One stop shop? or Top-shop? : Thrift shopping and our Social Consciousness

 I love a good pair of kicks. I love a shopping trip.

Forgive my fashionable wiles, dear readers, for this will not be a deeply political post, but it will be an interesting one [!]

I was walking out of an Op-Shop a couple of weeks ago, with a pair of shoes, a necklace and two copies of their In-House publication [a ‘pricey’ 70 cents each] and I thought to myself:

Are op-shops making people more socially conscious?

Are people actually connected with their purchases — their materialism is supporting those less fortunate, but is this making people more socially conscious?

Good Works Logo

In my own mind, initially, I begged to differ. I disagreed with my own thought[!]
I’m an  avid op-shopper, but I viewed my purchases as ‘shopping’, not so much in the sense of a ‘charity donation’.
Some peruse pages of books, websites, some peruse coffee shops and bars. I peruse coat hangers, I rummage, I try, I buy — as my form of relaxation. Among my friends, I have a solid reputation as a glamorous bargain hunter.

Emporio Armani flats for $15, a Ginger and Smart vest for $10, Saachi heels for $9, Melissa shoes for $8, Top shop ankle boots [brand new with original tags] $30, Sass and Bide dress for $30,  Pleather Midi skirt for $20, Shakuhachi dress for $7, 3 x H&M dresses for $7 each, RMK and Wittner wedges for $10, a Zara dress for $8, a Cue blazer for $4 etc. — are just a small number of my op-shop purchases over the last year.

And as I get, I give. I am a twice annual donor to my nearest op-shop[s]. If I donate at a specific shop, I tend not to shop there for a good couple of months. So I ‘disconnect’, in a sense, from my donations.
I like the exploration involved with op-shopping and vintage, exploring people’s recommended shops. Helps me see more of my city and connect with people[!]

“Cool story, PIK. But what’s your point?!”

My curiosity got the better of me, and I took to Twitter, and got in contact with St Vincent de Paul WA [@VinniesWA] and exchanged emails with Joanne Hill on the topic!

1. How many Op Shops do St Vincent De Paul have in WA, and Australia?

43 Vinnies Shops in WA and 622 Australia wide



2. When I drop a a bag of clothes in a Vinnies bin, what process does it go through to get to a coat hanger?

A truck collects the content from the bins and takes it to the central depot in Osborne Park. From there the clothes are sorted into groups according to season or style. For example, Vinnies has two shops in Northbridge and Fremantle that are specifically dedicated to retro clothing. Clothes are then packaged up and sent to the shops where the volunteers unpack them and hang them up in the shop.


3. When I buy something from an Op Shop, whereabouts does my money go? Do your Op Shops exist purely for fundraising purposes?

With a few exceptions where we have paid managers our shops are run by volunteers which means that any money made goes directly to supporting our Good Works programs. In other words the money goes towards helping the Society to continue to provide its support services.




4. Overall, how do Op Shops contribute to the mission and/or vision of St Vincent De Paul?

The shops provide important funding for the Society so that it can continue to provide its good works. The shops also provide opportunities for volunteering and can be a great social network for some people. The shops are also an important avenue for recycling and minimising wastage and landfill. It is an avenue in which some people’s unwanted goods can be used to help those who are in need. Some of the people who come to the Society seeking assistance, for example people who are unable to clothe themselves or their children, can be given a voucher allowing them to collect certain items of clothing from a Vinnies store.





What did I think?

After having [what I thought to be my hard hitting] questions answered, I have had a change of heart about op-shops. They don’t just exist to perpetuate any kind of materialism, they exist for so many good reasons. To connect people, to give people opportunity, to give people clothes on their back, to prevent waste, to prevent landfill.
More than anything, to give clothes,and more importantly – people, a better second life.


Tweet @politicsinkicks

me your thoughts!

A very big thank you to St Vincent de Paul WA, and to Jo Hill — for their fantastic work, and for taking the time to reply to my emails!

Hope you enjoyed reading as much as I enjoyed writing!


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