Thrifting is my favourite pastime. Personally, I believe it's creativity in action. Sorting through pre-loved pieces, some newly donated and others in pristine condition having hung in someone's wardrobe since the early 90s; it's here where the imagination flourishes.
While some might view the time dedicated to the pursuit as a downside, this is a small price to pay for the times when you strike gold. Truly. Most of the time pieces arrive sans the marked up price tag of those flogging faux vintage online. Then there's the fact that your dollars are going directly to charity and you're feeding into a circular economy. Free endorphins as we see it. So for those who are keen to thrift up a storm, we're bringing you this tried-and-tested guide to the best op shops in Sydney – because gatekeeping is not our style.
1. Vinnies, Paddington
At the RUSSH office "I'm going to take a walk" is code for having a stickybeak at our old faithful, Vinnies Paddington. Rarely do we emerge with empty hands. Its location means it attracts donations from some wealthy Eastern suburbs folk, who discard their unwanted Fendi Baguettes and Margiela heels straight into our open arms – we're definitely not complaining. It's best to strike at this Sydney op shop bright and early before all the vultures (read: me) come a-knocking.
2. Salvos, Minchinbury
Everyone loves to rep their local op shop, but truly, this one (which is conveniently located just around the corner from my childhood home) is the crème de la crème. This is partly due to the fact, that like its sibling in Tempe, this Salvos Store is warehouse-sized. Unlike its sibling in Tempe, it's not constantly raided by Inner West locals, guaranteeing you'll find something to fawn over. Past treasures I've lifted from these racks include: a handful of midi skirts à la Mary Kate and Ashley, the perfect baggy 90s Guess jeans, deadstock Miss Shop baby tees – and that's just scratching the surface. If you're in the mood for homewares like couches, dining tables and general household tchotchkes, Minchinbury Salvos pulls through handsomely – and always with Billy Joel or the Boss blaring out its store speakers. Chefs kiss.
3. Wayside Chapel Shop
For those who find regular op shops chaotic, may I introduce you to the Wayside Chapel Op Shop. Everything is neatly arranged and well-curated. On top of this, every dollar you spend is funnelled straight back into the Wayside Chapel whose mission is to "provide unconditional love, care and support to people experiencing homelessness, addiction, mental health issues and social isolation" at its two locations in Bondi and Potts Point. Find the opening hours and addresses for the Wayside Chapel Op Shops here.
4. Vinnies, North Parramatta
I used to think that you could divide this country into two camps: Vinnies people and Salvos folk. Like most methods of organising people, this one is completely arbitrary and doesn't track, because after I stepped inside this Sydney op shop, I who had long identified as a Salvos fan, had crossed sides. You would too.
5. Salvos, Tempe
A Sydney thrifter's bread and butter. Brandished with the endearing, and somewhat unfortunate, nickname Tempe Tip, this is another big boy so make sure you've gone to the bathroom before you begin trawling these racks. Just like the location in Minchinbury, this Salvos Store has furniture, DVDs, records, and a range of other household items on offer on top of clothes and shoes. At the back there are normally deadstock Dior and Saint Laurent stockings too, if that means anything to you.
6. The Restore
The Restore is bringing a slice of inner city bohemia to Seven Hills. The decor is a mix of vintage and repurposed furniture, with old school luggage platforming lightly used footwear and timber cable drums fashioned into a makeshift tables. The clothes themselves range between the $5-$20 price point, focusing mostly on womens clothing but with men's and children's options too.
7. Vinnies, Rozelle
Yes, another Vinnies store. What can I say? They've got some gems – this one especially. Sitting on Darling Street in Rozelle, this shop is small but mighty. Plus, it's conveniently located near some great cafes, for the times when you need to take a break from nice hats and police chit chat with the staff.