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The Ultimate Secondhand Guide To Melbourne

The diversity and uniqueness of secondhand shop paraphernalia means that one can find the most interesting and bizarre items if one is willing to look. Not to mention, they’re are a better financial decision if you’re particularly skint, or don’t fancy the speedy and wasteful world of ‘fast fashion’. Op-shopping is all about “the hunt”: scouring the bargain bins and cheapo racks, flicking through records, scanning merrily until you find something you really can’t bear to leave without. Melbourne’s particular generosity in donating to op-shops means there’s always a wealth of great stuff to find. So here are the best ones around town.

#1 Grub Street Bookshop, Fitzroy

The much-loved Fitzroy institution’s current co-proprietor Liam Jose is keen to make it an even more diverse and inviting space; it’s still one of Melbourne’s best secondhand bookshops, but the shop is becoming home to live events as well as poetry and prose.

“Our last gig was Luke Howard; he does mood pieces, like film score. That was really nice, we had mulled wine being served. We’ve got a residency coming up with a sketch comedy group, they’re running workshops every Wednesday throughout July/August. We’ve also got the launch of The Student, which is the new neo-noir book by Iain Ryan.”

Jose wants the shop to be beacon of unique events in Melbourne’s inner-north, as well as simply a nice hang-out spot.

“We’re also doing the second Noir at the Bar event; it started in the States and we’ve been hosting the first Melbourne events- a bunch of crime-fiction writers who do readings of their work, while booze is served. We also wanna start doing simple things like drip coffee, and more comfortable furniture, so it’s a hangout space. We already have people that come to study and hang out in the back, which I like.”

#2 MS Op Shop, Fairfield

I like to keep my op-shopping secular; one must vote with their wallet, after all. MS op-shops benefit MS Australia and are still fabulously old-school: racks of fifty-cent books, and the like. The surrounding suburbs of Alphington and Kew mean higher-end brands often pop up, too.

#3 RSPCA, Greensborough

A small but charming store, full of unique stock and posters of nice animals the RSPCA have helped. There’s often a rack chockers with costumes- if you’re ever so inclined- and I once found the most divine framed Frederick McCubbin print here, so I am often back hunting for goodies. Anything for the doggos.

#4 AAPS (Australian Animal Protection Society), Moorabbin

Although a little ways out, it’s well worth the trip. A deceptively large shop, the place is packed to the rafters with interesting items to peruse, including miles of books; the last time I was there I was compelled to buy a wonderful cat clock ($4) and a bunch of $1 records, but I could have so easily spent a sizeable chunk of my pay there.

#5 Lions Club of Northcote, Thornbury

Large and old-school, this shop is wonderfully poky and stuffed to the gills with stock: it’s not as strictly organised as other shops, but such is part of the charm: well-priced clothing and lots of it, homewares and bric-a-brac galore, and keen surprises. One could easily lose an hour or two hunting for gold in such a place.

Image Sources: Grub Street, AAPS, Commercial Real Estate, Urban Drifter

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