Op shops... A man's point of view

‘Op’ shops are wonderful places! They help to keep the wife happy, they cheer and occupy her,  they provide a challenge for her ability to win a bargain and all at no great expense to me! Something we blokes should encourage at all times.

Not only that, but she’s brilliant at picking items! In fact, she has been so successful, most of her friends now indulge in the sport as well. All looking for designer labels at ridiculous prices. Most only worn once by someone who daren’t be seen in it again, for fear of ridicule among her friends.




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It’s a game played with vigor and very occasionally even rancor, in specialised shops in just about every town in Australia and much of the rest of the world. I admit I’ve never seen any actual fights break out in one of them, but I have seen some very heated arguments over the proposed ownership of some desired piece of silk or tweed!

These shops are usually run, on one side by the dedicated volunteers of charities and churches, and on the other side by the many thousands of people doing spring cleaning at home who provide the free stock the op shops sell.

It really is a wonderful system. It recycles masses of goods, not just clothing, which would otherwise have been thrown out in the rubbish. It provides a cheap source of good quality items to people and families who might otherwise have had to go without. It raises enormous amounts of money the organisations can use for further good works in their communities and it provides amusement for my wife! I would call that the perfect circle.

Clothing does take up a good eighty percent of the space in most op shops and ninety percent of that will usually be ladies wear. This may at first sight seem a little unfair on the male members of the community, but of course there are a couple of simple explanations for this.

The first is that the “op shop ethic” seems to appeal more to ladies than to men. They feel more comfortable there than men do. The second reason is as hinted above. A woman will only wear a garment a few times at most and then wants to change it for something different, so she passes on her “worn” stuff to an op shop while it is usually still in very good condition, and looks elsewhere for something else to suit her.

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A man however, without such fashion delusions, won’t throw out a suit or shirt until there is very little wear left in it. He’ll buy a suit to get married in. He will then wear it for many years to any major social event until it gets so far out of fashion, (or fit!), that he can only wear it for gardening. After a year or two of this, no self respecting op shop would want to use it for anything but rags. About the only time you’ll find an influx of male clothing, is when some poor bloke dies and his wife gets rid of all his suits as quickly as she can, to provide useful extra wardrobe space for her!

Anyway, my wife loves them and I love going there with her too. I love the inherent untidiness of the place, the moth-ball smell, the weird stuff people sometimes bring in and the happy faces of the cheerful volunteers, there for the very genuine reason that they want to help others less fortunate than themselves. Good luck to them all, they provide one of the most useful services in our community!

image: David Jackmanson