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Shopping at charity outlets has moved to a whole new level. Long gone are the days when one would slink around surreptitiously for fear of being spotted rummaging through racks at Vinnie’s or the Salvo’s. Now these stores are quite the place to be, thriving establishments buzzing with people from all walks of life and backgrounds with a range of intentions and shopping lists, and bursting with goodies.

Apart from the terrific work these places are doing with profits used to help some of the more vulnerable in our community, as well as providing affordable shopping options, let’s not forget the sheer shopping joy to be had when uncovering hidden gems at bargain prices. Oh yeah! The glorious sense of elation I have when securing things of great beauty at bargain prices can’t be overstated. Some would say it’s rather frightening.

Here’s a couple of my recent finds (or should I say triumphs?): a marvellous pair of Brand New Gabor black pumps (above) for the princely sum of $5. Brand New, I say. For the pair, not even each shoe. The other pair of Gabor’s I have came from Paris at many multiples of that price, and they have been superb. My fussy long-toed footsies just love them. Add a shimmery evening shawl (ah yes, still with tag) or a lovely splash of red necklace and we’re nearly set for an evening out. Or mix it up with gorgeous sequined shoes instead. Wear them to a wedding if you’d like, even your own.

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Whatever you’re after – a bit of vintage glamour, killer accessories, bargains for the kids, even some additions to your work wardrobe – there are plenty of treasures ripe for the picking.

And of course if you’re off to a costume event or evening, it’s worth a quick op shop visit, a perfect justification for my latest visit. A couple of carefully selected accessories can go a long way. Even Mr T got into the spirit, scouring the racks for Gatsby-inspired items. Actually, let’s be honest – it was his idea to visit in the first place. So good were the options, he ended up having to choose between outfits. A few items from the normal wardrobe with the addition of a spiffy vest and he was made, or then there were the braces ($3) and checked pants ($10) for another look. Look out, ladies!

And I haven’t even touched on sustainability—recycling is of course the new fashion black. One more reason to justify the indulgence of shopping obsessions without feeling too bad.

Let’s be clear—success may not come every time. There’s some pretty dreadful stuff out there, but one man’s junk is another man’s treasure. And remember Rule Number One: be discerning. Whatever you take home, you should love, and no matter how fabulous something is, it must fit, especially shoes. If they’re too small, they’re too bloody small!Which means, you won’t wear them. Or if you do, in a fit of vain insanity, your throbbing feet and numb toes will hate you for it the next day. And  do not pretend you’ll get around to altering clothing. In fact, remember that you can’t even bloody sew. You’ll just end up with more stuff sitting in your cupboard that you’ll ever look at again, let alone wear. (Now that’s another story.)

Organisations like the Salvation Army and St Vincent de Paul have become very clever and innovative in recent years, really understanding and applying the principles of good retailing and marketing. No more are there horrid, huge bins of drab, unsorted items to wade through (well, maybe in some places). But usually items are organised logically, stock turned over regularly, window displays are enticing, and skilled merchandising is used to highlight fashion ideas and combinations in prime store locations. And prices are kept affordable. Sometimes tantalising.

Many charity organisations are also partnering with other fashion designer, bloggers and retailers to create great promotions and establish themselves as retailers of vintage fashion. Take Myer’s Fashion Rescue earlier this year, or the just-finished fashion partnership with Country Road. The Salvo’s seem particularly dedicated to new world marketing and selling, with fashion advice as well as online retail tips. Love it.

So here we have a shopping exercise that’s good for the environment, for raising charity funds, volunteer opportunities, and great for discovering some bargain gems. All in all, guilt-free shopping! I shop, and others benefit. Gotta be a win-win.

 

If you’re not so much into shopping but clearing out cupboards instead, fear not. You can donate your unwanted stuff and let others clog up their wardrobes instead.

Here’s where to find out more:

 

 

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