Op shops closed for lockdown, so they went online and found a global market

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Charities report their virtuous circle of recycling and reuse is attracting a new generation of op shoppers who are aware of the impact discarded fast fashion has on the environment, yet want to create affordable and individual looks.

Nicky Gots, 19, loves trawling through Wayside’s donations.

“The stuff that comes through here is absolutely incredibly exciting,” said the fashion student. She is employed at Wayside’s op shop as part of its Wingspan program to help disadvantaged youth gain job ready skills including retail and online marketing.

Ms Gots was excited to find some size six Prada shoes. Selling online for $300, they generated income for Wayside’s services for the homeless.

For a photo shoot with the Herald, Oya Kanu – also in the Wingspan program – was pretty in pink with a Michael Kors Bag, selling online for $30, Italian shoes ($25), and a Lucid jumpsuit ($20). Rita (last name withheld) paired a tutu with punk boots, an outfit she’d bought at an op shop.

Oya Kanu with Rita, members of the Wayside Op Shop employment program at the Wayside Chapel Op Shop, Potts Point. Pink Michael Kors Bag, $30. Italian Vero Cuoio shoes $25 - Lucid design pink jumpsuit $20.

Oya Kanu with Rita, members of the Wayside Op Shop employment program at the Wayside Chapel Op Shop, Potts Point. Pink Michael Kors Bag, $30. Italian Vero Cuoio shoes $25 – Lucid design pink jumpsuit $20. Credit:Louise Kennerley

Without its mega book sales to support its suicide prevention hotline, Lifeline this month launched an online book store from its Lindfield pop up shop. To find a book, shoppers have to look at online photos of the bookshelves, and hope the book hasn’t been bought by someone else by the time they order.

It’s harder work for about half the revenue, Michael Cleary, the manager of volunteers at the bookshop, said. But the decision to sell a smaller range of books, including fiction for children and adults, also provided a community service to families stuck at home.

Mr Ferrier said most Salvos purchases are sent with a handwritten note of thanks, a personal touch that generates the bulk of its positive feedback.

One lifelong op shopper wrote from hospital thanking Salvos for their website.

After treatment for cancer, she had lost weight. “None of my clothing fitted which make you feel worse,” she wrote. “But I have been able to buy myself a whole new wardrobe with quality products at very reasonable prices.

“So now I feel a new woman and look forward to all my parcels and all my ordering has been done whilst in hospital, and it also connected me to outside world.”

Vinnies Vic online team at work. Kylie Byrne & Chris Pattas with racks of merchandise

Vinnies Vic online team at work. Kylie Byrne & Chris Pattas with racks of merchandiseCredit:Kellie Webster

When Mr Ferrier contacted the family to follow up, the woman’s daughter said her mother had died.

“We sadly lost my beautiful mother to cancer this week,” she wrote.

“But I would like to thank you for helping her get through some tricky times, she would look through your site through the night when she couldn’t sleep, and it helped divert her worries about a while.”

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