We purchased our first home via auction, a rather nerve wracking yet exhilarating experience. Flushed with success we began attending farm auctions and furnished our home with our finds, on a shoestring budget we were selective in our bidding. Eventually we were to also discover the world of garage sales, a story for another day.
Months after purchasing our home we were expecting our first babe, this was when I discovered the attraction of the op-shop hunt. It wasn’t long before I realised that one could dress yourself and your loved ones well by selectively searching for quality amongst the dross. Years on I’ve continued to maintain my passion for the hunt of a bargain and have learnt a few ‘tricks of the trade’ along the way.
- Go regularly
Making your rounds through the shops on a weekly basis will generally score you a great find or two, mid week’s a good time as they’ve had time to sort and place out the weekend donations.
Being a home educating mama I’m not able to go regularly these days, so we make an occasion of it in the holidays, our ‘girls day out’ that we look forward to.
- Better quality items in particular towns and suburbs
Some towns/suburbs have better quality items, though the pricing will be higher to reflect that.
Whilst our town of 20,000 has 8 op-shops it has a lower socio-economic population so the clothing reflects that.
Whenever I visit a nearby seaside town I try to visit the op-shop, the quality is better, though the pricing higher
- Some op-shops are worth checking, some are not
After years of shopping there are some op-shops in our town I don’t even bother checking. They never have the items or the quality I am looking for.
Yet there are other shops I check as often as I can and on our big day out we’re likely to find a bargain or three, though bargain hunting comes with no guarantees.
In one shop I often find items for myself, in another I’m more likely to find articles for the children.
- Be aware of, and utilise sale days and sales.
In our town one shop reduces clothes to half price on Tuesdays, other shops periodically have
sales, either all clothes half price or $5 a bag, I can fit a huge amount in those bags;)
- Never ignore a bargain
Whilst you may be shopping for a particular item, if you see a quality item for another family member or one that you can use ‘down the track’ grab it.
ie when shopping for size 1 clothing for my baby, if I see a quality item in a size or two larger I buy it, particularly if the pricing is minimal.
- Cast your eye quickly along the racks
It comes with practice but you can learn to scan and save yourself time, particularly if shopping with children then you are a heat seeking missile.
Many shops kindly array ladies clothing via colours. In your initial scan you can gravitate immediately to the colours that complement you, skipping the ones that make you look unattractive.
If the shop isn’t set up that way, don’t even give colours that are not ‘you’ a second look.
Flipping through the potentials assess the fabrics, if it’s not a fabric/texture you like then don’t even bother removing from the rack.
Does the style make you feel good? I now have a sense for what cut is flattering on me and what is not. Even though an article may hit my ticks on every other level I don’t bother trying on the unflattering (for me) style.
Home in on quality labels, they last the distance and are most flattering.
- Do a quality control check
Think you have a potential bargain? Do a quality control check or you will be disappointed when you discover the imperfections at home. Sometimes it may only require a simple repair that you are happy to undertake but its much nicer to know prior to purchase.
So what to check for?
- Waist elastic
- Puckers/stretched fabric
- Shiny spots
- Can the outfit/material be altered to still be useful?
For many years I rejected clothing articles that were nearly but not quite right. It’s only recently that I’ve discovered the world of upcycling (cool name) and realised that a simple alteration, or maybe major one, can transform a nearly to a match.
A snip here, a tuck there, a removal of a ruffle, a basting of a seam can make a nearly a match. Perhaps you can a rip an outfit totally apart to produce material for a whole new outfit, or you may score a doona case that can give you material for a project.
Ask yourself though, will you do it, if it’s going to sit unaltered in your mending pile, leave it.
I never buy underwear, I mean really!
Be very selective. I have scored brand new or barely worn shoes, I’m comfortable with that. But I won’t purchase worn shoes, someone else’s foot impression, not a good idea.
Most shops wash all clothes before placing on racks. I always rewash though when I come home, I prefer to know the clothes are clean, and we’re a scent free household and mostly they smell of scented washing powder.
*Do you enjoy a good bargain hunt? Any tips to add?
Are you now inspired to ‘give it a go’? Do share your finds, I always love hearing of a bargain.