There's been a flurry of new stories around like this piece on ABC News about Fast Fashion swamping opshops and I have to say I am feeling a little drowned out by kmart t-shirts in my weekly visits.
Ok, so I go in opshops. I go in a lot of opshops. Charity shops, flea markets, vintage fairs, garage sales and jumble sales, I've even been known to rummage through bags left out for council collection. I've been all over the world with a blue Ikea bag filled full of thrifted treasures so lets just say I can hunt down a vintage piece from a great distance.
Since moving to Sydney 9 years ago I've ventured all over the city in pursuit of the best opshopping adventures. I can tell you what days are good for treasure hunting, which stores have a new manager, who has a 'fill-a-bag sale' and which tends to have quality pieces that maybe cost a little more but are great value.
When I used to spend my Saturdays as an Op Shop Tour Leader I would champion the virtues of each style of store. There's the 'rummage style' store with a mish-mash of products that feels like you've stumbled into a hoarders lair and then there's the other one - clean laminate floors, a vintage section, 'nice things in cabinets' and a sense of order and 'one price fits all' co-ordination.
Lately more and more stores seem to have gravitated towards the latter, but with the influx of fast-fashion something has come adrift and I often see racks and racks of polyester nightmares at premium prices.
I don't just buy for re-sale, a lot of my own personal clothes, accessories, shoes and homewares all come from the op-shops. I'm not averse to buying preloved fast-fashion like this cute SHEIN dress I scored last week. I love keeping items like this out of landfill but I don't want to pay more than $10 for something that is unlikely to last more than a season of washes.
I called into my local Vinnies yesterday, saw an interesting but dog-eared photography book and then did a double take that no it wasn't priced at $7 it was $75!! Realised I'd stumbled into the 'special things' area where I also discovered a battered old leather bag was priced at $95 and a pair of rather tatty suede boots were $45.
I love that all the OpShops now have the ability to command higher prices to help with raising costs of staffing and shopkeeping but where is the reality? Even in premium Vintage stores in Sydney those battered old items would sit on the shelves for ages at that price and be relegated to a clearance section.
After 10 years of shopkeeping, I know that fresh sells - the newest things on the racks are the first to go and you get left with really amazing items that hang around for no apparent reason.
Years ago when I ran my store in Manchester, there was guy from Leeds we used to call 'The King of Vintage'. He ran multiple stores around the UK for many, many years dealing in huge containers of vintage clothing. I met him at one of his discount stores - everything was 3 for $10 and such a huge variety of pieces, some on racks, some in baskets, some piled on the floor. We got chatting about prices and he said "I know it's worth more, but you've just got to sell it, it's the thrill of the chase, keeps people coming back". I'm never going to make my millions selling vintage like he did but I still remember his wise words.
So check out my $10 Sale of vintage & preloved - It's cheaper than Vinnies!!