We all love getting compliments on our taste, especially when the item being admired cost just a few dollars at an op shop. But with op shopping now well and truly part of the savvy shopper's mindset, truly great secondhand scores are fewer and further between. They still exist if you're willing to go the extra mile (or 10) though…
We've found a bunch of Melbourne's best op shops south-east-side that are handily clustered and worth travelling for (if these aren't enough for you, check out this list we prepared earlier!).
Perhaps best known for its huge market and range of foodie delights, Dandenong is also home to three super-sized op shops, all within a few minutes of each other. If you're driving (unfortunately public transport isn't so good out that way), leave your car in the Vinnies/Uniting Care car park but start up your op shopping engine, because you'll definitely need it! ??
The Uniting Care op shop often has clothing specials, but it's worth venturing beyond the garment racks to the rear of the store where you might find a furniture bargain or two. Once you've finished there, venture in to Vinnies which is a haven for home wares (crockery, vases and so on), before walking a few steps down the road to the Salvos – this particular branch often seems to benefit from donations of brand new clothing from oversupplied retailers. As is to be expected in stores of this size, the book sections in all three op shops are considerable.
Heading up to the hills for the day? Why not stop in at Ferntree Gully on your drive to the Dandenongs? (Easily confused with Dandenong on paper, but believe us, the chances of finding Devonshire tea in Dandenong are slim to none, whereas you can't go more than a few metres in the Dandenong Ranges without seeing signs offering scones, jam and cream). There are four op shops within walking distance of each other here.
If public transport is more your thing, you're in for a treat, as the stores are all clustered around the train station. Closest of all is the Salvos store, with interesting bric a brac and a larger menswear section than many other stores. Cross the tracks and you'll come to Hills Church op shop, where, among other secondhand goods, genuine vintage items can be had for a song (or a Facebook message).
??A little bit further around the corner is Vinnies – admittedly not their largest store, but as any seasoned op shopper knows, store size doesn't count. Retrace your steps, cross Station Street and look out for the arch at the entry to a car park, which is home to a group of little cafes and shops including the Angliss Hospital Op Shop. This is a small but well-stocked old-school shop with prices to match – we're talking shoes for $3, jackets for $4, a set of shell jewellery for $3 – and it also sells new items that you'll never find at your local shopping mall, such as coat hangers with knitted covers, made by the store's volunteers.
Admittedly not much of a destination suburb in itself, Glen Waverley rates a mention here because, if you're a hardcore op shopper, you might like to tackle all the stores in this list, and if you're coming from the inner suburbs you'll quite possibly have to pass through here on the way.
You could pick a much worse place than the area around Glen Waverley train station to get out and stretch your legs – cafes abound, among them excellent and seriously cheap Asian eateries, and there are several Asian groceries too. But you're here for the op shops, so put thoughts of coffee or bowls of noodles on hold and get ready to rummage at the MS Community Shop.
There's a sizeable jewellery rack to complement the range of earrings and brooches inside the counter display case, a decent haberdashery section and sometimes a vintage special occasion dress or two, plus lots of kitchen items and tourist souvenirs. ??A short walk away is the Salvos store, with plenty of toys and stuff for kids, along with slightly special items (brand new designer shoes and handbags, dinner sets still in the box, commemorative mugs) in a glass case towards the back. It's unlikely that you'll walk away empty handed from a visit to these stores, but if you do, hey, there's always ramen.
Did you miss round one of Melbourne's best op shops?
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