I’ve been a keen op-shopper for so long I can’t even remember when I first started.

I have clear recollections of an original pair of Winkle Picker shoes in all their pointy, polished glory, making their way home with me and into regular rotation until their seams gave out.

There was a 1960’s leather trench coat with pencil pleating I scored for the grand sum of $10 and the multitude of tweed skirts I’d buy to emulate what I imagined was the feeling of a girl going of to boarding school. (I was obsessed with Girl’s Own Annuals at the time.)

When the money I had was only a tiny bit of pocket change, I’d unknowingly begun to develop my own fast money tips.

It has been a life time’s habit, one that did not always make me popular and certainly well before the term “vintage” ever entered our vernacular. It was just how I did things.

Fast forward more than thirty years later and I’m still at it. A habit which I attribute many of my keen shopping skills to, to say nothing of my money saving ways.

I realised recently just how much cash I save every year by choosing to make the op-shop my first port of call for many of my regular buys, things I would rarely, if ever, pay retail for.

Op shops are an absolute gold mine. Even now that many have put their prices up to much higher amounts in certain areas, there are still bargains to be had.

If you want to save cash quickly and regularly, these top 5 buys might just be the baby steps you need to set you on the right path.

[dt_gap height=”20″]
[dt_gap height=”30″]
[dt_vc_list style=”1″ dividers=”true”]

Picture Frames

What to look for:

  • Solid, stable frames with no fractures at the joints
  • Frames with matting still intact
  • No cracks in the glass

How to fancy them up:

  • Spray paint
  • Gold or silver foiling
  • Glitter glue bath

*Hint: Check out this stunning transformation and DIY instructional from DreamGreenDIY. I’m in love![/dt_vc_list][dt_gap height=”10″]

[dt_gap height=”30″]
[dt_vc_list style=”1″ dividers=”true”]

Tupperware and other storage containers

What to look for:

  • Matching lids with no warp and a tight seal
  • Plastic that hasn’t suffered any melting or microwave burn

How to fancy them up:

  • Vinyl stickers or labels as DIY decals

*HINT: search for Meyercord Decals to find original vintage decals![/dt_vc_list][dt_gap height=”10″]

[dt_gap height=”30″]
[dt_vc_list style=”1″ dividers=”true”]

Serving ware

Pyrex, casserole dishes, silverware (plated or otherwise)

What to look for:

  • No pitting in the plating as this will quickly lift or corrode
  • No cracks or major chips
  • Matching lids
  • Matching sets or complimentary colours

How to fancy them up:

  • Silver or metal polish – easy to use and makes a big difference to the overall appearance.
  • Glass or china wear decals

*Hint: Check out this fantastic post by Dans leTownhouse on restoring and cleaning pyrex[/dt_vc_list]

[dt_gap height=”30″]
[dt_vc_list style=”1″ dividers=”true”]

Timber Furniture

What to look for:

  • Sturdy legs – no cracks or loose joins
  • Well running drawers (these can also be fixed with a good sanding and a bit of baby powder if they stick)

How to fancy them up:

  • Spray paint – enamel auto spray paint is a cheap buy and gives a great finish. Just make sure to sand properly in between coats
  • Re-upholster – often very simple of timber furniture with upholstered seats.
  • Add moulding panels

*Hint: This impressive timber stool makeover from The Red Thread blog has total DIY instructions.[/dt_vc_list][dt_gap height=”10″]

[dt_gap height=”30″]
[dt_vc_list style=”1″ dividers=”true”]

Cushions & Throw Pillows

What to look for:

  • Size – does it fit the purpose you have in mind
  • Overall condition – cleanliness
  • Don’t worry about the cover or pattern, you can make you own later

How to fancy them up:

  • Make your own cushion covers
  • Add fancy trim, like fringing or braiding to the existing cushion cover
  • Add buttoning for a more expensive look

*Hint: This Spotlight tutorial has the instructions on how to make DIY cameo or silhouette cushions[/dt_vc_list][dt_gap height=”10″]

[dt_gap height=”30″]

These are some of our most shopped for decorator items and sometimes the dollars add up very quickly.

If like me, you prefer to save your money and invest it elsewhere (like paying off bills or supporting local artisans and buying handmade shoes), these tips will set you on the right path.

It’s a healthy habit to get into both for your wallet, the environment and for the creative part of your brain that gets a chance to flex its muscle.


  1. We get all our frames from the op shop. Mike turns them into ‘ bamboo ‘ something he taught himself. I have found some wonderful vintage Pyrex and Tupperware as well. These are great tips.

  2. Great tips. I love an op-shop find but I agree that some have inflated their prices and jumped on the “vintage” bandwagon. Not that it is such a bad thing, I tell myself that the funds the op-shops raise are used in worthy endeavors so it doesn’t hurt people like myself who can afford to pay a little more.

    Luckily haberdashery items are still a pittance so I get all my zips/binding/laces/all sorts of sewing bits & bobs from the op-shop. My daughter has grown into a clever op-shopper finding most of her wardrobe there and says that when she moves out of home she intends to furnish/equip her home from the op-shop.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here