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Just ask any of my friends and they will surely tell you that I am an ‘op shopper’ first and a drunken lout second. Op shopping is something that I hold dear to my heart and I see it as a constitutional right much like our yankee brethren across the water see gun ownership as more natural than taking a dump.

The Opportunity Shop has a fairly short history dating from the first Oxfam charity shop in Oxford, funnily enough, around 1947 and The Red Cross apparently opened their first shop in London in 1941.

The trend then spread to all the anglo colonies and that is where I come in.

Since living in Melbourne I have been a proud patron of many a dusty op shop and have furnished my house as well as my wardrobe with their used wears. If one has an eye for quality and an empty wallet they are indispensable, however if you were raised on shiny new things advertised on telly and are always keeping up with the jones’s I reckon you have probably missed out on one of the joys of life; finding a bygone ‘thingy’ at a bygone price.

My selection of Op Shop goodies on display.

I have noticed lately, the point of this piece, that many of said shops are moving up market, in price as well as decor. On many an occasion I have   interrupted  old ladies having morning tea in the far corner beside the haberdashery in my quest for a heavy bottomed pot. Sadly these ladies, purple rinse and pommie accents included, are on the way out.

But why?

Well, the gentrification of the inner suburbs has sent rental values heaven bound plus the recent recession has brought a new breed of customer into the musty rooms of yesteryear.

The charity organisations have been quick to spot this change in their patrons demographic and have reacted accordingly by changing the way they operate.

I have noticed three main areas of change;

*Colour co-ordinated window displays and a more minimalist, less is more approach to the actual interior display. No more boxes of pillow cases and old grannies faded bloomers.

*A significant increase in the price of just about everything, so much so that one is sometimes better  off going to the chinese junk shop around the corner and picking the same stuff for half the price.

*And finally the employing of men who are more in touch with their feminine side.

It is this last point that is the most significant in my opinion. As we all know, members of the rainbow sex are very au fait with style and fashion and know a bargain when they see one although not all would stoop so low as to enter a ‘thrift’ shop.

I have on more occasions than there are digits on my limbs been served by a limp wristed store manager and have had to bargain the over inflated price of a pair of nice shoes down to something more manageable. One reason for this might be that charity organisations do ’employ’ people who are in need of completing ‘community service’ orders and perhaps, just perhaps, more offenders are of the ‘pink pound’ persuasion.

It is this ‘ladies’ touch that has transformed so many of The Salvation Army shops into little boutiques of colour co-ordinated blouses and perfectly poised delph displays.

And here is the kicker…one of my favourite Salvo shops is in the process of being turned into a ‘Boutique’.

And a ladies boutique at that.

The grand opening is tomorrow the 10th of April and the location is;

81 Victoria Crescent,
Abbotsford, VIC 3067

So, if you are a lady or somebody who likes to dress like a lady or even just an op shopper like yours truly I would suggest setting the alarm clock for 9 am and heading down to Abbotsford for bargains galore. But be warned they might not be that cheap but it should be the cream of the crop if the display is anything to go by.

Afterwards I would recommend heading to Victoria street for a nice warming bowl of Vietnamese PHO or some BBQ duck or even just a few delicious real egg custard tarts.

Bon Voyage et Bon Appetite.

p.s. Hands off the dinky green webber style bbq in the window as I’ve got dibs on it.