacred Heart Mission op shop on Inkerman Street, East St Kilda and found these Campers for $15.00 - identical to the ones that he gave up the day before, same colour, same size, just in better condition.

Fisher Price activity centre

When we visited a friend a few weeks ago I was green with envy over her original 1970s Fisher Price activity board - her mother had kept it packed away for almost 30 years. Thank you, thank you St Vincent's Benalla - $3.00.

What are your best op shop finds ever? Please share!

Friday, 20 July 2007

I op therefore I am

I need to start this blog so that I have an outlet for crowing about my latest op shop finds; I think that I’m beginning to bore some friends. I’m a big fan of buying stuff from the op shop – clothes, shoes, bags, furniture, wool, books, toys; I even found a breast pump once.

Here are just some reasons why it’s great to op shop:

SAVE MONEY – There is always a bargain to be had at the op shop. I like expensive label clothing, I particularly like it when it only costs $5.00.

CHARITY – This is where I like my money to go; when you op shop you are doing a good deed at the same time.

SUSTAINABILITY – A great way to recycle and re-use, it’s a greener way to live.

TREASURE – I love the thrill of the chase; to find something at the op shop that is your size, your colour, your treasure basically.

There will be posts about best finds ever and ongoing commentary on what people are finding, feature op shops, treasure alerts and a link is coming to op shop names and addresses. If you live in Melbourne, Australia and would like to participate, please send me an email at bollewangenhaptoetATgmailDOTcom