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