‘The many benefits I’ve found in charity retail’

May 29, 2019
You're not just getting a bargain when you buy from charity shops, says Jacqui Lee. Source: Getty Images

I’m still a champion of charity shops and thought a bit of rundown on how shopping at op shops can really help others, reminding you that the $4 or $5 you spend in ‘Vinnies’ can be used to give an advantage to someone else. It works this way… Vinnies has thousands of members across the state volunteering their time to provide support and assistance. This allows them to specifically meet the welfare and emergency relief requirements of the immediate community.

These volunteers, often work closely to provide clothing, food, furniture and other assistance to people experiencing disadvantage, so all the money you bring to them goes to help others. Of course there will be rents and insurance, but in general it is ploughed back in to help others. That money can then provide bus tickets for a job searcher, a hot meal for a homeless person, or prescription cost for a pensioner. Those are things I like to know are happening.

I have been buying from charity shops for many years; I am an expert with a great eye for a bargain. My best buys are still staples in my wardrobe, the Black Pepper raincoat for $2 for instance is perfect and also reverses red to black! The evening dress for $7, the wonderful glamorous chiffon and flocked velvet coats for $2 that are designer labels! I could go on — as at least half the things I own are charity buys.

My husband and I live on a very reduced budget, no extra money for glamorous clothes. This is the main reason I started shopping at charity shops. There is a real joy when I find an authentic woollen sweater for a few dollars, if you look at the price of a ball of wool, it is obviously a good buy. I also buy earrings, so I have some of every colour for my outfits, and sunglasses because I always lose the good ones. A friend found some Ray Bans for $5!

Jacqui Lee considers herself an expert when it comes to finding a bargain! Source: Jacqui Lee

I have also bought good clean quilt covers and curtains, a fabulous revolving knife holder, full of great knives for $5 and buy cheap plates when they have 10 for a dollar, as I can use them for my art … I mix paint on them.

I also feel that when we shop this way, we are doing our bit to help the planet and save the horror of those cheap clothes flooding our supermarkets and stores; most of them are made by slave labour, and of such dreadful material, they really only make good dusters after a few washes. Now and then I buy something and mostly regret it. Ten years or more ago there were better materials and workmanship. I am also a label ‘snob’.

Part of my shopping involves ‘recycling’ and taking things that are still brand new looking and don’t fit to a charity shop in a different area. I feel this allows someone else to have the benefit. I do feel I live a charmed life, who wouldn’t when they find good quality clothes for $2 that sold originally for hundreds? It is my small bonus in life. I also enjoy the hunting, op shopping is something of a sport for me.

I appreciate it when someone compliments my outfit. I tally the cost of what it was to put it all together and sometimes it’s less than the price of a fish and chip meal, Recently I wore my $2 red raincoast, a black fine knit sweater (roughly $3) and a pair of hippie-style trousers (around $4). My best buys have been at a small local charity shop, with a $2 clothes rail — that’s less than a cup of coffee! Help the planet, help yourself and have fun!

Do you enjoy clothes shopping at charity shops? What bargains have you found?

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