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Nine Things You Find In All Small Town Op Shops


By Emma Raho


No I’m not talking about the fashionable second hand boutiques in chic areas of the city, or the painfully hip op shops on K Rd. I mean the good old small town charity shops run by a woman called Mavis sporting a bubble perm and a glass eye along with her friend Liz who exists as 90% away with the fairies and 10% Red Door by Elizabeth Arden. A place where a nice, high neck blouse is considered a treasure, a fake LV clutch is marked up to the ceiling and you can get a Stolen Girlfriends jumpsuit for an actual steal.

Charity shop cashiers in the early stages of training

I buy almost everything second hand and if you’re a frequent op shopper like me you’ll know – that nestled in amongst the genuinely awesome finds – there are certain items that you can bet your life savings will be robustly present in these types of second hand utopias.

1. A Charles and Diana commemorative mug or plate. Ah, July 1981 was a heck of a month and we still have the China to prove it. The obligatory Charles and Di merch will no doubt be teetering in pride of place on the top of the overcrowded kitchenware shelf. Don’t forget to curtsy. 

The chips are part of the experience

2. Terrifying dolls. It’s 10/10 going to come alive in the night and stab you to death. A buck fifty? Lol, why not. Great for terrifying unwanted guests and next door’s noisy children. 

There’s actually no way this thing isn’t cursed

3. Giant shapeless wool cardigan someone’s gran knitted them. Could potentially be re-purposed if the wool didn’t feel like a green scourer against any exposed skin. The second it gets near a washing machine it’s going to instantly shrink to half it’s size and go bobbly. Could potentially be used as a prop for a masochist or dominatrix.      

I can feel this picture

4. Those weird Tomato, Mushroom, Chicken, and Onion Soup mugs that you buy because they make you feel nostalgic but then hang around your kitchen like awkward, clunky, reminders of your package food lifestyle.

Bold of you to suggest a recipe

5. Dented aluminium saucepans with ill fitting lids. They get dragged to the op shop for a damn good reason, leave them be.

Everything you cook in these pots will taste like deceased estate.

6. Porcelain statues of milkmaids, ballet dancers and inexplicably pigs in the bath. Look, these types of knick knacks used to be the height of sophistication and proud housewives would spend hours dusting and arranging them in between smoking Lambert and Butlers and teasing their hair out. Let’s bring them back! No, let’s not.

Imagine this delight eyeballing you from the mantelpiece.

7. VHS’. Just why though? No one has a video player anymore. Just hoof them straight into a skip and leave room for more scratched Wiggles DVDs little Billy grew out of.

80s and 90s storage solutions

8. Grim looking well worn shoes. I’ve never wanted to take a hospital bacteria counter to anything more than a pair of these puppies. Even when I spot a nice pair I just can’t get the image of the previous owners soupy feet with the delightful chance of verrucas and athlete’s foot out of my head. That’s a no from me.


9. Plastic beads. The jewellery section is always by the counter so Mavis and co can keep their eyes open for sneaky shoplifters. The entire collection is worth $7 tops but frankly, they’re not prepared to take the risk.

There’s a treasure in there somewhere




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