Whilst compiling my op shop map Hannah and I noticed a trend, almost every Vinnies added is left with sub-par experiences. I’m not sure how it is in other parts of the country but there is a trend in some Perth chain op shops towards a modern retail focus that is changing how we feel when we step inside.
Every time I plan a trip of op shopping and I am visiting a cluster (lots of op shops close to each other, it’s totally what they are called now) if I see there is a Vinnies I get a little disheartened before I even step through the door. Most Vinnies stores are spacious, to the extent that they are empty. They feel cold and uninviting and you can tell (with a trained op-shopping eye) if they have anything worthy in a 30 second sweep of the shop. The problem with the über modernisation of these shops is they have lost what appeals to us in the first place, charm. The big spaces bear no opportunities for a good rummage, the thrill of the chase is scarcely there. They just don’t feel like the way an op shop is meant to feel!
Now I’m not saying every Vinnies is like this, in fact one of my favourite suburban op shops is the Vinnies in Claremont, and the reason why is because they have a small little store, packed full of stock and you just feel welcomed there. The racks are full of clothes, shelves lined with bric-a-brac, I walk in an instantly switch into rummage mode. In other Vinnies, however, I walk in and feel tired and can’t be bothered looking when I know that there is nothing in there for me. It makes me sad that I feel this way because one of the best parts of op shopping is that you get great things and can help out charity at the same time. I want to support their charity work but when faced with a empty, cold store I just want to go home and lie down.
For vintage hunters an op shop with charm makes the discoveries more rewarding and adds fuel to the fire to search for more. There may have been many great things I have missed by not looking in Vinnies wholeheartedly but their newness doesn’t inspire me to look, and the story wouldn’t be the same! I feel for the lovely ladies who devote their time to the modernised Vinnies as they have probably seen the changes happen before their eyes, seen their cosy little shops turned into eftpos-wielding matching-coathangered super-stores. By all means I encourage them to keep with the times and get eftpos but leave the home-away-from-home feel – it’s what we cherish so much.