Op Shops – A World of Opportunity

Your local op shop offers far more than a way for you to find a bargain or that one of a kind treasure. These play an integral part in diverting unwanted clothing, furniture, and bric a brac from landfills while at the same time raising money, allowing them to continue to support those worthy projects.

The NZ Salvation Army estimates approximately 16,000 tonnes of waste are saved from landfill per year through their family stores alone.

Here are a couple great op shops in our region you might want to check out.

Lions Shed Cambridge – a real spectacle

What started in the 60s as an annual auction in the town square grew into a shed. The Lions Shed at Cambridge is an op shop like no other! It holds treasures from eras gone by and unexpected finds that will have your home, closet, garden or shed happy that you visited. All proceeds from donations fund worthy projects—one such example is the upgrade of the Cambridge pool: Cambridge Lions Club contributed $100k, much of it raised through The Lions Shed.

The Lions Shed even accepts your old prescription spectacles which presently are tested by an optometrist before going to the Pacific Islands.

They also take some electrical items, which are tested and tagged by certified volunteers before selling.

­­­­Hospice Waikato

With their network of Hospice Shops throughout the region, Hospice Waikato provide a number of options for those wanting to reuse.

At Hospice Claudelands they have a couple of very cool initiatives.

Looking for a specific book? The team do ‘a book request’ and will pop your request on their board and keep a look out for it.


The Stella Rack

Stella Neems, who has been a Hospice volunteer for two years, created the Stella Rack. With her eye for what’s cool, Stella chooses from the best donations for the Stella Rack, encouraging young people to buy second-hand clothing. “At first I didn’t think much about the sustainability part of it,” says Stella, “but now that is one of the main reasons I invest my time into Hospice. I think it’s so important to shop second-hand because, at the end of the day, the fashion industry is the second biggest polluter in the world.”

Want to see just how cool things from the op shop can be? Follow hospiceshopwaikato on Instagram.


For Frock Sake

At the back of the Ngaruawahia Community House is a small pop up container shop ‘For Frock Sake’.

For Frock Sake was born a few years ago when the Community House kept receiving donations of used clothing. Their first project was to support those needing to dress for interviews or needed appropriate clothes for new jobs.

Now, For Frock Sake’s main business is women’s clothing and shoes, in collaboration with the Community House. They also offer ceramic ware for events which can be rented out for a fraction of the cost of buying new or using single use items. So next time you have a party consider renting out your crockery, think reuse and supporting a good cause.

Once a year, For Frock Sake puts a call out for the best frock and suit donations suitable for high school graduations. Students from the local high school come and choose a dress or suit, so no need to buy new when the perfect dress has been sitting in someone else’s closet.


Before you donate

All too often, charitable stores find themselves sorting through items which are well beyond their use by date. If items are not saleable then stores have to pay to dump them, taking money away from their worthy causes.

  • Check with the store first—not all stores accept all donations.
  • Quality is key, if you can’t wear it, sleep on it, eat off it, then neither can someone else.
  • If it’s been in storage, give it a wash: op shops can’t sell items if they are soiled, stained, broken or smell.
  • No matter how good your donation is, don’t drop it off if the shop is closed. If it’s really good, it will be gone by morning and your donation has not supported the cause.

Sometimes items that are not donatable to your local op shop, like that chipped plate or bent fork, may still have another purpose. Try advertising things you can’t donate on a local Facebook or Neighbourly page. Even items not accepted at your local charity store might be an artist’s treasure.

Take the challenge and buy only second-hand items for a year; it’s a great way to appreciate the amazing work charitable stores really do.

Buy quality – If you must buy new, buy quality goods. It should last longer and if it finds its way to a charity store it will still have value.

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