Are op-shops getting too expensive?

Who here op-shops, charity shops or thrifts(for my overseas readers) on a regular basis? I would probably end up in an op-shop once a week. Anywhere from Savers which is a virtual department store through to a local charity shop- if I’m walking past and have the time I stop for a gander. You never know what you might find and it’s often how I’ve ended up with some of my most prized second hand possessions.

I was however nothing short of staggered the other day when I went to the Hampton Salvo’s store to find so many clothes at retail prices. One rack titled ‘Designer Women’s Clothes’ had fast fashion labels like Valley Girl, CMK, Sussan and Sportsgirl, all at prices you would expect to pay for new items. Anything remotely ‘vintage’ looking had a higher price tag on it, one fur coat was going for $350.

I crossed the road to the competing Vinnies store that seemed a little more in line with what you would typically expect to find in op-shops. After a little digging I found:

2 pairs for sunnies for $1 each(they looked new, as in excess stock perhaps but without tags)

1 Wayne Cooper silk/linen blend off white suit for $8

1 watermelon belt for $3

1 grey blouse for $6

It could be said that I am being uncharitable by griping at the prices op-shops deem suitable for their stock. But how on earth are people who actually need the charity support supposed to afford it? Why do prices vary depending on the area you live? I’ve been to the Salvo’s in Fawkner and never seen the same prices that I saw at Hampton. Are they simply catering to people like me who they believe can just afford it anyway?

I walked away with more questions than answers, but I do intend try and uncover just why there is so much variation depending on where you shop.

  • Peter

    After working at Anglican church Op shop Newborough for over two years, i am quite disgusted with the new direction the shop has taken. Everything in the shop now has to be designer brand items with a hefty price tag. You used to be able to go there and get items for cheap or reasonable prices but not anymore. People donate their items in good faith but you would not believe what gets chucked in the garbage bin or taken to the tip. It is heartbreaking to see all this stuff just thrown away because it’s not designer or antique items.

  • nexuspoint

    Exactly! Well said. So many people donate crap, all the sorters can do is their best. I mean how many times are charities bombarded with copies of a Dan Brown novel or those shades of grey books? Or old text books they can’t sell.

    Secondly, if they sell something for $2-5 that they know someone running a secondhand ‘vintage’ shop will then resell for $50 of course they’re going to then sell it for more so they can bring in more money for their programs! You’d be a fool not to try and cut a middle person out whose making a profit for themselves by reselling their stuff.

  • Paul Bradley

    op shops have vinyl like the 1930’s -1960’s. i’d never buy clothing. all the dvds are $2 dvds or missing or scratched or copies. 4 op shops in portland victoria haven’t chnaged stock in 15 years.

  • Simon

    Just to add a different perspective: Another Chance Op Shop in Scullin ACT has been operating for the last 20 years and is currently having a huge summer sale: 50% off all clothing until the end of February 2015. I’m pretty sure clothing sold at 50% off already low prices is pretty cheap. I have volunteered here for the last ten years (so I am not paid to say this) and I constantly hear customers say we are the cheapest in the local region.

    Address: Ross Smith Crescent, Scullin ACT 2614.
    Open 10am-4.30pm Monday to Friday, and 10am-1pm on Saturday.

  • Dave

    The Op Shops today are basically full of overpriced junk!

  • julian

    Completely agree. What has gone wrong with op shops. Way too expensive. The people doing the pricing at salvos are either delusional or not of this world.

  • I put a cheap $20 glass bottle thingy I bought years ago at an el cheapo shop, into my local Vinnies last week only to find they’ve put it in the “glass cabinet” with the special things for $65!! Where on earth do they get their prices from? I’m not game to look at the prices on teh other items I gave them!!

  • jenna

    I know someone who did a community based order at Salvos Hampton. The manager didn’t chase up their missing timesheet, or even provide a letter verifying their 8 weekends of work completed. This person consequently got fined $500 for ‘not doing their order’. Apparently this bungling of timesheets happens a lot. So beware if you have to do community service with this organisation. Refuse to do any hours of free labour for them until they sign a timesheet in front of you!

  • Samantha Oneil

    I think that some places need to pike up there act . The first op shop in that i was at for this place opened 2009 Tunstall square was great if they didn’t close the other shop Jackson court and move the laides over to the new shop. all because of that a lot of new volunteers left the first new shop . Then they open a new sop at bulleen which is bigger it started out great affair few new volunteers but the problem was the staff from one of the other shops helping out one woman was not a good listener and the other person would not help resolve our conflict after nearly 1 1/2 years had passed and the woman
    had complained about me when she had started it . that place dose not have any communication skiils and they don’t know how how to deal with conflicts properly
    i was the 2nd person they got rid of this way and if they had off put her or me on a
    different day i would of loved that and it would off worked out fine they are on a downward spirral

  • JJ

    It is little wonder many Lifeline, Salvos and Vinnies stores are empty these days. It seems somewhat strange that second hand items are on par with new price wise. Some complain they cannot make a profit. What The!!!! Charge half the price and you’ll make a profit by selling 10 times more stuff. Half the stuff will come back to them again a second time around again, providing even more funds. Who cares if people raid them to sell online, at least the stuff is providing income to those who obviously need to supplement their income, and providing clothing at affordable prices to those who need it. They are alienating their customers. Those in need cannot afford the items, and those that can just walk out never to return, and are so disgusted by the blatant ripoff they refuse to donate their items, and turn to e-bay instead.

  • Merlot187

    I was for many years a carer, and being on a pension myself I had no choice but to seek clothing, shoes and household goods from op-shops. There was a period where op-shops were true opportunity shops and the items they sold were priced accordingly low to suit their intended customers. Sadly, much of what is sold in op-shops is damaged, yet it still carries a price tag higher than retail. The people who put the price tags on the sale items must have delusions of grandeur, for I feel the lure of big money from traders and dealers has coloured the mission of all op-shops, resulting in unrealistic secondhand prices. Even clapped out furniture is over priced, and when the cost of delivery is added, the price is even more outrageous. When one considers that op-shops are joined to a registered charity, their overpricing of goods is even more galling. The charities get generous tax concessions as do their employees. They receive cost free volunteers and donated goods. Prices can and should be lower, and goods which are rubbish should be consigned to the rubbish skip.

  • Mattieboy

    I’m a regular op shopper 2-3 a week. I agree with everyones comments
    Salvo’s when getting items with tags and prices on them will charge you between 25%-30% of the rrp.
    They also have a colored coded day where those particular tags are 50% off. Mondays are $2 days for women. (Very sexist). It varies from shop to shop some have a all week sale.
    Vinnies is definitely a rip off . Ive seen things that are the same in shops yet more for it. The brotherhood of st laurence are not to bad and the red cross is on par with them. The independant op shops are a real bargain.


    1- St Vinnies
    2- The Salvo’s
    3- Brotherhood of St Laurance
    4- The Red Cross
    5- Churches
    6- independant charity shops

  • Frank

    If you want a free laugh, (i think its still free) go to the Salvos in Mornington. I love old 70’s and 80’s audio equipment. I’ve seen crappy plastic turn tables for $55. Old credenzas for $200. Blown speakers for $150. I once saw a donated electric guitar with missing strings for $700. Stick to off broadway OP shops, if you want a bargin.

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  • amanda

    I wonder if the cheaper shops like Big w and target etc. are starting to monopolize the retail market. We can get clothes so cheaply from these stores, why would we buy things second hand?
    Why can they make things so cheap?
    When all other companies cant keep up are they going to put there prices up? I think second hand shops are struggling to keep open. When they get good brand names they have to put the price higher to survive. And yes younger people are good at knowing what things are selling for more.

    I think we have to remember that op shops serve more then one purpose for they community. They are a place where recycling becomes available. Our landfills are getting so full, that our government is spending money educating children about rubbish and needless buying. (This is a real issue) The clothes that they don’t keep generally go to a third world charity where clothes go to the needy. And the things that can not be used for that go to rag companies. They are an asset to our country I hope they find a place where they can still fit into our society and help keep prices reasonable. I hope they are not weeded out by bigger companies getting cheap labor.

  • chris

    hey i live in country and their is a large unemployment rate hear i have just found myself in this possision im moving to melb soon for work but went to vinnies yesterday afternoon and was seeing things for over $500 on certain things their was a purse my partner was interested in for $40 it wasn’t a designer everything nearly was over priced and hear we have no real other options but from a salvo’s store i see its criminal to do this these are donated goods put it this way i will never donate a thing to them again it will sooner see the bin now i will not support this im heading to salvo’s soon to see their prices hope they at least keep the spirit of helping those in need

  • Emma

    Lady Melbourne, I went op shopping in Hampton yesterday, and never will again. The Salvos were terribly expensive, with most books marked $4-5… Just for crappy old paperbacks!! Just because you receive donations from people who live in brighton doesn’t mean you should charge church street prices… And brightoners, while they may have money, aren’t stupid, and do not enjoy being ripped off, just like the rest of us. Vinnies was better, but still… I’m heading for reservoir op shops next time!

  • Marty

    What a scam! These Op Shops don’t pay tax nor have to have a second hand dealer’s Licence.
    There’s no justification for charging higher prices than, say Cash Converters.
    I used to buy CDs & LPs at Op Shops, but not any more!
    Op Shops charge more than Cash Converters for crappy music CDs & they are usually scratched too(making them unplayable). And as for pants belts don’t bother!
    Try Victoria Market for belts, even better Camberwell Market on Sunday, better than Op Shops!

  • Jane

    Many charity shops are there to raise money for the charity and not always to provide affordable clothes to customers – it’s difficult to make profit this way and therefore keep the lights on as well as provide expensive services for those that need it.

    Just because cheaper prices would suit us better, doesn’t mean they are obliged to make prices cheaper. They have a right to run their businesses however they choose because they are the ones who understand what need in the community they are trying to meet and how best to balance it up.

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  • Chrissy

    I volunteered at my local Vinnies Op Shop and was ordered to put the higher prices on clothing and as you folks said if it’s a designer label the price is higher. I complained about the prices and was told it was because we needed to respect the donation. Someone thought enough of their donation to give it to us and would be embarassed if we just gave it away. I left because i thought we should respect the customer more than the donation. These stores are supposed to be an opportunity for the community to benefit and the funds are for the charities benefit. Only the managers are paid staff but It’s shameful when you find out how many ppl need to steal from the donation bins because they can’t afford to Op Shop!

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  • sam

    i used to shop at the op shops almost weekly but not anymore…all the good stuff is ‘taken’ by the staff long before the public gets a chance to purchase it….if only people knew what really goes on they wouldnt donate anymore……..its a digrace!!!

  • Poor Student

    I use to love finding things in my local lifeline store, and picked something up nearly every week, but now they sort the nicer things out, and much of it goes to the “vintage” rack where they are all $38!! And tops on the regular racks average about $9, which usually look pretty worn. I’d probably pay $20 for some of the things on the vintage rack because they are nice, and the money would be going to a better cause than a cheap chain store….but $38, heart sink 🙁

  • Some Like It Hot

    I was upset when I first moved to Melbourne and couldn’t afford things in the op shop. But I now understand op shops are for shoppers – its the money raised that goes to helping the needy.

    Nowdays, I run a consignment store under Flinders St Station which some might say is expensive – we charge around half of new – but our consigners take 50% when their items sell. It’s a good deal all round, we reckon!

  • Yes, it’s a real dilemma at the moment. I really feel contributing to op shops, in order for them to stay running and to then look after those in need, is my duty! But I, like you, sometimes look at prices and think “wtf?”. I wonder if it is a ‘class/suburb/area’ thing, as I’ve noticed the differences in pricing from one store to the next. Having said that, at the op shop I vollie at, prices are just come up with randomly – and it depends on who is doing the pricing at the time. I might come along and see a vintage Valentino piece and mark it up a little but then an older lady might see it and deem it too old fashioned, so puts it down to to $1 rack haha. It just depends I suppose. I still enjoy the thrill of picking up a bargain, when all is said and done! Kel 🙂

  • JD

    Have been an avid opshopper in the past, very rare now. Volunteers at my local Vinnies seem to think that because something may sell on ebay for $400 (forget that they have a worldwide audience to drive up prices), well one person will walk through the doors of their shop willing to pay the same! Example: a daggy, black cocktail dress with diamond shaped patches of beadwork for $90 – with a whole section of beading missing from the front panel! That they ‘hadn’t noticed’! Or disgustingly old fashioned (not vintage) clothes that you’d only wear to a bad taste party and may be willing to pay $5 or $10 for, being on the rack for $60 because it’s ‘evening wear’. Or a designer label, where the most fashionable aspect of the particular garment is actually the label! Everything designer isn’t actually sought after – not if it’s too old to be fashionable, not old enough to be vintage. The best one though was when a customer went to check the price of a couple of still in packet pillow slips which had a price tag of $20 on them, which obviously she thought was the original price, not the Vinnies price. The volunteer glared at her as she said ‘Well you’d pay more than that for them in David Jones!’ Er maybe, maybe not, but you would get a guarantee, the ability to return it and GOOD CUSTOMER SERVICE. Op shops now have lost the plot!

  • I’m a big opshop fan. Love them! Love the thrill of the chase, the opportunity to find something special that no one else will have and let’s be frank, I love a bargain! I do like the environmentally friendly aspect of it too.

    I live in an area with two excellent markets, an outlet centre, three charity shops and four vintage boutiques. Two are actually “vintage”, ie, sell clothes from the 60s backwards and the other two are really second hand shops.

    I also work in the city, close to the main CBD shopping area, where it is almost impossible to pay retail at the moment, so full of sale stock are the shops!

    It is very hard for me to pay retail, being surrounded by all this goodness!

    My young son took an old McDonald’s Happy Meal toy to the counter of one local store to be told it was $8 – because it was a “collectable”. Despite the fact that it wasn’t in a wrapper and could have been bought from McDonald’s for $2. We went across the road to the other store – 50c for the exact same item. When I questioned the first shop, I was abused and told I could volunteer my time. And work with people like you? I think not! I prefer to donate items and buy from your shops.

    I think it also depends on who was on pricing duty. I’ve seen Alannah Hill items for $20 and Forever New for $25 on the same rack for similar looking items.

    I had a chat with a couple of the charity store managers – I was told that they prefer to sell quality products at decent prices to make money on volume of sales. Except for the Salvos who appear to have gone mad with the pricing guns and forgotten where to put the decimal points!

    I’ve also been told that many charity shops sell products to raise money for their projects to support people in need, rather than sell products directly to people in need.

  • I know exactly which op shop you are talking about in Hampton and I’ve brought up the fact that the “Designer” rack isn’t actually designer at all. They had Target on it once. It is ridiculous.

  • Reals

    Megan’s right! (Megan 12 May 2011) Sod off to Myers if you can afford it

  • Rob

    Hi Guys,
    This is very interesting reading. I have recently been employed by a non for profit disability organisation to manage their 4 Op Shops. All of our profits generated from the stores go back into funding disability programs that we run.
    We have 3 paid staff including myself and we have over 100 volunteers donating their time to the cause.

    The keys things i have noticed so far with our Op shops are:

  • abrfnldos;

    This is a trend that’s been going on for a long time and shows no sign of getting better. The salvos started it. They hire store managers who are usually ambitious and measure their level of success by the amount of money they can wring out of the punters.

    E.g. 1. Cherrylane T shirt $17. I asked ‘why is this so expensive’. Salvos checkout chick answer; ‘because we can’.

    E.g. 2. A very elderly and bent over man at Camberwell salvos was complaining about the prices. Check out guy response ‘actually its’ quite cheap, a lot cheaper than in a normal shop’ I didn’t even address this idiotic argument in which somewhere in this guys’ mind was the notion that op shoppers really SHOULD pay retail, as new prices for second hand donated goods, but instead said ‘actually I agree. It’s way too expensive and unaffordable for people on low incomes’. Check out guy response; ‘well it’s more expensive over at balwyn!’ so wow. One op shop in Melbourne is dearer than Camberwell salvos. Thank god for that. While I feel sorry for the impoverished of Balwyn, the point in question is that Camberwell’s too dear; not that there’s some other place that’s even more exorbitant.

    Another time I mentioned the highness of the prices I was told by a salvos staff member that those really in need of cheap clothes should apply to the salvos welfare centre [or whatever they call it] citing hardship etc, and get given a voucher. Well that’s bullshit. It’s humiliating and a big hassle and not fair; reasonably priced clothes and other op shop stuff SHOULD be available for those on low incomes without the necessity to jump through stressful hoops.

    Imo concession card holders should be charged at most 50% of the prices they are using now. And don’t forget that those struggling under the permanent weight of poverty need, just as much as anyone else, some aesthetic rather than only just ascetic, enjoyment in life!

    As for this Vintage thing, what happened to ‘antique’? Antiques are worth money. Vintage is an invented category for stuff not good enough to be antique but that someone hopes they can fool the punter into thinking it must be cool because it’s expensive. I NEVER buy stuff labelled ‘vintage’. Apropos of the ‘thrill of the chase’ abovementioned, yeah well it’s not so much the thrill of the chase as the rock bottom necessity of the chase, thanks to the profit-mongers.

  • Salvos, St Vincent de Paul, LifeLine, they are all overpriced.

    Quite a few times i have bought something with holes in it (didn’t see till got home) and been charged $5, and as far as saying low income earners dont shop there. It is because they are getting too expensive.

    There are charities out there who sell clothes cheaper and they are busier.

    The above charities are forgetting they are charity stores and some new stores are selling new clothes very cheap, they need to be competitive and stop thinking they are BOUTIQUE !!!!!!!!!

  • margo ashton

    All you Opp shop wanderers come down to Blairgowie on the Mornington Peninsula, we have the best coffee and cake shops and the Wonderful Search and Rescue Opp shop in Wilson Steet.
    Designer labels top Portsea and Sorrento drop offs nothing much over $5.. Call in and we make everyone feel welcome…..ALL our funds go to the Southern Peninsula Search and Rescue Organisation…..

  • Joe King

    i agree with most of you as i have been shopping at opp shops for 25+ years and just don’t bother to go to any of the designer opp shops (like the salvos or vinnies) anymore I cant stand most of the volunteers that work in them or run them, they are unbelievably greedy money hungry misers that should not get near a charity organization, let alone sell things to the needy, a few years ago a friends house burned down and they lost everything that they owned, they were not insured and had only the clothes on there back’s, the next day the red cross took them to kmart and took them shopping for cloths for them and there baby, linen, towels, jocks and socks etc the bill was over $1000.
    The big charity’s got in the local paper and offered to help (what a joke) they were told to go to a local charity and get a few things that they would need, this place had new mattresses and gave them old stained ones that they could not sell i suppose, they went in to pick up a kitchen table at another and the lady (Miss Scrooge) running the store told me they would have to pay for it as they did not have a voucher and they the charity arm of the charity had run out of money, i informed her that the items were given to them to help the needy and that they were told to come and pick out this item from this store needles to say that she wouldn’t budge and just called me a rude man, by then i was quite angry because i had donated a lot of items to them in the past thinking they would be going to the needy, i told her that the reason she wouldn’t give the item to them was because she could sell it, she reluctantly agreed with my comment, i will never give to them again (salvos) as they would not even know what charity was until it was them in need of it, the red cross on the other hand really surprised me with what they did without them having to ask or beg they just helped, as you can tell i am still angry with the way they were treated and hope that any charity reading this train’s there staff to be charitable and not entrepreneurial.
    I also believe a lot of volunteers take first pick of all the items that are donated and only the rubbish that they don’t want makes it out into the store. i have seen people that work in the sorting rooms selling items that were donated, at the local market, i am sure they payed for the items but they never reached the public.

    I like the other opp shoppers above have my hidden opp shops that i visit and still find gems that use to light up my children’s eyes and now my grand children love seeing what grandpa found for them

    PS check your local tip as most of them now have a recycle store that has great stuff in it just to give you an idea a couple of weeks ago i got a 4 ft fish-tank with a stand, pine lid with a built in light complete setup sells for around $700+, I paid $20 for it, I am not telling you all where i live ether LOL couldn’t see an opp shop selling it it for that much could you

  • Chris

    Since I adopted a disposable drop-and-shop philosophy to menswear, I have visited virtually all of metropolitan Sydney’s major opp-shops. I really wished opp-shops priced their garments accordingly to encourage quick turnover. Shop staff who price the clothing should be made aware of the new price of comparable items from K-Mart, Big-W and Supre for a baseline index of how to charge.
    From a menswear point of view, any shirt/top over $5 is a bit rich, and $20 should be the limit for any cheaply made suit.
    But the opp-shops are deaf and blind to our feedback. Opp-shop theft and tag-switching, while not condoned, is seemingly justified when the industry is unwilling to heed customer sentiment. In my experience:
    – the amount of designer label stock generally corresponds with the socio-economic status of the suburb but:
    – The use of centralised sorting and distribution facilities by the major charities means “New Dumped Stock” channels through to most stores so you may find the same few designer gems in Penrith/Werribee as you would at Mosman/Toorak
    – The more dumpy-looking the store, the better the chances for unearthing a designer treasure.
    – Ditto the more out of the way the store is from the main shopping district/main roads.
    – Shops are volunteered by a range of “personalities”, ranging from the tyrant Head Volunteer who is unyielding on everything, to the absent-minded person who seems to be employed there under some disability scheme to the lacksadaisical volunteer who will sell that Armani shirt to you for $4 because they like your smile.

  • emlove2shopop

    COULDNT AGREE MORE! I op shop at least once a week and laugh when i see prices like $20 on valley girl and sportsgirl when they have been worn… its angers me
    the designer section also is hilarious!

  • MAP

    I agree with all the comments. I go op shopping all the time. On the flip side I donate clothes to op-shops about twice a year when I have a clean out. I have had a growing child and whenever she grew out of stuff I would send it off to the op-shop as I didn’t know anyone with a little girl. I also give clothes myself as my weight has fluctuated over the years. I have had the experience of being rejected on giving certain clothes and items not based on quality but what the item is. The lady at the op shop however was willing to pick and choose what I could give her. Including taking some children’s toys which I was told they don’t sell in this particular op shop but she was going to give to her grandchildren!!!! What the?
    Since when did op shops become picky and choosy not about the quality but about what ‘will sell’. What happened to being a charity? Not very charitable at all.

  • opshop guy

    Its quite interesting reading everyones comments about high prices in op shops. I have found vinnies & salvos furniture prices being close to big retail companys prices, quite rediculous considering those items are donated. The best chain of op shops I have come across is the epilepsy op shops. They have op shops in cranbourne, blackburn, east kew & parkdale. The pricing across the board is very fair and reasonable and there seems to be such a large variety of goods. If you are in the area why not stop in and check it out for yourself.

  • bella

    There are a lot of comments here about low-income earners. As a household on a very tight budget for the last two years I have to say, we can’t even afford Lowes!.. sad but unfortunately true. We used to get clothes from the op shops, but now (as has been suggested several times above) are priced out of most of them. Some posters have also mentioned that charities give good clothes to the needy; well that’s all well and good, but what if you have the same pride as anyone else and don’t want the humiliation of being identified as ‘needy’? I (and most self-respecting people) would never ask to be classed as charity, and I still like to be well-dressed enough not to signal to the world that we’re in bad times, even if we are..! :)And I still enjoy the thrill of finding beautiful clothes that I can afford despite the budget.
    Regarding fundraising, I do agree that vintage clothes should be used to fetch a good price for the charity, but a big problem seems to be salespeople who are really clueless about both designs and prices – things with stains don’t sell even if they are designer brands. I’ve also seen damaged bric-a-brac and furniture with higher than retail prices, which is crazy.

  • opshop girl

    I recently visited a local ‘salvos’ store and found a plain pink t-shirt in the ‘nightwear’ section. I proceeded to the counter and when I was about to pay for it the assistant, said “where did you get this from?”, the ‘nightwear section’, I replied. ‘Have you seen the price on this?’, she asked it had a new price ticket of $65 on it. “this is supposed to be in the designer section and its $15, she said’, Im sorry I said I cannot afford to pay that. So she very rudely left me standing at the counter whle she proceeded to hang the t-shirt back on the “designer label’, rack. Ist of all there was no $15 price ticket on the t-shirt, and there is no way I would pay that for a t-shirt from an opshop new or not, the label said “designer’, I was not even familiar with it & was going to use it as a sleeping top. For that money I can go to my local target store and purchase brand new t-shirts (in their sales section) for $8! I agree with ‘leFanciulle’ that yes they are certainly turning people away. Also liked what ‘sam@bento’ wrote, yes its for them to convert the donations into cash which by the way are ‘given’ to them. I dont think I will be shopping at this salvos again!!!!!! hate rude people.

  • I have this same view on opshops. I am an old time opshopper and my mum was too and since vintage has been trending, charity stores (I find vinnies in particular) have raised their prices.

    One day as I witness two little school girls leaving with all but sad faces I decided to write to Vinnies about the situation.
    I never heard back. I know coats are expensive and usually are in opshops but $150+? Really?
    The worst (not most expensive but worst) I have ever seen was an old 90s style maxi dress from esprit priced at $35. It seems bad but not terrible, right? But I didn’t mention that there was a large stain down the front.
    Great, a huge, old maxi dress that has been soiled.
    I sent a photo of this dress and the price tag and sent it in to the main office in hope that they may contact my local vinnies (since I think it is partly the fault of the managers who run each store as well)

    I no longer shop there.

  • Pardon Me

    I used to love op shopping. Not anymore. Where have all the bargains gone? I am now finding that the Designer Recycle stores are much better, cleaner and cheaper!!! Vinnies in Glenferrie Malvern, must be THE most expensive op shop in the galaxy. I saw a pretty ruffled blouse there for $20. It was meant to be white, but was stained and dirty. Much better to shop at the nearby Designer Recycle stores such as “Champagne Taste” and “Second Obsession” both in Wattletree Road.

  • I think ‘Ethical shopper’ has summed it up with valid points. I go to a little church op-shop on Burnley Rd Richmond. They don’t have the outrageous overheads stores have therefore you can pick up a real bargain from clothes to kitchenware to plastic flowers. I don’t mind paying a little bit more for charity op-shops and entrepreneurs who are doing business as retailers because reality is they have to bump up their prices make it viable to continue in business.

  • F.

    Re post by Ethical shopper – great tips!

  • Ethical Shopper

    Please guys spare a thought for the charities. These are not large multi-national organisations trying to rip off the consumer. They are organisations that are trying to raise as much money as possible to provide essential services both in Australia and overseas.

    Making a profit out of an op-shop is getting increasingly difficult. Why – you ask when there is such a huge interest in all things recycled?

    A charity I worked for received 22 tonnes of textile donations every day ( this is equivalent to 9 removalist trucks) of which only 10% was re-saleable. There was a number of factors contributing to this dissapointing statistic, they include.

    • A reduction in council curbside waste disposal services and an increase in municipal dump fees has resulted in people using charities for waste disposal.
    • Charity bins are now full of cheap, fashion forward, poor quality clothing. These products are hard to sell, and their is a cost associated with sorting and disposing of these products.
    • Donation bins and charity donation points are constantly raided by theives, who take the best quality donations and leave the junk for the charities. This is why many charities have removed the bins and are now collecting donations at people’s homes and workplaces.
    • It is becoming easier for people to sell their own stuff instead of donating to charities. How many of you have recently had a garage sale or sold pre-loved goods on e-bay?

    There is now also considerable commercial competition in the recycling sector. American companies like Savers have entered the marketplace and their are many businesses importing donated goods from countries where labour costs are lower.
    This means it is getting increasingly difficult for charities to survive. This coupled with rising rent, transport, waste disposal and labour costs means that charities have had to put up their prices to survive.

    One of the other contributers brought up the issue of charity stores becoming too expensive for low-income people. This is an issue that charities are constantly grappling with. The charity I worked for did research into their customer base and found that the vast majority of clothing shoppers were not low-income. Why? because their are so many cheap clothing options on the market (this may however change with rising international cotton prices). The majority of customers were middle class, medium to high income earners who shopped at op-shops for ethical reasons or because they loved the thrill of the chase.

    For low- income people the major expenses are accomodation, food, utilities and transport. So is it better for the charity to keep prices low and cater for the small proportion of low-income customers or charge prices that allow them to raise money for the provision of services. It is a tough question. But for the record, most charities use a proportion of their donations for material aid. This means they give the stuff away to people who need it.

    A number of charities are considering closing down their stores because it is becoming too hard. This is a real shame, because the funds are valuable and many of these stores are a vital community resource. Services include:

    • Recycling
    • Provision of quality low-cost goods
    • Hiring and training long- term unemployed people
    • Providing a social network for customers, volunteers and staff.

    If you want to help preserve the charity store, here are some tips:
    • Think of your purchase as a donation to organisations providing essential services.
    • If the item is unwearable – don’t put it in a charity bin, dispose of it.
    • Make sure your donations are secure. The best thing to do is donate your products when a store is open or ring the charity and arrange for them to pick up from your home. Don’t leave them on the charity store doorstep after hours.
    • Tie shoes together and if you have a suit secure the pieces. Charities are full of single shoes and pyjama tops without bottoms.
    • If you are fashion savvy, donate your time to a charity store. They are always looking for good sorters, merchandisers and sales people with an eye for style.
    • When donating, make sure the collectors are actually a charity. There has been a recent rise in commercial enterprises using misleading marketing materials designed to trick people into thinking they are donating to a charity. Make sure you read the fine print.

    Be prepared to pay market rates for vintage. Isn’t it better that the charity gets the money rather than some trader.

    When you are in the stores take the time to thank the volunteers who are making it all possible.

  • Amy

    Second hand shops that are supposed to be charities are ridiculously over priced. How a charity can justify charging near retail price for seconhand clothing is mind boggling.
    I can understand that there may be a trend for thrift store shopping- people trying to find a vintage bargain- but i don’t think that trend should dictate how a charity operates because the main customer base is still people who are searching for a bargain because they are on a low income and they need to clothe themselves and their families.
    Charities used to actually give clothing to those in need of it- but that is a definite no-no now.
    I also agree with the notion that price can be dictated largely by the people that work at the store at the time. Only a few weeks ago i was in a quaint secondhand store- which actually still has absolutely charitable prices on their products- while i was there i came across a three piece cane setting and i asked the lady who manages the shop how much she wanted for it- and she sorta smiled and looked at me and said “hmm… a hundred dollars?” and i agreed that it was a fair price. A much younger woman who works there was standing beside us- she scoffed and said “thats far too cheap- you should charge atleast twice that much”- and then asked me- “oh is it for you?” and turned her head up and walked off after i replied that it was. (Obviously if it had been up to her she would have charged me atleast double)
    I believe that this particular secondhand store prices are kept so low due to the nature of the old ladies that operate it. They are aware that they are helping people by offering them affordable clothing and furniture etc- and they do not muck around seperating and selecting certain items for higher prices etc- they sell all their products with good intent and actually do operate a good business and remain charitable.
    Besides whats wrong with a battler finding a bargain? It’s as if vinnies and salvos begrudge the battlers getting a bargain. If an independent charity can afford rent and all costs associated with running their shop and still offer a bag of ANY clothing in the shop for $5- be it vintage/ real fur/ brand name denims etc then what is vinnies and salvos excuse? They are a huge organisation and have alot more resources- they could sell all their products at a dollar and turn massive profits- cos they get all their stock free- after all it is all donations.
    Now when i donate items i do not donate at vinnies or salvos because i know that people that need those cheap items are not going to be able to get them- instead i donate to the one good charity shop i have found because i know that the people who need it and can benefit from it will actually get the good will.

  • Perhaps higher prices for the more desirable items (designer & vintage gear) is to discourage vintage store owners to buy it & resell? To be fair, with the exception of Savers, these stores are directly benefitting charities and if people are prepared to pay $300 for a fur coat in a vintage store why shouldn’t they pay a similar price at the Salvo’s?

    It does, of course, take the fun out of bargain hunting, but I can appreciate their thought process.

    I do take major offense at crappy ValleyGirl tank tops lining the racks at $8+. Without sounding like too much of a fashion snob, I’m fairly sure the only people who even consider these are the people who are really in need of clothing and can’t afford to shop elsewhere, so it stands to reason that if the Salvo’s etc are going to charge a ‘reasonable’ price for vintage they should be providing ‘reasonable’ prices for standard second hand clothing.

  • milly

    they are definitely getting pricier. I took a break from opping after a got a well payed job, but after i lost my job i went back to opping and i found thata dress that would of been $4 3 years ago is now $10 and some of the stuff they sell i definitely not worthy of the price. Now a days you’d be better off going to the dfo.

  • My understanding is that if you’re a Salvos client you are offered material support before the stock even hits the shops.

    Also, I think the variations in price add to the fun of the fossicking. There’s this one shop near me where designer gears sells for $3-$4, but the old dears running the store are so fond of sparkly Target jumpers they charge $6-$8 for them.

    Suits me!

  • Bec Kate

    I find it varies from place to place but I can’t pick a trend between the expensive and inexpensive places (like city v country, ‘trendy’ suburb v regular suburb)?!
    This weekend I went to 2 Op Shops in the Preston area, at the first I bought:
    – Silk Shirt $6
    – Lace Top $6
    – Wool Scarf $2
    – High waisted black trousers $7
    At the second I bought
    – Silk Shirt $8
    – Large Leather Clutch $8
    Total $37

    I’m very happy with my haul (i’ve been on an op shop lucky streak lately, touch wood!), but I know what it’s like to walk away feeling ripped off.
    The way I see it, if it’s a natural material (silk, leather, fur) and in good condition, then I’m making a huge saving anyway, regardless of a little inflation, the prices are no where near retail prices. Who cares if someone else wore it first?!

  • Lilo

    The internet is probably a large contributor to increased prices in op shops. Now the value of things can be looked up before they’re priced. Also, people who op shop for the fun of it (not because they can’t afford clothes at retail prices) are definitely contributing to sky rocketing prices. Having said all that, I’m an avid op-shopper and I’ve yet to see prices go anywhere near retail prices? Maybe I’m shopping in the right places! Prices are most certainly going up, but you can still find awesome pieces at cheap prices, and crappy valley girl type pieces at ridiculous prices! It’s just a matter of hunting!

  • Agree with yoyo’s comments – Salvo’s have gone online now and are charging huge prices for “designer” or “vintage” garments. Their prices in general I find are the more expensive. Vinnies is often better variety and more realistic prices. A lot of churches have little op shops out the back hall and they are a treasure trove – I love discovering little hideouts like that and supporting the local parish. I found one just the other day in Clifton Hill (Melb). I will continue to shop at op shops and if I love a piece I will usually buy it, regardless of price.

  • Bianca

    I now live on the Gold Coast, but grew up in Hampton. It wasn’t as ‘trendy’ back then as it is these days. There is a massive Lifeline op shop in a neighbouring suburb here that regularly has bargain sales. Things like ‘all ladies wear, fifty % off. Or $2 for all women’s tops…my Mum loves getting bargain furniture and doing it up from there too. Shame when op shops are charging almost retail prices. Ridiculous.

  • My favourite op shops to visit are always country ones. They have nicer stuff and it’s very rarely at unreasonable prices. There is a place just around the corner from me that’s lovely, though. I once bought a dress and a top from there and the top had no price, so the lady looked at it and said “seven dollars”, which I thought was very reasonable for a nice blue top from Miss Shop. But no – she meant seven dollars for the top and the dress. Now that is one awesome op shop.

  • yoyos

    I was taught since I was a kid that as soon as something leaves the store it immediately halves in value so to sell it on again it must at le ast half the original price, at least. Also, i dont know why but Vinnies is consistently better than salvos, for price and value. thats my two cents.

  • Frances

    Just thought I would give my 2 cents’ worth – many valid points raised here!

    I disagree somewhat with some people’s arguments that all country op-shops are places to find good bargains. I’m a country girl who has been living in Melbourne for some time now, but I try to check out the op-shops at home whenever I can. Not all of them are cheap – the Salvos and Vinnies store prices are almost on par with those in the city. Yes, smaller op-shops do charge much less, but I seem to be finding that they either have closed (which is terribly sad) or have strange opening hours, which frustratingly, I have missed!

    I have been op-shopping for a while and have just about given it away, for a few reasons – the prices are going up and the quality is going down. This is simply because so many more people are op-shopping these days, and I don’t mean that badly, but often this means the ‘good’ things are snapped up far quicker than before.

    Another issue could be (although my knowledge on this is rather limited) that, especially in urban areas, the price of rent is exorbitant. This is reflected in prices, so shops have no other choice but to charge more. Rents are far less in regional areas, enabling shops to charge less. Connected to this issue is whether or not an organisation relies on volunteer labour, or paid staff. Savers pays its employees, which is perhaps part of the reason the customer pays more. Likewise too the Salvos, which relies on both volunteers and paid employees.

    I think it’s sad that many op-shops have upped their prices, and it does make it harder for people who don’t have as much disposable income to buy clothes, however I think realistically, prices are just going to keep rising, much to many people’s disappointment. Perhaps the halcyon days of a 50 bargain are long gone.

  • Yes op shops are really increasing their prices! It is also becoming increasingly difficult to find goodies nowadays! And it’s taking the fun out!

  • Ruth

    I do agree that op-shops are getting ridiculousy expensive. All though I am lucky enough to have enough money to afford new clothes I do still love to go op-shopping in hopes of finding a vintage piece, or a brand item from an overseas store. I don’t understand why they think they can charge so much considering they are supposed to be there for lower income people who can’t often afford brand new clothes. I live in a small town with a university so my op-shops often try to exploit this by charging $20-$30 for a silly dress from the 80s. I have noticed that in my op-shops it comes down to who is marking/selling the items. I have noticed that some workers will give the item to you for a few dollars less even if it has the tag while others won’t let you have it even if you are 10 cents short!!!

  • I started op shopping as a kid because it was all my family could afford, but we were still able to dress reasonably well. Over the years I’ve watched op shopping get popular and the prices go up. These days I try to shop second hand as much as possible for environmental reasons as well, but I often end up at Kmart or Best and Less instead because I simply can’t afford decent clothes from my local op shops anymore.

    I think the real eye opener for me was being in an op shop with a work colleague and spotting stock from the company we worked for with tags still on, but the original price stickers had been peeled off and they were selling them for more than the original prices.

  • Just to be clear… the idea of charity shops isn’t that people who need to buy cheaper things shop there – it’s that they use it as a way to convert donations into cash that is then donated to those in need.

    Vintage stores on the other hand are there to make a profit… so I suppose they can set whatever prices they feel reflect the supply/demand situation for the product.

  • As above poster says, country op-shops are often the way to go. There are plenty in regional/rural QLD that I frequent, and they’re usually good for a few funky jumpers and stuff. It’s been a long time since I’ve found any really cool vintage stuff though. Everyone flogs their old stuff on ebay now, so the supplies are dwindling. And even in the most old fogey-ish country op-shops, there are still racks of crappy Valley Girl clothing for retail prices.

    I don’t actually mind some of the London charity shops – they’re overpriced in the posh areas, but they also have some really nice stuff, and in the end the money IS going back to the charity (I think?).

    It’s also worth considering that cheap clothing stores like Lowes etc. provide poor families with the option to buy new (as opposed to secondhand) clothing, so perhaps the impact of rising op-shop prices is smaller than it seems.

  • Tine – I go to the Red Cross in Malvern, well I don’t go, I’ve been. It’s far too expensive. Basic second hand items like skirts and knits are sometimes around $20-30.

    I find opshopping is too difficult now, I only do it in the country.

    Ebay and real vintage stores give me better value for money.

  • Another thought. Costs for op-shops have also increased which I think is also affecting prices. For example, the amount of ‘dumping’ that occurs at the donation bins and outside stores has increased substantially over the years and charities like the Salvos are funneling hundreds of thousands of what should be charity dollars to waste management. Some inner city op -are having a particularly hard time with this. They have to recoup somewhere.

    There are still some great op-shops around. I do find country op-shops (my grand MIL runs one up in QLD) are an untapped source of amazing items for traditional op-shop prices.

  • MnM

    I think it’s a very slippery slope to criticise op shops prices ( not that you are at all Lady M, you are just pointing out the facts!) A huge reason for the price hike can be that many op shops have traditionally sold incredible vintage pieces for next to nothing meaning vintage store owners can buy those very clothes for next to nothing and then mark the prices up in their own stores. Many Op Shops have cottoned onto this and are charging accordingly which I think they have every right to do. After all, if I donated vintage Versace to my local op shop I am doing it so they can make money on it that will go back into the charity. I am not donating it so someone can get a bargain, if i was going to do that I’d put it on ebay. And though i do miss the days of buying a bag of treasures for 20 bucks, I have to admit I would rather give my hard earned cash to a charity like the Salvos than any other retail store.

  • Lisa

    I totally agree about op-shops being very overpriced. I think it’s due to the fact that it’s become ‘trendy’ to shop for vintage clothes, hence the higher prices? I really don’t know! I’ve seen some gorgeous dresses which I would have loved to purchase, but I really don’t see the point in paying $40+ dollars for a 2nd hand dress, unless it’s totally fab / luxurious / perfect / EXACTLY what i want etc. I think it’s become more about being a fashion trend than a shop for people-in-need who can’t afford to shop elsewhere.

  • Where I live, consignment stores are pretty expensive while thrift stores are still relatively cheap. Of course, consignment stores are typically well organized while thrift stores are more of a treasure hunt. So I guess it just depends on if you’re in the mood to pay for convenience.

  • I think Danimezza is definately on the money. The younger the assistants, the more expensive the stores are. Things are pretty much the same here in Sydney. Any of the trendy ‘younger’ suburbs or expensive areas have pricier stock than out in the suburbs. My local Salvos is still bargain central.

  • Op shop’s have significantly increased in price recently. I found a Lover skirt in an Op shop the other day and I was so excited! On my student budget I can’t afford Lover pieces but it doesn’t stop me drooling over them on the net!
    When I checked the price tag I almost passed out! They were asking $150 for the skirt. Yes it is a lovely skirt but isn’t the whole idea of op shops to both create revenue for charities AND provide affordable alternative clothing options?
    As a thrift store frequenter I’m finding myself buying less and less.
    I guess we’ll just have to wait and see where this price rise goes (and stick to that secret cheap op shop all thrift store hunters have tucked away… shh!)


  • I went into an opshop in the city in Perth quickly thinking I would scour for some big heavy jackets for my trip to Europe… I couldn’t find a half decent one for less than $30.00. Needless to say I just went and bought a brand new one for the same price off ASOS.

  • I completely agree with your rant!! So many times I go to the ‘designer rack’ only for it to be full of Valleygirl priced at $15…ie not much less than RRP!!

    The whole fun of opshopping is that it is supposed to be a huge pile of clothing priced all similar and it is up to the shopper to snoop out that awesome bargain. But if you snoop out the bargain from the pile of Supre, and look at the pricetag, nowadays it is no bargain!!

    One op shop up the road from me even has a new brand they sell for $30+ and the stuff is…mediocre.

    I understand they are a business, but they’re turning people away because of the prices! If they put the prices back down, more people would go in, more turnover and therefore better opshopping for all!!’

    Excuse the rant!! xx

  • I find that the younger the volunteers, the higher the prices. They’re the ones that know the labels, watch the trends and soak up the media.

    Funniest example I’ve seen was the price of a crotchet blanket, $10 in a Camp Quality op shop run by 4 little old ladies. Directly across the road at Salvos a blanket exactly the same they marked it at $45. The staff were aged 20-50.

    Looking forward to reading about your findings.

  • Lady Melbourne

    I certainly didn’t think I was alone out there in my experience with this so it’s good to get your perspective. Megan I certainly thought that as I was writing this: are people like me responsible for the price inflation because we can afford to just pay that extra? I’m not quite convinced that’s entirely it….well, yet!

    Tine your example has happened to me on a few occasions too! You can pick up old and worn YSL shirts on Etsy these days for less including postage.

    Lou- you can expect a trench and a fedora wearing expedition and yes, they will have been found in op-shops!

    As an aside, I’ve been shopping at op-shops for a long time now, I started when I was about 13 so thats, er, (well long enough!) to have seen a shift in this space. I suppose that’s why I’m curious about it.

  • I used to op-shop all the time in Melbourne but since moving to London I either find junk, or it is really overpriced. I think some op-shop staff get a little ahead of themselves and assume that people will pay store prices, when the reality is the not the case!

    $350 for a fur coat is absolutely obsurd. They still need to realise that technically they’re still competing against the likes of ebay and Etsy for used/vintage items even if they are doing it for charity.

  • Miss Bias

    Hi Lady Melbourne

    Agree with your questioning about the prices at op shops.

    I normally visit several local op shops at least once during a weekend but found that certain op shops (The Australian Red Cross Camberwell and Glenferrie, in particular) that once stocked reasonably priced second hand items, now infuse their stores with designer new stock that is given to them by retailers, mark these items at standard high street retail prices and in turn mark up the non designer items with higher prices so that there is an even keel amongst prices within the store.

    Stores have now started to introduce sale racks, which hold items that are at prices that you would normally expect to see in an op shop and what you’d expect the rest of the stock in store, not on the sale racks, to be priced at.

    I’ve had to start looking at alternative op shops for more reasonably priced items. I think I’ll take a look at the Salvos on Errol St, in which you have mentioned several times on the blog as my first alternative store.

    Miss Bias

  • Megan

    I think the fact that people who don’t necessarily need to shop at charity stores are making it “trendy” means that they can change prices to reflect that -like any buisness more demand means they can charge a higher price. I like to op shop every so often and I cant help but think that we have created this situation for ourselves.

  • I was at an Australian Red Cross, Malvern, a few weeks ago. Saw a men’s shirt that looked like it’s seen better days (very old, yellowed with age, my nanna smells much better than it). There was no price tag on it. If it’s not because of the label, it would have probably sold for less than a tenner. When I brought it to the sales assistant to ask for the price, she looked at the label, “Oh, Yves Saint Laurent, $35”.

  • Great ensemble lady! I’m not sure of the reason for the price variations but your suspected motivations sound reasonable. Look forward to you getting to the bottom of this Detective Melbourne. (anticipate purchase of reasonably priced vintage trench and fedora). xx