Recently I’ve started volunteering a couple of days a week at our local Op Shop. Op shops, opportunity shops, thrift shops, whatever they are known as are a great idea. Not only do they raise funds for deserving causes they also give people with limited means a way to buy good quality clothing and household items. Collectors love them too. You never know what you may find in an Op Shop. Some of the first dolls I collected came from Op Shops around Adelaide when we lived there.
One of my best Op Shop buys was a pair of Wellington boots (gum boots) which I bought not long after we arrived in Tasmania to live. I bought them in an Op Shop in Huonville for 50c and I still use them in the garden when the weather is wet fourteen years later.
The Salvation Army, City Mission, St Vincent de Paul are some large and well known charities that run Op Shops while others are run by church or community groups. There are even online Op Shops. The Salvos opened Australia’s first online Op Shop. It’s getting to be big business here. From what I gather from doll collecting fellow bloggers American Thrift Shops are much bigger affairs than ours are. The shop that I volunteer at is located in the grounds of the Geeveston Primary School and the money raised is used in the local community which I really like.
I’ve visited a lot of Op Shops in the past but this is my first experience of working in one and I’m finding it very interesting and a lot of fun as well. One of the interesting parts is seeing what sort of things come into the shop as donations. Sometimes we arrive in the morning to find boxes and bags of things sitting outside that have been dropped off overnight but often people will just come in with things. They might be moving away or just de-cluttering. Mothers bring their children’s outgrown clothes and toys, sometimes they may have come from the shop in the first place. That’s good recycling.
The first thing that happens when donations are received is that they are sorted out. Most things are in very good condition but occasionally there may be items that are broken or clothes that are a bit too worn to put on the racks. Some clothing can be cut up for rags and the buttons cut off to be recycled, old handbags are saved for a crafty lady who makes things from them and stuffing from toys and pillows can sometimes be saved as well.
As the shop is in the school grounds parents often come in after dropping their children off in the morning or before picking them up in the afternoon. Often there will be lots of pre-schoolers playing with the toys while their mothers stock up on clothes for the family. When there are not many customers there is usually something to do to keep busy. As I am a compulsive sorter I will sometimes go and tidy the shelves of books, CD’s and DVD’s or arrange the clothing in colour groups. Sometimes we rearrange the china and bric a brac just to make the displays look different and more interesting.
The fun part is chatting with customers, many of whom are regulars. It’s nice when the shop is filled with happy people who are pleased with their finds or just enjoying a good browse.
At the end of the day I always feel that I have done something worthwhile by being there.