Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Oh my goodness, I love op shopping!! I LOVE it!

Op shops, thrift shops, second hand shops, garage sales, market stalls...I love them all.

I love the anticipating and the hunting and the sorting and the looking and the wondering and the planning and the admiring and the riffling. Love it!!

To be completely honest with you, I think that a big part of the excitement of this trip for me was the hope that there would be lots of little second hand shops in tiny towns all along the way. Lots of granny treasures to sort through. Lots of floral sheets and table clothes and china. And there have been quite a few. And we have hunted them down and driven out of our way and found some lovely things. 

And then there are some that we drive past and stumble upon by accident. You should hear the chorus of OP SHOP!!!! that comes from our car at such times.

The photos on this post were taken in a second hand shop in Albany that was so much more exciting than the Good Samaritan shop we had been directed to half a block down the street.

I adore that we have chosen op shop treasures to fill our caravan. I feel proud that we eat off odds bits of English and Australian fine china and not metal camping plates. And when accidents happen and bowls get broken, I love that it is a legitimate family outing to pop into an op shop and find replacements.

The down side of living in a caravan is the fact that space is limited. I know the more we buy, the less space we have for living. So we have learnt to be selective and that's probably a good thing anyway.

One of our road trip friends recently remarked on how patient farmer Bren must be. On how she marvels at the fact that she sees our car on the road outside junk shops all over the place. I was surprised for a second when she said that. I forget that not everyone lives like we live. That not everyone googles the op shops in every town they arrive in and includes visiting all the shops on our list as legitimate tourist outings right up there with the museums and geographical sights.

I do love that my kids love op shopping too. That they know to turn a plate upside down to check where it was made and if it is a Johnson. That they understand and embrace our recycling ideology. That they know that Mum loves florals, little jugs, pale blue and is not so interested in the little saucers or in the made in China.

I have little stashes of newspaper wrapped plates and jugs and bowls stashed all over the caravan that I look forward to unwrapping when we get home. Others buy tea-towels, snow globes, Indigenous art pieces or jewellery to remember their trips. My souvenirs are my op shopped treasures. I can't wait to put them to use and display them when we get home.

So do you op shop? Do you love the thrill of entering the world of an unknown op shop and the unknown treasure that awaits? And what section do you make a bee line for - the manchester, the clothing, the brick-a-brack, the books? And most importantly, have you found any wonderful treasures lately?

Happy treasure hunting. xx


  1. At the tip shop on Sunday, I thought I'd found a treasure, a small wooden bowl made out of Tasmanian myrtle. We love our Tasmanian timbers. So I bought it and took it home, but the thing smells terrible, like musk perfume, it's so overpowering it had to go to the shed. which is such a shame cause it looks beautiful! :(
    We were quite proud of our other finds- two gates for our garden and some sturdy stainless steel racks to use as shelves in our shed.
    That place in Albany is amazing!

  2. I head straight for the sheets to see what I can slice up and sew back together again!!
    Also, funky furniture that can be re-upholstered!!
    And what's even better than the op shop? HARD RUBBISH DAY!!!

    PS Sorry I can't do the Twitter chat thing anymore. I couldn't stand it ;)

  3. Kate I can't tell you how giddy this post made me feel...I am a die hard third generation op shopper...my kids love it too thankfully and are happy to trawl wherever it takes us :)
    Loving the look of this one in Albany..I don't think it's that many hours away from me and a place I MUST visit after seeing your gorgeous pics.
    I think finding little gems like this would be the highlight of a road trip for me too.


  4. we are EXACTLY like you. our kids also spy the oppy and shout out like kids in other familie might shout out at seeing a them park- the same excitement.
    my hubby didn't used to get it....but now too joins in!
    my idea of the best fun is to do oppy trawls.
    I LOVE that everything comes to me with a life lived before and that we will continue to enjoy things in a new way.
    I must say I am JEALOUS at not being able to spend some quality time in that albany oppy though! Oh my what a treasure trove!
    would it be wrong to want to go to albany just to visit the op-shop?!!

  5. *theme park! (one day I will edit before I publish!)

  6. Wow - I don't know how you could leave that shop - it looked amazing.

  7. Oh, those tins. That china!

    My op-shopping at the moment is non-existant. Partly because my littlest doesn't love it and partly because apparently suburban Adelaide op-shops feel that they can justify exorbitant pricing. But if I am on the road, I keep a keen eye out. Of course, I found space in the back of the car for the blankets that I had to have from the oppy down the West Coast of Tasmania.

    My kids have learnt the phrase "cheap crap made in China" *cough* Don't know where they got that from...

  8. HMMMM Albany...haven't been for many years but by the looks of that huge shop it may be worth planning a family trip soon!!

  9. I have been thinking that would be one of my favourite parts of your trip! However I would need an extra trailer for all my collections! xxx

  10. Hey Kate, wonderful post.......I love op shops and head straight to the teatowels and linen section, scouring the piles for doilies and embroidered treasures. I also love old books particularly childrens picture books.

    I scan the china for any calling my name and wanting to come home with me.

    My pet hate though is op shops that have become semi clothing boutiques with designer window displays and prices to match, arrrgh!!

    Give me an op shop where there's a certain amount of disorder and you just know you are going to unearth something wonderful.

    Claire :}

  11. I head for the baby clothes. My daughter almost only wears hand-me-downs and op shop finds. I love looking thsough the racks and coming across things I know someone spent a small fortune on only for it to last 6 months. I feel very clever when it happens! haha

  12. I head straight for glass bowls - Pyrex is always good and just about anything that hasn't been moulded. That Albany op shop looked like nirvana.

  13. This was a great post! And quite ironic, in the fact that our family decided that this is a thrift store christmas. I know people will think we are complete nut jobs. BUT this has been THE most fun I have had Christmas shopping! There is so much thought going into each item, not the usual get this weird looking gift set and get the heck out of this mad house! It is nice to see others breathing life into forgotten goodies again!

  14. You know I love op shops! I managed to find a book on Brisbane op shops before we moved here! (just wish there were some close to us)
    Will post later today about what i found yesterday! LOVE these photos Kate - that place looks fabulous!!XX

  15. It must be so hard exercising so much restraint with your limited space! I know I would struggle. When we are on holidays with our camper I too google the op shops in the area beforehand. All part of the sightseeing for us too. So nice to have a special momento and be able to say "that's the little cup I got in such-and-such". And my kids are well trained in the "made in China" items too ;)

  16. We always op shop on our travels too.

  17. What a well organised op shop!

    For me it's the fabric/manchester section that I go to first. The other day I took the littlies to a famous Sydney op shop for the first time but was really disappointed in it... until I found a nice big piece of lightweight dark denim with a little stretch, perfect for a summer skirt. It's sitting waiting to be hemmed right now ;-)

  18. WE do that! Every holiday, the first thing we google is where the op shops are. The little kids head for the toys and we take it in turns to supervise or scout.

  19. I love op shopping even if I don't buy anything because I have nowhere left to put it. I generally head straight for the tablecloths. I am always after vintage or retro ones to turn into circle skirts for me and or my friends. Then the doilies, sewing and wool supplies and after that the rest of the shop. I also love little jugs, preferably cream or white - China, Japan or England does not matter, so long as they are sweet. I'm not sure if one day would be enough to get through the shop you show. So many treasures. Be very, very happy that your family has the same values. It means you get more time there. Cherrie

  20. What a treasure! I am green of envy. Like ogre Fiona that is... Nothing beats a great thrift store find. I always get on a big HUGE high from finding bargains at second hand shops. So proud to find something old and used to re/use a gain. Feel green, of being eco friendly this time.I often line everything up when I get back home to show all the family members, tell them the price to show what a great deal it was. :D My last find was a whole big box of DMC tapestry thread. Man - I went through the roof of happiness. BLogged about it a few days ago if you want to see. They are yummy. Lovely post. Thanks for sharing. Wish we had thrifts shops like this in Swityerland...

  21. Hi Kate , that op shop looks AMAZING !!
    Ours are small with mostly just clothes and a few books / bits of bric a brac. I've never seen so much choice in one place . No wonder you love them so much :0)
    Jacquie x

  22. Heaven. Now if only I could find one like that! We have perfected the art of packing op shop finds on holidays involving planes. Ever packed a meat safe full of meat platters in your suitcase? I have. Enjoy. Alison

  23. Love this post Kate! I imagine if I was ever to do a similar trip to yours, we would be searching out the oppies too, though my hubby may not be quite so patient! Too bad!! A few years ago I bought "The Treasure Hunter's guide to Melbourne" and my mum, my then 11 year old and myself all flew to Melbourne for the week and op shopped! It was fabulous! I love that the 3 generations can shop together like that, my mum loves it too. xx

  24. What an amazing looking shop - I have a thing for vintage linen with embroidery at the moment and wool blankets are another thing I can't resist - linen cupboard is overloaded at the present. I love the idea of an op shop Xmas - might have to suggest that to my family. My last purchase was a cute summer dress I made a few changes to for my daughter. I usually tell my 4 yr old she can choose a book or small ornament otherwise we end up with more soft toys and we have way too many as it is.

  25. OMG OMG OMG...before your first image loaded I knew it would be op-shop related from the title. I expected a picture of some awesome finds - I literally gasped when it appeared on my screen! The plates! Wow! What an oppy! Your post made me laugh too - my partner is planning a trip for us to the USA. He asked me what I wanted to see and do while we are there - the answer - small town op-shops!

  26. My latest find at a fair was a pair of lovely pale green Johnson lunch plates, I also love cut glass and doilies, the embroidered kind. I think it all started when I was about 14 and found a magnificent old white painted birdcage to take home from a fair. Mum laughed at it. I was the only one who cherished it and saw the beauty in it and that was back in the seventies!

  27. I love op shopping especially in small country towns, unfortunately the Mr doesn't have my passion and whines every time I want to stop.

  28. HEAVEN!(that's me screaming) love your photos and love that i found you on instagram, your photos and stories are divine. keep them coming lovely lady. xx

  29. love Op shopping and LOVE the look of the one in your photos - eek! Id be in heaven!!!

  30. Those tins!
    Whole family love to op, and we don't mind a bit of hard rubbish either :-)

  31. I love op shopping too. and I had to laugh I could have written alot of this post ( minus the kids)WHenever Ii have dreamed of driving round the country the thought of the op shops is what excites me the most so I totally understand . when I travel i always google op shops and travel and explore by op shops, and it's a great way of learning about cities and towns through the op shop and the past of it.
    I always head straight to the bric a brac section ( for salt and pepper shakers) and then to the plates bowls and glasses, and then I admit the toys and the last of the clothes.
    hope the rest of your travels unearth even more treasures xo

  32. I love op shopping too Kate, especially when travelling sround and yesterday I found some lovely bargains in Nyngan at their local vinnies. I will have to pace myself though as there is only do much we can carry around for the next few months!

    Mel xx

  33. NEED to know where that op shop is... it looks proper old school oppy!!!

  34. Op Shops are always a highlight of our travels, especially in small towns. We always seem to be able to fit some little thing in, even when traveling by motorcycle. Mick always goes for the books and china, while for me it is the linens and china. We always get our travelling reading from an oppy and then give it back to another one when finished.

  35. when i plan holidays the first thing i check is if the area has op hops, flea markets etc. So a few years back when i went to visit family in vienna my aunt asked what i wanted to do... I gave her a list of all the op shops I had found on the internet! She was happy to oblige and I found the most amazing op shop I had EVER seen, it was HUGE probably about 5 warehouses put together and had the most amazing things!!

  36. Yes we're op shoppers here too - and I love that my little ones know their op shops from their tip shops from their antique shops! Proud mama here!

    My love of op shops began at my mum's heels as a littly myself. It probably wasn't as cool then, but I didn't mind. I always loved the thrill of what might turn up. Back then it was toys. Now, I head straight for the bed linen. And I can't walk past a little jug, or a wooden bowl, or a piece of kid-made pottery....

  37. Yes, yes, yes! I have a 6th sense for detecting op-shops. Reuben calls it my op-shop radar. I have been known to scream "STOP THE CAR!" after spotting an op-shop tucked down a little back street or around a corner. And when I find a great, new op-shop I get a serious rush! Sometimes I literally RUN inside.

    Like you we check google for op-shops where ever we go and when travelling we take big detours to visit as many op-shops as possible... I sometimes forget that not everyone does this and it's actually kind of unusual! We just love it so!

    Katie x

  38. I'm so glad you found the Secondhand Mart!! No trip to Albany is complete without a visit. . . or at least that was once the case in the days before Elliot was on the move. Him rampaging the rabbit warren of aisles is bloody hard work.

    Hope you have left all the broken van and broken bone worries behind you and are happily homeward bound with a head full of ideas and a heart full of enthusiasm.


  39. YES! love it! I really need to do a post on all the treasure that has made it's way to us since we've moved to our little town :) happy op-shopping!

  40. Oh man! I just saw a tin I want. And im sworn off them too.

    I only love opshops where the ladies are nice, x

  41. Can relate to every word in this post. Wishing I could do all my Christmas shopping in the oppie! That store looks like some sort of holiday retreat. How on earth did you get out of there while it was still light? My best finds have been the tuppertoys last week and the massive sheet haul in rural Victoria. We researched the oppies first- they were the ones that had a brochure- and while I ferret, Legoman goes geocaching. I usually go straight to the sheets and fabric, then the sewing stuff, then to kids books, toys and last of all a quick scratch around near the pyrex section. Can't wait to see your finds when you get home. melx

  42. I love, love, love flea markets and antique stores, could easily spend all day going around them.
    The store you were in looks like a treasure place!!!

  43. OMG, Op Shop Heaven! Its almost worth taking the 3,500 klm car journey to visit there. That must have been a huge highlight of your trip.

  44. A recent treasure purchase was a food mill for $2.99. I had wanted one for years. Made the best pear butter with this mill, so easy and so quick. And yes, it was worth the wait.

  45. I know that exact shop you are in. That is where I managed to get a whole heap of Fowlers Vacola bottles. I could spend hours in there.

  46. OMG I just jizzed all over my keyboard. That op shop looks amazing!! Glad to hear Pepper's elbow is much better. Love to you all. xx

  47. Oh yeah, I'm hearing ya!! We've travelled from Tassie to Lismore and back several times via differing routes and op shops are always a definite stop!!
    Like your lot, we all take note of the oppie's as we pass through town....and like you, I get a serious thrill when walking in for the first time!! I can feel it now just thinking about it........ books or manchester, which looks more promising?!?!?

  48. I did the same in New Zealand and brought back two lovely treasures to match some china I had in my cupboard, I think it is the excitement of seeing so much in one shop don't you? The Granny's of years ago would be proud of us!

  49. Im totally frothing at the mouth of those photos of the oppy ! What a cracker !

  50. What a fantastic op shop. Love all the Tupperware!
    I am just starting to check out the local op shops for all the gear that we need for for our camper for our trip in 2013. We do eat off enamel plates as I love them, chips an all, besides which they will be better when we go off road.

  51. Ohweeeee! I've been hearing for years how wonderful the oppies in Albany are - now I can see it's true!

    2yrs ago I drove my girls to Vic from Perth for 2wks - I contemplated hooking the trailor up for the trip - just in case. I didn't.

    I managed to squeeze treasure into every spare nook & cranny in the car and posted a few Express Bags home along the way.

  52. Great looking oppy! I wondered if you bought anything?? plus I am jealous of you wearing anything with long sleeves in December....

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