The humble op-shop has evolved into a retail destination in its own right, leading to expansion for Albury-Wodonga Lifeline, which has opened a new retail outlet in Wodonga.
The High Street shop complements the charity’s existing outlet in Wilson Street Albury.
Traditionally the haunt of those on a lower income, Retail Manager Carol Britton says op-shops are now a retail destination for those who want to grab a great bargain, support the charity and/or are concerned about the impact of fast fashion on the environment.
“Increasingly we see people who don’t want a garment that will fall apart after the first wash and wear, or just don’t want to buy something new,” Carol said.
“We have some beautiful items – some still have the original tags on them. It’s quite fashionable to buy from an op-shop.”
Volunteer and Albury Wodonga Community College student, Charlisse White said she’s always been a keen op-shopper.
“I love to find a statement piece and then find other pieces to go with that. On a student’s budget the price is also really important.”
But for Charlisse, the new store is giving her more than a bargain.
“I’m doing VCAL at the Indie School at the community college and had a three hour wait between school finishing and catching my bus home to Corowa, so I came in to see if I could volunteer.
“It’s great, I really love it and can interact with the customers and also the staff here three afternoons a week and I’m gaining great work experience,” Charlisse said.
Although the shop had only had a week of trading, Carol said she had already noticed differences between the Albury and Wodonga markets.
“We’re selling a lot more of the bric-a-brac: some items, real treasures, which had sat in the Albury store for some time have sold straight away here. Also, because we’re located close to another five op-shops people have the opportunity to park and then see what we all have to offer.
“It’s a bit like the fast food chains that locate close to each other. People are hungry, you just have to work out how to entice them into your business,” Carol said.
Carol is confident the new bridal and special occasion wear room will be a winner.
“It’s a room with a beautiful fireplace and will have a chandelier. As we sort we’re already putting aside some beautiful gowns and outfits. It’s very exciting,” she said.
And for those thinking of volunteering, Carol has this message.
“Even if people can only volunteer for a couple of hours a week that helps. For many of our volunteers it’s a social outlet, but it’s also the chance, as Charlisse has found, to gain valuable experience in retail and support the vital telephone counselling Lifeline offers,” Carol said.
You can find the Lifeline Wodonga Shop: 61 High Street, Wodonga.
Albury: 429 Wilson Street, Albury
Visit their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pg/Lifelineshopaw/about/