One man’s trash is another man’s treasure
I have been asked multiple times on my “secret” to op shopping. For those that don’t know, thrifting or op shopping is when you go shopping at thrift stores, second-hand shops or charity shops. It has also been popularised by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis with their song Thrift Shop. If you haven’t heard of that song, you may have been living under a rock.
So basically, you are looking at pre-loved/second hand items that have mostly been donated by others. I am a serial op shopper. I am obsessed with it (as you can tell from my thrift hauls) and I love the thrill of finding a great pieces for bargain prices.
If you want to know my thrifting/op shopping tips, click below.
I have been thrifting for years. From an early age in the Philippines, I discovered my love for bargain shopping.
When we moved to New Zealand, my love for op shopping grew even more because I realised that shopping here sucks. The selection was poor, things were more expensive and the more ‘affordable’ brands have the same things so everyone have similar clothing. I am also a cheapskate. I usually don’t spend too much on one item.
When I was a University student, I volunteered at my local Hospice shop one day a week. I loved volunteering at the hospice shop. I got to take home so many things for amazing prices and when I was on sorting duty, I basically had first-dibs. The people were so lovely and I enjoyed every bit of it. I didn’t get paid and I spent a lot of money there but I didn’t mind because it was for a good cause. Op shopping not only benefits you but the charity too so it’s a win-win!
Moving on, here are my top op shopping or thrifting tips:
1. Check out a couple of shops.
Don’t just check out one op shop. Do your research and find out all the op shops near you. I live in the North Shore and I have at least 6 op shops I always go to whenever I can/feel like it. This Op Shop Directory in NZ is also useful. There are at least 2-3 op shops in one suburb and they’re usually near each other too. What I’ve found is that the better the area (more affluent), the better the stock in terms of brands but expect the prices to be more expensive. I found a real pair of Karen Walker sunglasses (see here) in the Takapuna op shop that someone donated. I don’t usually see expensive sunglasses in hospice shops.
2. Be patient and thorough.
I am the type that will go through each and every rack in an op shop. If I’m not in a rush, I can spend at least 2 hours in there going through all the racks and sections. If you don’t have the patience or time, you’ll be less lucky to find good pieces. Unless you’re my sister who has a natural talent of picking random items off a rack and being amazing, you need to be thorough with your search. You never know what you’ll miss if you don’t check the racks. Also, don’t be afraid to rummage through things if you have to. Sometimes you need to dig through some dirt to find the buried treasure!
3. Go often.
I like to go thrifting as much as I can. The stock in an op shop doesn’t usually last long and they only keep items for a certain period. The op shop I volunteered at had the date of when it was put out in the shop and after a few weeks, we take off them off it they haven’t sold and replace it with newer stock. The rest of the unwanted items are either binned or sent away to another place. Also, if you go often, you may notice that some op shops do 50% off sales. One of my favourite shops bring out a $4.50 rack of clothes mid-week.
4. Know your brands.
Brands aren’t the most important thing for me when I go op shopping but it helps if you know brands because you’d know if they are better quality or if the price is good. I am aware of brands and this came in handy when I was on sorting duty while volunteering. Every time I saw Forever New, Country Road, Cue, Topshop, Zara, Portmans etc while sorting, I felt like I could potentially hit a jackpot. I have bought a vintage Kurt Geiger leather handbag, Karen Walker pants, found Cheap Monday jeans twice, a Comme Des Garcon PLAY cardigan and Dior and Dolce and Gabbana items to name a few. You can find anything and everything there. It is a treasure trove!
5. Dress sensibly.
This may not seem important but it truly is. This correlates with my next point but make sure you dress for the occasion. If you planned on going thrifting for the day, don’t wear a hundred layers or clothes that are hard to take off. I prefer skirts because I can easily take it off or put things on top and dresses because it saves you removing separates. Most of the time if I’m wearing jeans and I happen to stop by an op shop, I won’t end up buying anything because I couldn’t be bothered to… (see next point)
6. Try things on.
This can be a pain especially if you’re like me and can fill up a whole cart. Whenever I go to a big op shop, my cart is so full before I head to the changing rooms. It takes forever to try everything on but this is essential. Some items may look good on the hanger but horrible on me and vice versa. I rarely buy things in op shops that I haven’t tried in the store and they are usually basic tees, singlets or wool shirts I’d wear around the house. The fit is important and sizes vary so much in women’s clothing that I can’t be sure. I’m usually a 6-8 but I found out through thrifting that for some reason I am a size 4 in Country Road (it’s surely vanity sizing, right?). You never know until you try and because op shops don’t do returns, you want to make sure the clothes fit you well and save you the regret at home.
7. Venture beyond different sections.
When I go thrifting for clothes, I don’t just check out the women’s section. I am petite so I can fit children’s clothing (the sporty grey dress in this OOTD is an example) but if I’m after an oversized sweater, the men’s section is good for it. Also check out the books and homewares section. I was stoked when I found #GIRLBOSS in the op shop but my most favourite book find is a vintage The Hobbit published in 1978 and looks amazing.
You can also find amazing trinkets. I have a few thrifted jewellery items which I love and still wear.
8. Check each item.
Before you head to the checkout, carefully check each item for faults, holes, stains, missing pieces etc. Stains are a big no-no. Don’t waste your time trying to remove a stain. You don’t want to know what it is or where it came from too. It’s best to leave that one in the shop. Holes or rips are a big thing too. If it’s easy to sew, I’m usually okay with it but stay away from big rips or awful lining. Don’t forget to check the pockets too! I found a $5 bill in a pair of jeans once and while volunteering, someone else found a bag of weed in a men’s coat so that was interesting. Haha
9. Wash each item.
I’m sure everyone does this or I hope so anyway but before you properly wear the clothes, wash and/or iron them first. I sometimes soak the clothes in laundry powder too just to make sure. It will also get rid of the usual thrift shop smell in clothes. Once you’ve stepped into a proper op shop, you will know that scent very well.
10. Keep trying.
If first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Don’t be discouraged if you leave an op shop empty-handed. Thrifting is a hit and miss and you won’t always be successful. Just keep trying and one day you will find some awesome things. I also recommend not going to an op shop if you’re just after a specific item because you’re not going to find it. Keep an open mind and try to enjoy it! Op shopping is fun and don’t take it too seriously.
Sorry this has been quite a long post and thank you if you’ve read all my babbling above. I seriously love op shopping. If you’re interested in seeing my previous thrift hauls in this blog, click here. You can also check out my old Tumblr blog where I documented my thrift hauls for the past few years. I’m sure I posted some tips on there too.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this post. My next one related to this will be about my favourite op shops. If you live in Auckland and you’re interested to know my favourite places to thrift, keep an eye out for that. If you have any other tips that I haven’t covered above, I would love to know them so please leave them down below. Thanks! 🙂