The Importance of Op-Shops.

Did you know that op shops around Australia do more than fundraise?

Anglicare Victoria’s Treasure Chest Op Shop in Lilydale, Victoria, is truly a treasure trove of second hand items, carefully sorted and displayed. Just around the corner is the Furniture Warehouse, essential for anyone looking for good quality or eclectic furniture.

Op shops such as these contribute a great deal to Australian society, from fundraising for various causes right through to social and environmental benefits.

Raising funds

Op shops play an invaluable role in fundraising for the Australian charity sector.

Lesley Conway, Team Leader of the Treasure Chest Op-Shop, is optimistic that proceeds from the op-shop will soon hit the significant milestone of $2 million raised since Anglicare Victoria took over the shop.

Proceeds from the op shop support the work of Anglicare Victoria. In particular, proceeds have helped a local program called Peaceful Warriors, a 10-week program providing mentorship for “at risk” boys aged 9 to 12 years old. The program promotes positive social skills, explores managing intense emotions and helps improve self-esteem, culminating in an adventure camp for boys and male mentors.

Op shops across Australia raise money for a wide range of causes, and by choosing your op shop you can contribute to the area that appeals to you.

A vital role for volunteers

Volunteers are the lifeblood of op shops. Without their contribution, op shops could not function as they do.

Volunteers also benefit from contributing their time and labour. The volunteers at Treasure Chest reported enjoying the camaraderie experienced within the team and the satisfaction of knowing they were making a valuable contribution to the community. For other volunteers, it can be a path to getting back into employment or a source of self-esteem, particularly if the volunteer is dealing with retrenchment or mental health challenges.

A community hub

For customers, op shops are not just a place to find affordable fashion. They are also a community hub, and a safe place where people can drop in and find a caring, listening ear. Many lonely or isolated people regularly visit their local op shop for someone to talk to.

Reducing landfill

The recent War on Waste documentary on ABC revealed that Australians are some of the biggest – and the most wasteful – consumers of fashion in the world, disposing of 6,000 kilograms of fashion and textile waste every 10 minutes. Buying in op shops reduces the reliance on “fast fashion”, that is, cheap, poor quality clothes, and reduces the amount of clothing going into landfill.

Ethical clothing

Buying clothing that has been ethically produced – made by workers (not children) in safe environments with acceptable working conditions – is hard. Truly ethically made clothing can be expensive and hard to find, and the real source of many manufacturers difficult to determine. When buying your clothes from op shops, you are not supporting goods manufactured by unethical producers.

Support your local op shop

So get out there and support your local op shops. Donate your good quality used items and find that fabulous household or fashion item – you’re virtually guaranteed to find something that is truly unique

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