Today I am wearing a black top I bought at an Opportunity Shop for $5. In New Zealand, these are operated by charities or churches. For years, I was involved with an Op Shop run by the church my mother attended. I have many fond memories of the place.
Mum was one of the women who began this Op Shop. It opened on Tuesday mornings at 10 and was meant to close at 11 but there were always people arriving just as we were trying to tidy up or those reluctant to leave. As well as providing goods for sale, this shop sold a cup of tea or coffee and a sandwich so it was a gathering place of a regular group. These customers were unusual. They insisted that we raise the price of the morning tea from 50 cents to one dollar because it was too cheap. .
Those working in the shop arrived about half an hour earlier to make the sandwiches and open up the bags of goods which had been left on the verandah at the door. Every now and then, these bags were full of garbage not goods and these were always a nasty surprise. We unpacked in the marking room on a long table where we sorted and priced. Sometimes there were differences of opinion about pricing. I was always in favour of the cheapest option because we served a population who lived largely on government benefits and it was better to move things out rather than keep them in the shop. Customers hung around the marking room door ready to pounce on a new or interesting item.
When I first started helping, the Tuesday set up was a lot more arduous. The church hall was used for various activities so all our Op Shop stuff had to be put away in boxes and stored in a back room. Even the tables had to be folded and placed against the wall. Gradually, fewer groups used the hall and we were able to leave our goods out on the tables. We also acquired racks for hanging clothes. These made a great difference.
Changing seasons was busy. As winter approached, we offered two dollar bags of summer merchandise and vice versa for the change from summer to winter . It was amazing how much could be rammed into a plastic shopping bag. It suited us to have few things to store in labelled suitcases in the back room Then the new suitcases were yanked out and unpacked. That was always an extra morning or afternoon work.
I thought I could write about the Op Shop n one post but there is more i’d like to say. I’ll change my title to Part 1 and continue next week.