When I stepped into the op shop my eyes spied it dead ahead. The volunteer was just trying to fit it to the mannequin when I stopped her.
“Don’t bother.” I said “Just hand it to me. I need to try it on.”
I turned to my husband. “I know I don’t need this but I’m telling you now it’s coming home with me.”
In the change room I slipped it on and admired the fit, perfect as if it was made for me. It was a jacket, zip front, neat collar, two slit pockets in a timeless design, in plain smooth red leather. Stroking the soft leather, I was reluctant to remove it but as I hadn’t yet seen the price tag and needed to pay for it, removal was now a necessity. I tugged on the bottom of the jacket for one last self-satisfied inspection. Yes, it would do. It had to be purchased.
When I handed it to the cashier she smiled and commented, “Nice.”
“Yes, I thought so. I don’t really need it but I do really want it. So now it’s mine,” I said.
“That will be $12,” she said.
Happily, I tapped my card and waltzed out the door.
It’s the thrill of the hunt in a secondhand shop, the triumphal march home and sharing the news with likeminded folk who appreciate the moment when you’ve bought something truly wonderful. My red leather jacket is just fabulous, I suspect it might even be magical.
Soon after its purchase I received notice that a monologue I had written was to be performed by an actor and filmed on Mother’s Day so I went wearing the jacket along with a dozen supporters and watched this moment in literary history.
Later in winter I was invited to shoot a video log so it seemed only fitting that I should wear the jacket as it matched the bright red car I was driving. The leather jacket and I got to have a crack at stunt driving, a truly unique experience.
Recently, I returned to the shop where I had purchased the jacket and told the volunteers about the lucky red jacket’s adventures and they were all very happy to hear how marvellous a time we have had together. They asked me to write the story and send in a photo so they could hang it on the shop wall.
I make a habit of visiting op shops when I am on holidays in remote towns or looking to kill time. Over the years I have landed some amazing bargains. Attending my girlfriend’s wedding we were posing for the official guest-with-bride photo, I leaned over and whispered in her ear “Like my dress?” She nodded. “It was a $1.50,” I said and we were both captured laughing heartily in the photo.
My impossible to buy for millennial son was thrilled with a silver tea strainer I bought him one Christmas for $7 and my husband brags about the Alessi teapot he snatched for $5.
Only a fortnight ago, I was thrilled to find a free parking spot near a city farmers’ market. As I walked back to my car, I noticed a Vinnies in a side street.
“Shall we just go and have a peek?” I asked my husband.
“Sure, why not?” he said.
So, two designer dresses, one in silk, a designer T-shirt, a pair of brand new sunglasses and a small pair of binoculars later we discovered there’s no such thing as free parking near a trendy farmers’ market.
There are dedicated pages on social media all followed by people who enjoy the thrill of the hunt and being environmentally responsible by consuming less new items and reusing or repurposing goods and clothing. Naturally, there are those who just love a bargain.
Recently, I went interstate to visit a friend who I had known since my 20s only to discover that she had died unexpectedly the morning I arrived. I left her a voicemail she never heard and it was devastatingly sad. But knowing her and knowing she would not want me to be moping around I decided to take a trek though all the places I would normally visit with her. The trek included op shopping and I bought a dress that she would have admired. I wore it happily to all the surf clubs and restaurants we had previously visited. Toasting my friend in this dress on the beach, I bid her farewell. She would have liked that gesture. So now whenever I wear that dress, I feel like she’s come out with me for the day and there’s great comfort in that small gesture.
If you’ve never been op shopping you really ought to try it.
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