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The Shopping Reformation; A Treasure Hunter’s Guide


We at Sans Pareil love thrifting! If you like this article check out this piece on why it’s so great for the environment.

Although most of my family were prolific bargain hunters as I was growing up, it was my close friend Jeni that really introduced me to the fine art of op shopping. No longer solely the territory of lovely old ladies looking for jumpers and teapots, people of all ages are ditching the malls and heading out to thrift shops.


It’s Cheaper

The first point is probably the most obvious. Op shops are usually cheaper than retailers, this means quality items become far more accessible. There are 3 primary kinds of op shop in New Zealand. Firstly there are the huge warehouse style second-hand clothing stores. My local Save Mart is a repurposed supermarket and there are racks upon racks of goodies to hunt through. Secondly, there are the smaller ‘recycle boutique’ types. Shops like these usually deal in high end designer and vintage clothing so the quality is generally very high. The third kind is the smaller charity shops such as The Salvation Army, Red Cross and Hospice which are not for profit and staffed by volunteers. The recycle boutiques are the most expensive, the large Save Marts are mid-range and the charity shops tend to be the cheapest. My favourite recent charity shop bargain was a Stolen Girlfriend’s Club cardigan for NZ$2.50.


It’s Environmentally Friendlier.

We are living in the era of ‘fast fashion’ that is mass produced overseas to be sold in our chain stores. This type of fashion and other goods are almost always over produced meaning 100 million kilos of textile waste is thrown into New Zealand’s landfill every year according to data from the Ministry for the Environment. Other environmental issues, including the emissions from factories and shipping as well as humanitarian concerns for the factory workers, can be offset by buying goods where the environmental price tag has already been paid.


It’s Easier to Experiment with Colour and Style.

As it’s so much cheaper to buy from an op shop you are more likely to try out a few items you wouldn’t normally consider. I’m unlikely to shell out hundreds of dollars for a bright orange military jacket, however if I find one for $10 I’ll probably buy it to play around with and wear when I’ve been listening to punk all day and I’m feeling audacious. The op shop is also great if you want to try your hand at customizing your own clothes. Try cutting some fringing into a $1 shirt or go nuts with the bleach pen or fabric paint. If it all goes wrong put it in the garage and use it to wash the car with.


It’s Genuine

Instead of buying reproduction vintage, buy the real thing! This doesn’t just extend to clothing either. There are plenty of genuine retro household items like furniture, kitchenware, electronics and soft furnishings to be found. Items can be upcycled, remodelled or painted to suit your home and there are plenty of ‘how to’ tutorials on You Tube. There is an amazing sense of satisfaction in recreating something unique and amazing.


It’s Community Spirited

When you spend your money at a charity shop you will directly help vulnerable people in your community and globally. The Red Cross provide relief to those affected by natural disasters and the Hospice provides amazing care for those with terminal illnesses. You will get a fantastic bargain and make a charitable donation all in one hit.


It’s Fun

Op shopping is, in essence, a great big treasure hunt. The real key is to enter into it with low to no expectations and have plenty of time to spare so you can really get stuck into a good bit of rummaging and trawling the racks. It might take time and perseverance but I promise it will all be worth it.


What has been your best op shop find? Let us know in the comments.






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