10 Tips for Op-Shopping (AKA Thrifting)

Vintage Sheets

This is another of the posts I originally put together for Kidspot. I often get asked how I get so lucky and manage to find so much great stuff on my op-shopping adventures. While luck certainly plays a major role in my thrifting success, over the years I have picked up a few tips and tricks for sorting the trash from the treasure, so here they are!

Go Often

Stock in op-shops can come and go very quickly and the best items tend to move fast, especially in busy city stores. Go as often as you can to maximise your chances of finding hidden gems. If you are really serious about op-shopping, it doesn’t hurt to ask an employee when they refill their stock and find out if there is a schedule for adding new items. If you go right after the stock has been replenished you’ll beat everyone else to the good stuff.

Be Prepared

Some op-shops still don’t accept cards so make sure you have some cash on hand. Thrifting is also a bit more time consuming than shopping in retail stores and, unlike when you are at a shopping centre, there probably won’t be stalls selling snacks nearby. Make sure you have plenty of time and eat before you go. Op-shopping isn’t much fun if you are rushed or hungry.

Vintage Plates

Wander Further Afield

I have always found little op-shops in small towns to be absolute goldmines so when we go on road trips we always make a point of stopping at as many op-shops as we can. Try to get off the beaten track.

Be Thorough

Op-shopping is not like strolling through a clothes store where you can quickly scan the displays. You need to set aside some time to go through the individual racks of clothes, sort through the crockery and dig through the boxes of assorted junk. It takes a little more patience than traditional shopping but if you are thorough, you can be rewarded with great finds at bargain prices.

Only Buy The Things You Love

If you op-shop often and you bring home everything thing you like, you will very quickly find yourself overwhelmed with stuff. When I first started thrifting regularly I used to bring home almost everything that I liked (because it was so affordable) but I soon learned that this is just a recipe for clutter. The cost of all those small purchases adds up too, so you can wind up spending a lot more than you might imagine. Try to resist the things you like and only bring home the things you love.

Vintage Pyrex Bowls

Think Creatively

Look for the potential in things and try to be open-minded. Sometimes clothes, knick-knacks and furniture just need a minor alteration or repair to make them wonderful. Other things can be repurposed into something entirely new. Use your imagination and try to think outside the box.

Remember What You Actually Need

I have certain things that I collect, like vintage linens and vintage Pyrex, so when I enter an op-shop I make a beeline for those sections. I also try to keep a mental list of things I need and want, so that I remember to keep an eye out for them when I’m thrifting. I find that if you go into a store without any idea of what you need or want, you’re more likely to miss out on treasures (because you won’t be looking for them) or come out of the shop with a bunch of unnecessary extras.

Be Impulsive

It stands in direct contrast to my last point but part of the fun of op-shopping is that you can be a bit more impulsive than you might normally, and come home with something completely unexpected. I love the thrill of stumbling across something weird and wonderful! After all, if you change your mind about the item you can always donate it back.


Leave Some Treasures Behind

Sometimes I see an amazing vintage dress that isn’t in my size and find myself wondering who I could buy it for, or considering buying it to resell. When that happens I have to remind myself that I would probably never get around to listing all those vintage items that aren’t quite right for me, so they’d just be taking up space in my house. If it isn’t going to work for you, or you have no need or space for it, let it go. I find it helps to think about how happy the item will make the next person who comes along and can actually use it.

Don’t Get Discouraged

Sometimes I go months without finding a single thing and I begin to wonder if all the vintage treasures have disappeared for good, then out of nowhere I’ll find something amazing. You never know when you are going to discover the next little gem so don’t give up! In my experience, if it feels like your luck has totally run out, you are probably just around the corner from finding something really special.

Katie xx

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About Katie

Katie is a tea drinking, jewellery making, op-shopping daydreamer. Katie likes vintage dresses, Pictionary, doilies and colourful tights.


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12 Responses to “10 Tips for Op-Shopping (AKA Thrifting)”

  1. Monica June 19, 2014 at 10:14 pm #

    I have always shopped at thrift stores, I used to take great grandma to them all the time./ I love them and so does Kelsey, I seem to find the most quality homemade quilts there. Jordan was passed down great grandmas tea set. As a young man he is always looking for matching pieces to go with it. He is so sweet, him and grams used to have tea parties, SO I will show you the pattern and maybe you can find some of it. Also I look for old dolls, I collect them. Thank you for your post./I will send you a pic of the china.

  2. Meg June 20, 2014 at 8:03 am #

    Thanks for those gorgeous photos! The rainbow of colours has brightened my grey, foggy winter morning no end!

    • Katie
      Katie June 21, 2014 at 2:13 pm #

      It is my pleasure Meg! I love winter but these cold grey mornings can feel a bit bleak. Colour definitely helps! xx

  3. Julie June 20, 2014 at 11:32 am #

    I love all the posts coming through this past week. One of my favourite things about your blog is seeing the great op shop finds you score. So this post is a winner – cheers.

    • Katie
      Katie June 21, 2014 at 1:41 pm #

      Aw, thanks Julie! That’s lovely! xx

  4. JessB June 20, 2014 at 1:27 pm #

    Katie, I just love your last point, it feels like a lesson for life in general, not just op-shopping.

    “You never know when you are going to discover the next little gem so don’t give up! In my experience, if it feels like your luck has totally run out, you are probably just around the corner from finding something really special.”

    • Katie
      Katie June 21, 2014 at 1:42 pm #

      Gosh Jess, you make me sound very wise, hehe! Thank you! xx

  5. Bek @Just For Daisy June 20, 2014 at 9:58 pm #

    SO many great tips AND great finds in your pictures!
    We love stopping at small town op shops too! ALways some lovely surprises!

    • Katie
      Katie June 21, 2014 at 2:01 pm #

      Small towns are the best!! We never used to find much when we went op-shopping in Sydney but when we went on road trips we always came home with lots of good stuff. Now we live in the country we find treasures a lot more regularly! 🙂

  6. chelsea June 20, 2014 at 10:08 pm #

    Such good tips! Thrifting is seriously like treasure hunting!

  7. Renee - Sapling House June 29, 2014 at 3:02 pm #

    What a beautiful selection of treasures you have there! How inspiring! I love thrifting, but your points about clutter ring true for me too. Sigh, so many pretties!

  8. Bec July 8, 2014 at 4:37 pm #

    Great tips Katie! Thinking I should now be a little worried as it seems we both search for similar things & we live in kinda the same area. I’ll have to start going more often 🙂 Happy thrifting!

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