Being on a budget is like being on a diet. Suddenly the world seems chock full of desirable items you might not have looked twice at before.
And there’s really nothing like a bargain is there? King of these has got to be the prize you’ve been eyeing which you pick up for a fraction of the original price. It’s that very basic human drive which keeps Trademe humming. I have to confess I’ve generally found Trademe annoying and lacking that real world thrill of the hunt (although this visual search version Rummage is a bit more fun).
Therefore, my preferred bargain destination for a retail fix on a budget, is the op shop. Even amongst op shops around here, there is a hierarchy. You’ve got to know where to focus your miserly attentions. The Hospice Shops, for example, have wised up and present their wares in a professional manner. You pay accordingly, but they tend to attract a higher quality level of goods. And of course nobody could begrudge a slightly higher price, given the funding goes to such a good cause.
The Salvation Army and the Red Cross, though equally laudable in their aims, generally run a lower price, higher volume game (however see the link above for a clever deal the Red Cross is doing with Country Road clothing). And although well picked over by Trademe resellers, there are still surprising bargains to be had for the frequent and discerning shopper.
For the crafty, such as my super-arty friend Carolyn, there is a treasure trove of repurposable art materials waiting to be transformed into desirable contemporary objets d’art. If you’re a frequent flyer, quite often the shop will hold items for you, and of course I always try to drop off more than I pick up in my endless Sisyphean (some might say doomed) household decluttering mission.
Woollen blankets are suddenly terribly trendy amongst crafters, and the old Princess and Onehunga blankets are not as thick on the ground as they were. However I’m looking to make hot water bottles covers and cushions, so I’m happy with fragments and damaged blankets which still go for a couple of dollars considering the amount you’d pay at Centrepoint Fabrics for a similar length of good quality wool.
I love me a little handmade charm and the braided rug I made for Mr 12’s room was mostly put together from old denim and cotton duvet covers from the Sallies. All up, the material cost around $20. The equivalent, even from cheapie Spotlight, would have set me back much more and been of lower quality. And although I do admire the skill and art of quilting, I can’t help feeling that there’s something slightly counterintuitive about buying brand new fabric to chop into little bits to make into another brand new thing. Buy at the op shop and you help divert clothing away from landfills. Yes, and all the smugness of recycling can be yours too at no extra cost!
I find the op shop particularly handy for picking up different sized cake tins and other kitchen basics (Six white ramekins for $2 anyone? Designer zester for $3?). I was prepared to splash out six whole dollars on a new shirt today, only to find that there was a half price sale on, so I forked out just $3 on a gently worn shirt. At other times in my life, I’m slightly embarrassed to say I might have spent up to 100x more for a similar garment which would have looked pretty much the same after two months’ wear.
Although like any addiction, retail will always have its pull for me, I am trying to resist the siren call of the new and choose the wiser path where I can do less damage overall. Wish me luck!
For your thrifty earworm songs today, you have a choice of Thrift Shop by Macklemore, I Need a Dollar By Aloe Black or One Day off Second Hand Planet by Opshop. You’re welcome!
What’s your favourite recycle boutique? Do tell!