Fashionistas know that the surest way to score a one-of-a-kind outfit is to scour old shops and vintage stores. Melbourne Op Shop Tours helps you take up the op shop challenge by running small group (max 10 people) tours through various areas of Melbourne. What makes it different from other op shop tours is that instead of being herded around on a big coach, the service is more personal and the tour is conducted with the careful coordination of public transport timetables – which means that your recycled shopping experience is super eco-friendly.
Melbourne Op Shop Tours invited me to one of their tours to experience it for myself, and I decided to follow tour guide Jenny along to the Inner West – a completely unknown part of Melbourne as far as I was concerned.
Starting at 10am at North Williamstown station, we headed to the Williamstown Uniting Church Op Shop (75 Stevedore St, Williamstown +61 3 9397 8066). The first thing I spotted inside this tiny op shop were some Number 14 bentwood chairs. The hooped back chair was designed by Michael Thonet in the 19th century and is now a design classic, to be found in many cafes. The two chairs remaining from the original set of eight cost $5 each! I was so excited that I could have gone home right there and then, mission accomplished.
A quick train ride to Newport then a stroll through suburban streets to the Newport Neighbourhood House and Opportunity Shop (40 Challis Avenue, Newport +61 417 032 617). Jenny’s favourite op shop is easy to miss because it just looks like your standard low-set weatherboard house. But now I’m sharing the secret with you – enter through the garden gate and you’ll find yourself in the biggest jumble sale of your life. It would take hours to sift through the rooms of men’s clothes, kid’s clothes, shoes, glassware, kitchenware, toys and women’s clothes – we’re talking mountains, tables, shelves and boxes of stuff everywhere you look.
A little overwhelmed, I decided to focus on women’s scarves and came away with three to my liking ($1 each) while also picking up a silver cake stand ($5) and small cut glass ice bucket ($5).
In a feat of op-shopping strength, one of our tour members Nathan (an intrepid and experienced op shopper) decided to tip out the whole box of ties in order to do a thorough sorting on the floor. In the end, he came away with 47 ties ($1 each) which included designer ties from YSL and Versace. What does a man do with that many ties? Nathan’s strategy is to wear them all once, clean them up and sell them on eBay for around $10-$15 each. So even if you’re not necessarily into the charity aspect of op shopping, it seems that with a bit of effort it can be a lucrative hobby.
Also, check out these fabulous, unworn shoes found on top of the mountain of shoes spilling out from under the verandah. These beautiful heels cost $2. I’m so jealous!
This was easily the winning shop for me – it’s so good that if you’re a keen op shopper, it’s worth making a trip especially to carefully work your way through the house.