The Joy of “Op” Shops

I have already been asked what "Op" shops are - Well I should explain that years ago they would be been called second-hand shops, but there is that old feeling often totally justifiable - that 2nd hand stores are usually pretty grotty shops full of aged furniture and bedding.

Certainly, the first "OP" shop was to the best my knowledge, started by the wives of officers in the garrison town of Colchester in Essex in the late 1940's - The original idea was to be able to offer better class goods than the wives of "The Other Ranks" might normally have been able to afford.

The idea certainly caught on, and it was found that a good number of civilians were taking advantage of the available goods mainly clothing in those days. And that I believe was the launch of Opportunity Shops which seemed to arise all over Britain and New Zealand.

leaders in the field were The Salvation Army and many other Churches and other fundraising charities like the local Ambulance Service, and prominent amongst these the Hospice Shops Animal Shelters, etc. Today, of course, everything has changed since those early days with so many Stores being staffed by volunteers and their wares are tastefully displayed.

I must admit to being a reluctant customer way back then, but eventually egged on by my Wife I did venture inside one such establishment and to my surprise, I saw a sparkling new Tweed jacket which I bought for something like $10 - and today all these years later, I still wear it occasionally.

Now in my latter years and lamenting the disappearance of most record shops, I make a regular trip to the Op Shops in Otaki (New Zealand) where I have found some excellent Compact Discs to add to my rapidly expanding collection.

And that is my explanation of the "OP" Shops - if you haven't visited one yet I would add it to your bucket list!

Recommend0 recommendations
Published in Senior Chatters


  1. starlette

    Hi Drummer, we have many of the OP/Charity shops around…….have to say they do very well out of me as in donations of clothing, household goods……….many people rely on these now days for clothing, they are excellent for toys, books, DVDs CDs………long live the charity shops, helping the community and worthy charities….

  2. rose1943

    I think they’re the best. So many good things hardly used, good brands, such resizable prices. We used to have about 5 of them waking distance for me, litteby little they closed and ritzy stores, gyms, etc. moved in. Neigrhood changed, demographics. All my best lamps came from them. They were made so well. Clothes more tge style I like. All money goes to chatrity and that’s the best!

  3. grandmaj

    I go to the op shop to buy blankets for my dogs, normally can get one for a few dollars. So I just throw the old one out and buy a new one every few weeks. Also have got some ornaments for when I make my fairy gardens etc with the grandkids. Also good for craft items. Just good looking around in there really.

  4. grandmaj

    P.S. I like you Starlette donate my clothes to the op shops. But choose which ones I donate to, one here is the Salvation Army. I know they help people that need it as a friend of my daughters was in a bad situation, and the Salvation Army helped her with furniture and kitchen items. They were not real flash, but she was so grateful to have a bed to sleep on for the children

  5. drummer Post author

    Hello grandmaj – it seems we all agree that the OP is like a two way street – we buy well and they raise their funds for whatever charity – a real two way benefit!

  6. ralph

    Hi newcomer from OZ – yes I have visited many Op shops in OZ in the big cities and small towns – where would we be without them – they seem to get us away from the ‘brand new’ for a while and the ‘brand new prices too. Some can get chocker blocked – I remember walking around one in Victoria OZ and nearly knocking everything over – very uncomfortably in fact

    1. drummer Post author

      Hello, Ralph, I was wondering if there were OP shops in Australia also – I guess they are really worldwide – I’m always on the prowl!~

  7. grandmaj

    Hi Ralph, I know what you mean. One of my daughters loves looking around the op shop, but she used to wait until I went with her so I could wait outside with the pram, as there was no room to be looking around and having a pram with you. Now all the kids at school so she can go in on her own now 🙂

    1. drummer Post author

      My Wife and I make a regular fortnightly trip north to Otaki – a small country town where we can get good coffee & biscuits and four Op Shops!

  8. roseinbloom

    Like others, I like Op Shops and I have never heard that term before but like it. I like to buy purses and shoes mostly, but I have found other things also. I still have a vase made by Native Americans out of the clay in their area that is beautiful. I paid $5 for it in about 1985. I also like to go to home estate sales, but many are being done on the internet.
    I have also wound up with junk that I didn’t need, so it pays to be selective. I am in the declutter phase of life.

  9. drummer Post author

    As usual, your comments are right on the mark – it is clearly buyer beware. It is so easy to pick up something then have second thoughts. In that event, I usually return the offending item probably to a different shop!