As a university student, everything that I buy is from an op-shop.
If you are a student studying full-time, living out of home and working a job on the side, the budget can get pretty tight.
When I was 15, I entered my first op-shop by choice. You see, prior to then, I thought op-shops were dingy places that my dad took me too only to get some new braces and maybe a Jesus magnet.
But when my friends in high school started wearing second-hand jeans and weird scarves in their hair, I realised I needed to get on the op-shop bandwagon.
Op-shopping guarantees you don’t have to wait once a year for your mum to buy you a new wardrobe. You can take charge, and get some good pieces for affordable prices. Here are some good places to start your op-shopping ventures:
Brunswick is the closest burb to Unimelb campus where a number of op-shops are in pretty close proximity.
You can also catch a sneaky tram 19 ride between classes and pop some tags.
Beginning at Sydney Road you’ll come across a St Vincent de Paul, and working your way down you’ll find a Savers, Scavengers and Christ Church Opportunity Shop.
St Vincent de Paul and Scavengers offer slightly pricey items, only because they are ‘vintage’ labelled, but nonetheless beautiful pieces. Savers provide a haven of choice because their warehouse is so huge.
Don’t forget to bring your student card on Sundays because students receive 20% off items at Savers. I would recommend ‘liking’ their Facebook page, because their 50% off sales happen spontaneously, and those bargains literally blow your mind.
My housemates have raved about the amazing stock the Brotherhood of St Lawrence in Brunswick East has to offer. A few blocks east of Sydney Road ( or take the tram up from Lygon), this op-shop is a tad segregated from the cluster of second hand stores, but is worth considering especially for students moving house or leaving home and in desperate need of furniture.
For larger items like cupboards, tables and bed frames, don’t be afraid to negotiate prices, especially if you are buying bulk. The staff are lovely too, which is always nice.
Brunswick and Smith St are a little awkward to get to via uni, so I would recommend a bike ride, or the bus.
Like Brunswick, Fitzroy offers a fun cluster of your traditional op-shop with some specially featured retro stores such as St Vincent De Paul (smith st), Vintage Sole, Lost and Found and Sheila Vintage.
However, they are slightly pricey compared to classic secondary shops like Salvos Store and St Mark’s Opportunity Shop.
Don’t be afraid of a rummage because you never know what you’ll find. Plus, they provide good inspiration for style ideas that you can always seek out at cheaper stores along the way.
Would highly recommend a day trip in this burb to wreak all the good threads.
I will emphasise that suburbs provide better resources when it comes to op-shopping.
The Melbourne CBD isn’t known for its second hand goods. However, an op-shop located in The Royal Arcarde (a little side small off Burke St, opposite Myer) is a little gem. I’ll admit I’m not sure who it is owned by, but their collection of clothes, although petite, are cute and stylish. More importantly, it’s affordable.
The next closest thing to an op-shop in the CBD would be Retro Star off Flinders Lane. Items within budget include earrings, chokers and scrunchies. But don’t despair, because their $5-$10 Warehouse Sales in Brunswick and St Kilda’s provide brilliant mark downs, and are worth checking out on the weekends.
Here are some little tips for getting around. Take it from me, each of these items are necessary to achieve a worthwhile op-shop experience.
- Myki: I know you think you know, but you will forget. And those Myki inspectors know where broke students be heading. Don’t forget.
- Bring cash: there is usually $10 eftpos minimum in most op-shops. Avoid that awkward hike to an ATM without your friends.
- Canvas bags/backpack: some op-shops avoid giving out plastic bags. Be prepared and gather a recycled bag or two before you head out. It’s good for the environment too!
- Student Card: keep an eye out for student discounts, and whip it out for fun times
- Water: If you plan a medley of shops, stay hydrated kiddies. A lot of the burbs don’t have public bubblers. So save a ridiculous $10 for a Mt.Franklin and bring your own bottle.
- Be strong: Sometimes op-shops offer too much temptation. Remember your budget, remember your life goals, and don’t, I repeat, don’t by that corduroy vest. You ain’t no Sherlock.
- Denim Jacket: get a denim jacket. Because everyone should have one.
So, with my favourite op-shops located and some general tips under your belt, I wish you luck and hope your wardrobe for be sufficiently replenished.