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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.